Views in brief

January 18, 2017

The left response to an assault

IN RESPONSE to "The causes of an assault in Chicago": Having as a teenager been on the receiving end of an unprovoked and vicious attack by other teenagers that put me in the hospital and necessitated facial reconstruction surgery, I found it both emotionally painful and infuriating just to see the picture of the mentally disabled teen who was enduring physical and psychological torture at the hands of other teens in Chicago.

I feel certain that millions of other victims of extreme physical and psychological abuse had similar feelings viewing pictures of the torture of the mentally challenged Chicago area teen. Confronting the horror of what happened to this kid compels us to relive, if only fleetingly, our own time of horror.

That the sadists who tortured this mentally disabled kid "just for kicks" filmed their brutal violations of human rights raises a challenge for revolutionary socialists. Anyone on the left in the U.S. today seeing film footage of police torturing or killing a suspect is outraged and infuriated. And justifiably so, it is the expectation that the left will play an active role in organizing protests and other forms of opposition to filmed police brutality.

Image from

The left can be certain that the film footage of the torture of the mentally disabled Chicago teen is generating widespread disgust and rage. The fact that the racist right is attempting to capitalize on the outrage at four young people, all African American, filming themselves as they "got their kicks" by torturing a helpless, mentally disabled white teen should surprise no one. That the right wing is attempting to smear Black Lives Matter by falsely linking it to the torture of the mentally disabled is to be expected.

The real question is how Black Lives Matter and the rest of the left in Chicago will respond now that the spotlight is--granted, unfairly and slanderously so--on them. Keith Rosenthal takes a good step by raising the endemic problem of violence against mentally disabled people under capitalism and comparing it to the problem of endemic racist violence against African Americans.

I think it is important for the left in Chicago to put theory into practice in order to dampen the flames of communalism. This means organizing forums, press conferences and condemning violence against the mentally disabled and racist violence in a timely fashion. The alternative is to let the right wing set the terms of debate concerning the filmed torture of the Chicago teen.
Mike Howells, New Orleans

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

More factors in Chicago's violence

IN RESPONSE to "Rahm's false cures for an epidemic of violence": Although there are some good points in this editorial, there are deficiencies as well.

For one thing, it is true that Chicago has more police per capita than any other major city, and it also has some of the nation's toughest gun laws. Yet other cities such as New York implemented even tougher programs, including "stop-and-frisk" and anti-loitering ordinances, and also bodily removed and relocated thousands of poor people to other places, including jail, when Rudolph Giuliani was mayor.

While neoliberal policies are the base systemic cause for many of Chicago's ills, the loss of good, high-paying, union industrial jobs is an American dilemma that is nothing new and has been taking place for at least the past 40 years. The problem needs to be fixed at the national level and not the local.

Donald Trump has talked about bringing jobs back to America, though I truly doubt he or any president would be capable of bucking huge global corporate and political interests without significant backlash. And unfortunately, there is some personal responsibility to bear as well--like trying to solve problems through rational means and neighborhood activism, and not by shooting people.

Gun violence is a national epidemic that seems to have its worst manifestation in Chicago for some reason. What's going on is not terribly different from what took place nearly 100 years ago when the Capone and Moran gangs were running the show and cutting people down in the streets with tommy guns. Both the police and FBI were largely powerless to do much about it until they repealed Prohibition.

To be sure, Rahm Emanuel does need to get more jobs and training programs into the neighborhoods, and not just into the three or four square miles around the Loop. At the same time, this must become a national priority in order for it to work on the local level.
MBH, Chicago

What the hacked e-mails showed

IN RESPONSE to "Looking for villains everywhere but the mirror": I would add that the leaked or hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mails were never challenged by the Democrats for their authenticity. And that the most damaging was the revelation that the DNC and Clinton campaign waged a campaign of dirty tricks to undermine Sanders' primary campaign.

So if this revelation caused some not to vote for Clinton, that was her and the DNC's fault.
Barry Sheppard, from the Internet

Give Obama some credit

IN RESPONSE to "Obama's cowardly silence on Standing Rock": After chastising President Obama for his passiveness in response to the standoff, I think it would be only appropriate to promptly report on his intervention stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline in its tracks.

Obama told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that he would not be approving the easement required for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue. It would be unfair to continue to post this headline labeling this great man as a coward.
Harold Baker, Eastvale, Calif.