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The New McCarthyism, Deep-Dish Chicago Style

Police officers are accustomed to a certain amount of foolishness in their upper ranks. It is the foolishness that often accompanies politics, and every cop knows that if he aspires to achieve high rank in his department, he must be prepared to ladle it out with the casual alacrity of a man spreading fertilizer on his prized front lawn. The fertilizer motif may seem especially apt given what follows.

The new superintendent of the Chicago Police Department is Garry McCarthy, who, in a 22-year career with the NYPD, rose to the rank of deputy commissioner before moving across the Hudson River in 2006 to head the police department in Newark. One does not attain these positions without a highly refined ability to speak the language of big-city politics, and indeed Chicago magazine tells us that McCarthy, while rising through the ranks in New York, studied at the feet of William Bratton, the unrivaled master at straddling the worlds of law enforcement and politics, who served as the top cop in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.

Bratton, as he hopped from job to job, was something of a political chameleon, coming off as a tough-talking, no-nonsense bantamweight bruiser while serving under Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York, then morphing into a standard-issue liberal under Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He even went so far as to endorse Barrack Obama for president in 2008, thus becoming one of the few cops in America willing both to vote for Obama and publicly admit doing so.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, formerly President Obama’s head fixer, selected McCarthy for the superintendent’s post, revealing a faith in him to toe the Democrat Party line as it is practiced, in its purest form, in the city of Chicago.  And indeed, in an appearance at Saint Sabina Church earlier this month, McCarthy did not disappoint. For pure political pandering, for a display of the most barefaced, shameless groveling, McCarthy may have set the bar so high that not even someone as adept at the craft as William Bratton would dare try to surpass it.

McCarthy took the microphone from Saint Sabina’s pastor, Father Michael Pfleger, and went on a diatribe about guns and the government’s failure to keep them out of the hands of those who use them with such alarming frequency and effect in Chicago and elsewhere.

“You know,” McCarthy said, “I’m going to take a risk here, and I’m going to give you something. And this is definitely the right audience.”

This was the cue that varsity-level pandering was about to take place. And indeed it was the right audience. Recall that Father Michael Pfleger is a proud friend and vigorous defender of Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan, so it’s safe to say the congregation is inured to outrages from the pulpit.

“This is sensitive,” McCarthy said, “because everybody’s afraid of race. Have you noticed that? Everybody’s afraid of race. I’m not afraid of race.”

Yes! Afraid! But not you! Teach us, Mr. McCarthy, so that we too may lose our fear!

“Let’s see if we can make the connection here,” he continued. “Slavery, segregation, black codes, Jim Crow, what do they all have in common? Anybody getting scared?

Scared? Us? Yes, yes, but exquisitely so!

“Government sponsored racism.”

Applause, applause! Yes, yes, yes! We mustn’t blame the young men who pull the triggers on all those guns! They’re victims too! Victims of a government indifferent to — no, responsible for! — our suffering.

“I told you I wasn’t afraid.”

No! And soon, with your help, we won’t be either!

“Now I want you to connect one more dot on that chain of the African American history in this country and tell me if I’m crazy.”

Not crazy! Perfectly reasonable!

“Federal gun laws that facilitate the flow of illegal firearms into our urban centers across this country that are killing our black and brown children.”

More and more applause. Not crazy! Not the least bit!

“The NRA does not like me, and I’m okay with that.”

Yes! We’re okay with it too! NRA bad!

“We’ve got to get the gun debate back to center. And it’s got to come with the recognition of who’s paying the price for the gun manufacturers being rich and living in gated communities.”

Rich! Gated communities!

And then came the heartfelt personal anecdote to drive it home. McCarthy spoke of leaving a Christmas party in Newark on December 23 when there were back-to-back shootings with a total of seven victims, two of whom died. He went to both crime scenes.

“I was walking through shell casings, bullets, spent bullets in the street. They were getting stuck in my shoes and I said, you know what?  Something’s wrong.”

Wrong! Wrong!

“And I went from one scene to the next, and by the time I got home, probably ten-thirty, eleven o’clock that night, I snapped on the TV to relax for a few minutes, and what was on TV? Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

Sarah Palin! Rich! Gated! Hisssssss!

“And she was caribou hunting and talking about the right to bear arms. Why wasn’t she at the crime scene with me?”

Yes! Why not? Hissssss!

Well, where does one start with all of that? First of all, why do liberals, no matter what the topic or setting may be, feel compelled to insert into their remarks some gratuitous slap at Sarah Palin? What on earth would she be doing at a crime scene in Newark two days before Christmas, or any other day for that matter? And why was McCarthy jollying it up at a Christmas party while the city’s gutters were running with blood? Getting technical for a moment, the detectives at those crime scenes would ask why McCarthy was destroying evidence by walking over and kicking around all those shell casings, something any cop knows not to do if he is paying attention and not concentrating on his next promotion.

But perhaps I’m nitpicking. Garry McCarthy knows that if his police department is going to be effective in combating crime in Chicago, his officers are going to come into violent confrontation with the people who are responsible for it, the great majority of whom are young black males. In his appearance at Saint Sabina’s, McCarthy was merely buying himself some cheap grace to be redeemed when one of those confrontations goes awry and makes the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

For more insight on McCarthy, I turned to an old friend, a captain on the NYPD who, for reasons that will soon be obvious, wishes to go unnamed here.  His comments:

It should be noted how counterfeit and disingenuous McCarthy is. This is a man who has spent his entire professional life in an extremely aggressive, no-holds-barred crusade to put as many black men as possible in prison. He has vigorously advocated the wholesale  arrests of black men for the smallest of infractions or violations with not a care as to how such actions could hamstring or effect their futures. He has publicly castigated (and humiliated in some cases) other police executives when they failed to pursue this crusade with the same zeal that he had.

This man is one of the architects of the “Stop, Question and Frisk” policy that the ACLU, the New York attorney general, newspapers, and civil rights activists have condemned as racist. For him to now climb up on stage and tell a black audience that he cares about them and that the problems in their neighborhoods are the fault of “gun laws” and some mystical governmental action is bizarre.

Garry knows what the real problem is but he is shamelessly prostituting himself in an effort to get a high approval rating and establish his liberal bona fides.

Sometimes a little pandering is necessary, but cops expect their bosses to be at least a little bit ashamed when they do it. In his song-and-dance number at Saint Sabina’s, McCarthy was far from ashamed. He should be a perfect fit for Chicago.

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