Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I just love a man in uniform

Basically, that's the sentiment of Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell. In her column, she heaped praise on the high levels of security around presidential candidate Barack Obama's Hyde Park home in Chicago -- the sort of imperial treatment that has become de rigueur for both donkey and elephant pretenders to the throne.

When I pulled up near Obama's house, though, I immediately noticed a drastic change in the neighborhood.

Concrete barricades now guard both ends of Obama's block, while metal barricades, like the ones used to hold back crowds during parades, are lined up on Hyde Park Boulevard.

Whatever you do, keep moving.

Secret Service, sheriff's deputies, Chicago Police officers and plainclothes officers are scattered throughout the area.

Frankly, I felt like I had just entered the safest zone in America.

For the first time -- in a long time --while on the South Side, I didn't worry about leaving my car parked on the street or about walking back to it several hours later in the dark.

Michell got up-close-and-personal with the forces of law and order too. She describes how "[a]n agent rifled through my purse and searched my backpack."

All that attention, those helmets, that razor wire! It gave Ms. Mitchell a warm and fuzzy feeling. This is just what Chicago needs all over the place.

Aldermen and activists who are struggling to stop the bloodbath on the South Side may have to resort to the same aggressive policing that is being used to protect Obama.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the city this year because of street violence.

It is a crisis.

And a crisis requires drastic intervention, not rhetoric.

There's no telling how many guns would be taken off the street in gang- and drug-plagued neighborhoods if police were to set up roadblocks and search everyone going into those areas.

There's no telling how many innocent people would be harassed, either. Or how many minor transgressors -- pot smokers and jay-walkers, for instance -- might unnecessarily end up in jail cells. Ms. Mitchell is African-American, so you'd think it might occur to her that minorities haven't always received such great treatment from police. Maybe, just maybe, unleashing the cops to roust people at will might exacerbate such existing conflicts and breed a few unnecessary confrontations.

Oh, but never mind, you silly skeptics. Civil liberties are for red-state rubes!

For those of you who argue that what I am proposing violates basic civil rights, forget it.

When you go to an airport or into most schools, you have to walk through a metal detector.

This is Chicago, not Alaska.

Fortunately, even Ms. Mitchell seems to think that her checkpoints-and-body-searches solution to social problems might not win approval. She laments, "residents often act like they care more about their personal freedoms than they care about their neighbor's life."

It's an either/or choice, really? So if we love liberty, we want to see the retired shopkeeper living next door taken down for his Social Security check?

What a bastard I am.

But I'll find solace with Ms. Mitchell's neighbors, who so selfishly cling to their civil liberties.



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