Mr. President, please send the troops to Chicago

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President Trump, during your presidential campaign you made a promise to send federal troops to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C., and also one festering with feral thugs and gang-bangers who are committing genocide among black Americans right in the great city of Chicago.

I won’t quote you the homicide statistics, past and present, because by the time you read this they will have changed. Suffice it to say: They are horrific.

{mosads}Something is terribly wrong when, in the most moral nation on earth, its third-largest city is ruled by gangs with a crime rate that is 35 percent higher than the national average.


Wannabe-commandos terrorize neighborhoods, challenging not only local authorities but the very authority you exercise as president of this great nation. The potency of your own presidency is ridiculed when thugs and barbaric criminals take it upon themselves to establish lawless fiefdoms, usurping the law and order on which this republic was built and upon which its continued existence depends, as they kill innocent lives.

I implore you to use your powers to suspend the dated Posse Comitatus Act, which unfairly limits your ability to use domestic militarization to respond to crises, and send in the resources necessary to stem the violence overrunning Chicago. Let me explain why this measure is necessary, starting with my story.

I am a black college professor who came to this country as a legal immigrant from Jamaica 32 years ago with $120 in my pocket. I worked for a year to save enough money for one semester of college, and for four years worked up to 45 hours per week while going to school full time. I graduated magna cum laude and then earned a scholarship to pursue a doctorate in philosophy. Not once did I believe that the state or America owed me anything except a chance to earn a living and pay my way as I journeyed through life.

When I came to this country I promised that, in the name of the best within me, I would cultivate the American virtues of individualism and personal excellence and take advantage of the opportunities that lay before me. These virtues would guide my actions and serve as the only legitimate currency to purchase a life that would be worthy of an American. And I would extend the American ethos of benevolence and goodwill to others, and expected it to be reciprocated. The America I have come to know and love as an American citizen is a country predicated on mutual exchange.

I am sure that there are countless other black individuals who want to make that covenant with America, who want to see the best within themselves be reflected and achieved in their noblest aspirational identities. This is because America can bring out the best in all persons if one chooses to cultivate one’s highest self. But I am pained when my young student from the South Side tells me that he has to drop out of college and join a gang because that’s the only way he won’t get harassed or killed. I am angry when I hear of the young woman who cannot cross the street to catch the bus to get to her university because she has to make herself sexually available to gang members before she can “cross turf.”  

We teach, as we should, the values of self-reliance and personal responsibility. But those virtues needs a clean space to thrive and flourish, a place where an innocent 13-year-old Hispanic girl trying to earn some extra money as a babysitter is exempt from having to negotiate with extortionist gang-bangers who extract half her earnings from her under the pretense of protecting her life and her virginity. In Chicago, some neighborhoods are overseen by gangs that ought to be viewed as operators of terror cells, nihilistic institutional organizations that invade the sphere of civilized life. These gangs have declared themselves above the law.  

Our city is under siege. It is bleeding to death by thousands of tiny scratches. In this age of nihilism, the American Dream is being executed day by day by the genocidal warfare against black and brown bodies by other back and brown bodies. When each murdered person dies, the dream dies with it. Since nihilism is the belief in nothing, the erasure of all values and the wanton destruction of all foundations out of which value systems arise, it is inimical to reason and to law and order. One cannot reason with nihilists; one must eradicate the nihilists to protect the victims and inoculate the innocent.

So again, I ask that you use your powers to suspend the dated Posse Comitatus Act, which unfairly limits your ability to use domestic militarization to respond to crises. Posse Comitatus makes no mention of the use of the militia, the National Guard, the Navy or the Marines. You can suspend this law and send in the forces necessary to quiet our streets and restore safety to at-risk neighborhoods.  

Do not let the fire of our national promise go out, a fire forged in the crucibles of a commitment to erecting order against chaos and barbarity which, if left unchecked, will spread and topple our great republic. Do not abandon the visions, hopes and aspirations of the venturesome young individuals held hostage by thugs. The innocent and the young, the forebears of our future, lie in wait of some emancipation from their feral prison-neighborhoods, which are the only homes they have.

Unleash those troops not to instill fear, but as the insignia of urban civility and order. Do it not just to save black and Hispanic lives. Do it because it is the moral thing to do. All lives matter. You are in a position to save them.  

Jason D. Hill is honors professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago. His areas of specialization are ethics, social and political philosophy, cosmopolitanism, philosophical psychology, philosophy of education and race theory. He is the author of several books, including “Becoming a Cosmopolitan.” His forthcoming book, “We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People,” will be released in July by Bombardier Books/Simon and Schuster.

Tags Crime Donald Trump Gang Nihilism Posse Comitatus Act Urban decay

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