A Valentines Day Shooting in the Other Washington

By Daniel Oliver

The American Conservative

February 20th 2014

Last Friday afternoon, Makayla Darden, an eight-year-old girl, was hit by a stray bullet in Southeast Washington. Unlike Trayvon Martin, she was not instantly adopted by President Obama.

Two men, Karie Brown, 19, and Nathaniel Patten, 21, also of Southeast Washington, have been arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill while armed.

Last Friday was St. Valentine’s Day.

There were 91 murders in the District of Columbia last year (not counting the 12 people gunned down at the Navy Yard). The figure is up from 2012 (when Washington ranked eighth in murders per capita among American cities), but down from previous years, which may dampen the public’s interest in crime news from Washington’s more crime-ridden neighborhoods. Crime, whether it’s up or down, takes place primarily “somewhere else,” in the . . . lower-class neighborhoods of Washington: not the part where President Obama sends his children to school.

Government in Washington, D.C., known as “self-government,” would be a late-night television joke to someone with no feelings for what can accurately be described as the underclass. The government’s corruption and incompetence are as obvious and permanent as the two large warts on your grandmother’s nose—and it’s just not terribly polite to talk about them either.

But the dysfunction is real. And the Washington Post (give it at least one star) even has a feature: “D.C. corruption scandals: A primer.” Click on any button and learn how the city fathers steal from the people.

But of course that’s not street crime. It’s only thievery, and does thievery, even high-level thievery, really affect ordinary people? Can’t we spin the facts, the way former mayor Marion Barry did years ago, when he said Washington would have one of the lowest crime rates in the country—if it weren’t for the murders.

Let thieves be thieves: we adults care—with Hillary—about the children.

So how are the children doing? According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2011 Washington, D.C., had the worst high-school graduation rate in the country.

Fortunately for President Obama’s children, their school’s graduation rate is 100 percent. He can afford the tuition of $35,288 (which includes a hot lunch). He can also afford to be relentlessly ideologically opposed to school choice. As is, you will not be surprised to learn, the National Education Association (the teachers’ union), for which school choice is a cross fashioned from garlic.

As the figures show, violent crime is trending down in the District. But probably not illegitimacy, now so rampant as to be normal—70 percent among blacks, almost three times the level of the 1960s. Today, it’s not illegitimacy that’s déclassé. It’s the word “illegitimacy” itself. “Out-of-wedlock” is the quaint mot du jour. Liberal Progressives (President Obama’s forebears), who in the 1960s promoted a reinterpretation of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children law, may not have caused the increase in illegitimacy, but they made having illegitimate children financially viable, even profitable.

A search of the news accounts of Makayla Darden’s shooting turns up no mention of a father. Only a mother, a grandmother, and an aunt. The statistics tell us that even if her father and mother are together, it’s not likely that her friends live in two-parent homes.

Fortunately for President Obama’s children, their parents are married.

A few years ago, a middle-class white person asked a middle-class black one in the adjacent bus seat whether he had any thoughts on why the black community they had just visited was so dysfunctional. The black person looked back in astonishment: “My mother is a lawyer. My father is a doctor. I have absolutely nothing in common with these people.”

One has the sense that President Obama might have been the person occupying that seat.

Meanwhile, Makayla Darden fights for her life in a Southeast Washington hospital, in critical but stable condition. And if she recovers, she will return to a community President Obama seems to have absolutely nothing in common with.

By the way, how did you spend St. Valentine’s Day?