What in blazes is wrong with men?
Seems like every time you turn around, a man, or a man-child, is fighting, maiming, stalking, raping or killing somebody. On a street outside Fenger High School, thugs beat a student to death. Punks used to wait for darkness to do their killing, but a fatal beating in front of an audience in broad daylight isn't something you see very often, even in Chicago.
Man shot dead in Garfield Park. West Side assassin plugs a man in the
eye. Man accused of beating to death the former fiance of a cast member
of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Man charged with beating to death
five -- five -- members of one family. A Northfield, Minn., man
indicted in the beating death of his 17-month-old stepson. James
Degorski convicted of the thrill killing of seven in a Brown's Chicken
restaurant. That's just a few of the crimes by men that made news in a
24-hour news cycle last week.
It's no coincidence that prisons are overflowing with men. Without men,
our cities, our world, would be a safer place. No, this is not a lame
parody of feminist dogma, which would blame men for every horror. But
it is impossible to continue to ignore the common denominator: more
than poverty, race, access to guns, anomie (or whatever sociologists
call it these days), the thread linking so much violence is simply the
fact that men do it. On the streets, outside schools, in homes and
restaurants; in series or in isolation -- you name it, there's usually
a man with a fist, club, knife or gun.
Experts have filled bookshelves with volumes of studies exploring male
violence and masculinity. They look to biology, such as the male
hormone, testosterone, for explanations. They look to "acculturation"
and various societal influences. President Barack Obama, not to be
outdone, has dispatched Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney
General Eric Holder to Chicago to investigate the death of Derrion
Albert, the bludgeoned Fenger High School honor student.
This is all old ground, and I can't imagine that much new can be said.
Every possible cause has been cited and undoubtedly they all play a
role. But here's a thought: The reason that so many men are violent is
Boys must learn from other men how to control their natural
assertiveness, aggression or whatever you want to call it. Sorry, women
can't do it alone. Boys must see how good men behave, and that such
behavior is a fruitful way to win respect and success. Boys left
without a model to show them the value of male qualities and values --
strength, bravery, practicality, decisiveness, competitiveness,
discipline, loyalty, pride, independence and physicality among them --
have less chance of learning how to use them for their own or others'
benefits. Obviously all these traits aren't exclusively male, but in
total, they help define masculinity.
If anything's clear, not enough boys are getting these lessons. Too
many men are abandoning their sons. Single motherhood, divorce and
absent fathers have become plagues. Marriage is fast becoming an
anachronism. What men are doing to their sons is cruel and
Pending a return to proper fathering, something has to be done.
week, I suggested the creation of all-male public high schools with
all-male faculty. Some thoughtlessly dismissed it out of hand; one
reader called the idea "fascist." Others, no doubt, consider it sexist.
But I'm not giving up. Chicago Public Schools already has established
several all-male charter high schools, and they are successful. Because
father abandonment is so pervasive, every boy -- not just "high-risk"
ones -- should attend, but of course, that's unlikely.
But take a lot of the money that was to be spent on the 2016 Summer
Olympics, pump it into the Chicago school system to create more
all-male schools and hire and retain good male teachers. Disciplined,
strong of character, intelligent men. Men whose very presence will
nourish the souls of boys who are struggling to find their way through
the fog of adolescence. So that they won't get caught in the grip of
gangs and violence, the only source left for achieving what they
tragically believe is their true masculinity.
Gangs and violence are Chicago's biggest problem. The abandonment of
civil society by too many males is a huge reason for poverty,
hopelessness and violence. Chicago 2016, are you listening? It wouldn't
create the kind of profits you were dreaming about, but it would, more
modestly, help save the city.
This column also appeared in the Chicago Tribune, where you also can post your comments.