Last week, a post on the website Gawker declared Chicago “the World’s Deadliest City,” claiming it’s even more dangerous here than in Kabul, Afghanistan. This year, our nickname is “Chiraq.” The claim has been much-repeated on the Internet.
Since I may have contributed to this label by calling Chicago “The Deadliest Global City,” I should clear it up. Chicago is not the deadliest city on the globe. It’s not the deadliest city in the United States, or even the Chicago area. It’s the deadliest city with Alpha world city status.
Just in the U.S., Flint, Mich., Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Baltimore and Gary, Ind., all have higher murder rates than Chicago. And, as even Gawker was forced to point out, the civilian murder rate in Kabul is higher than Chicago’s.
Monday's Washington Post features an article about the city that, in recent years, has actually claimed the title of “world’s deadliest” -- Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, site of a war between rival drug gangs seeking to control the smuggling route into the United States.
Mexico has not made much sense of one of the most sensational killing sprees in recent history, which has left 10,500 dead in the streets of Juarez as two powerful drug and crime mafias went to war. In 2010, the peak, there were at least 3,115 aggravated homicides, with many months posting more than 300 deaths, according to the newspaper El Diario.
But the fever seems to have broken.
In July, there were just 48 homicides — 33 by gun, seven by beatings, six by strangulation and two by knife. Of these, 40 are considered by authorities to be related to the drug trade or criminal rivalries.
Juarez’s population of 1.3 million is half of Chicago’s, so even in this period of peace, it’s more deadly than we are.
Let’s not celebrate that, though. Six people were murdered in Chicago on Saturday, tying it for the city’s deadliest day of the year.
This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.