by Rahiel Tesfamariam
Columnist and blogger for The The Washington Post
Michelle Obama, accompanied by White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is scheduled to attend the funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton on Saturday. Pendleton, an honor-roll student who had performed as a majorette during the presidential inauguration ceremony, was fatally shot in her home town of Chicago on Jan. 29. Reports that the first lady was “heartbroken” to learn of Hadiya’s death, remarks from the White House press secretary and a phone call President Obama placed to Pendleton’s family signify that the White House has taken the matter to heart.
But, truth be told, these efforts fall short.
With 506 homicide victims in 2012, and with 2013 threatening to outpace last year, Chicago is facing a crisis of safety that demands Obama’s immediate attention. America’s current debate on gun-violence prevention is a prime opportunity for the president to prioritize urban casualties in the same way that he has victims of rural mass shootings. Since he has not yet done so, it has left many, including myself, with a host of questions: Why has President Obama been nearly silent on Chicago’s haunting epidemic of gun violence? What value is there in him speaking up at this point? What course of action should he take? And what does it signify if he says or does nothing?
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