Few things shock me, as a hard-bitten journalist.
But today, I’m in shock.
I just watched a video that didn’t just sicken me, it contaminated every pore of my soul with feelings of pure, unadulterated, raw disgust and hatred.
The short piece of film I endured depicts a gang of four black teenage thugs, two male, two female, abusing and torturing a poor terrified young white man with special needs.
The sheer scale of their depravity appears to know no bounds.
These smirking scumbags tie him up, gag him, kick him, punch him, scalp him by viciously slashing his hair with a knife, and flick burning cigarette ash on the head wounds they inflict in the process.
They laugh, they jeer, then one of them shouts: ‘F**k Donald Trump, n***a, f**k white people!’
Another urges the victim to say, “I love black people.”
And then they force him at knifepoint to say, “F**k Donald Trump.”
This is not a quick, spontaneous assault. The victim is believed to have been held for up to 48 hours. The live Facebook stream itself goes on for more than 30 minutes.
‘Kiss the floor, b**ch!’the attackers howl. Then they shove his face into a toilet bowl.
Their goal is to utterly humiliate him, self-evidently, from their own mouths, because he’s white.
This is payback, again confirmed by their own words, for Donald Trump, a man they presume to be a racist, becoming President.
Yet police in Chicago, where the attack happened, are currently refusing to say if they are treating this as a racially or politically motivated ‘hate crime’.
‘Kids make stupid mistakes,’ said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. ‘Part of whether or we not we seek a hate crime (is to) determine whether or not this is sincere or stupid ranting and raving. I think part of it is just stupidity. At this point, we don’t have anything concrete to point (toward a hate crime).
Are you bloody kidding me?
First, these are absolutely not ‘kids’. They are all 18 years old.
Second, what they did wasn’t ‘just stupidity’, it was pre-meditated torture of a horrendous nature.
Third, what more did they need to do to justify this being a racially and politically motivated hate crime – tar his body with the words, ‘white boy Trump trash’?
Imagine for a moment that a young black man with special needs had been kidnapped, abused and tortured by a gang of smirking white youths?
Imagine watching a video of this black man’s horrific ordeal streamed live on Facebook?
Imagine seeing and hearing the white assailants systematically torment their black victim, physically and mentally?
Imagine watching them kicking him, punching him, scalping him and flicking burning cigarette ash on the wounds they inflicted with their vicious, sustained assault?
Imagine hearing one of them shouting ‘F**k Barack Obama! F**k black people!’ as they did so?
Then imagine the video of all this emerging and hitting TV screens and news websites across America.
All hell would rightly have broken loose.
There would have been instant huge protests, and probably riots.
The #BlackLivesMatter group would have lit up social media demanding ‘justice’.
Black celebrities, led by the likes of Beyoncé and John Legend, would have made statements expressing their fury at the incident and their solidarity with the victim.
Police, under the huge pressure of such concerted public outrage, would have undoubtedly confirmed this as a hate crime.
Yet as I write this, I don’t see any protests, riots, social media campaigns or celebrity statements.
I don’t even see the police having the guts to call this attack what it is.
The reason is sadly all too obvious; they don’t want to inflame tensions any further in a city that has become the very epicenter of violence in modern America.
In 2016, Chicago had 762 murders and 4,331 shooting victims.
Homicides increased by 57% over 2015.
Many parts of the city have become no-go areas as gangs patrol the streets waging a relentless turf war.
Let’s not hide behind any spineless politically correct rhetoric when it comes to apportioning blame: the vast majority of those doing the shooting and being shot are young black African-American men.
I’m not being ‘racist when I say this, it’s just a simple fact.
And let’s be equally clear about what happened in Chicago on Tuesday: a bunch of racist, Trump-hating young black teenagers exacted an appalling hate crime on a defenseless young mentally disabled white man.
They are a shameful disgrace to their families, their city and their country.
Yet their behaviour is symptomatic of Chicago’s malaise and descent into escalating, seemingly uncontrollable violence.
The city’s young black population has, for decades, suffered from poor education and chronic unemployment.
This is not to excuse the violence, but it goes a long way to explaining it.
With little hope of a job or escape route to any kind of safe, prosperous life, young blacks in Chicago get sucked into gangs where the only currency is drugs, crime and violence.
They are lured by the false illusion of protection and status.
Instead they inevitably find jail, bullets and death.
Next Tuesday, President Obama will deliver his farewell address to the American people.
He’s chosen his hometown of Chicago as the venue for his final words.
Obama says he wants to use his speech to ‘say thank you for this amazing journey, to celebrate the ways you’ve changed this country for the better these eight years.’
Spare me the self-congratulatory claptrap, Mr President.
You’ve done absolutely nothing to stem America’s appalling culture of gun violence that claims 32,000 lives a year.
Even more damningly, for the country’s first black president, you’ve done nothing to reduce racial divisions.
In fact, those divisions are getting wider and worse, not better.
Chicago, your hometown, is a terrible, towering monument to your twin failures with guns and race.
What I witnessed today on that shocking video is what happens when a city (whose Mayor, lest we forget, is Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff) loses control of a section of its community and hopeless young people in that section of the community turn depraved.
It represents a hideously ugly stain on Chicago, and its most famous son, President Obama.
And yes, I would say exactly the same if it were the other way round and this was a white gang who’d done this to a defenseless black man in the name of white power and anger at a black president.
Racism’s a two-way street.