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Rather than Attack Its Critics, Camden Dems Should Do Something about City’s Image

December 10, 2009

An off-the-cuff joke by comedian Jon Stewart about the City of Camden, which last month was named as the nation’s most dangerous city in 2008 “based on FBI-compiled crime data and population figures” and has been under State control since 2002, has drawn the ire of Camden Democrat officials.

Stewart quipped about a video of Afghanistan on Monday’s The Daily Show, “Actually, it looked a little bit like Camden, New Jersey, quite frankly.”

This prompted outrage from the likes of Councilman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson and Mayor-Elect Dana Redd.

Redd called the comment “offensive,” while Wilson responded, “Does Stewart have the nerve to come and actually say that to Camden residents? We’ll give him a tour of Camden and we’ll show him what people don’t see.”

What’s offensive is that a quick Google search and a peak at the City’s Wikipedia page will point out some of those things that Wilson notes the “people don’t see”:

Three Camden mayors have been jailed for corruption, the most recent being, Milton Milan in 2000. Since 2005 the school system and police department have been operated by the State of New Jersey, the takeover will expire in 2012. In 2009 Camden has the highest crime rate in the United States with 2,333 violent crime’s per 100,000 people while the national average is 455 per 100,000. Camden spends $17,000 per child for education and only 2/3 of the students graduate. Two out of every five residents are below the national poverty line.

Rather than attacking an entertainer for pointing out one of the many shortcomings of the city, albeit with hyperbole, City Democrats should point the fingers at one another and demand they change the perception rather than deny it and attempt to keep it from public scrutiny. Chances are such public scrutiny will only highlight their own failures as elected officials to protect, educate and better the people of Camden.

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