El Chapo totally gets us: America's pity party

El Chapo totally gets the American psyche. The world’s most vicious drug lord, presumed to have rivers of blood on his hands, plays the sympathy card in his interview with Sean Penn, and finds a willing accomplice.

He says his was a “very humble family, very poor”; he laments that where he came from there were no job opportunities, so “the only way to have food, to survive, is to grow poppy, marijuana, and…I began to grow it, to cultivate it and to sell it.”

To quote the late Leonard Bernstein – he’s “depraved on account of he’s deprived.” El Chapo wants a pity party, and Penn, who describes Joaquin Guzman as a “simple man from a simple place”, naturally obliges. Wait for it – any minute now some bleeding heart will decry his manacles as the go-to accessories of income inequality.

Penn not only sympathizes with the drug kingpin’s childhood, he falls backwards trying to paint him in a positive light, imbuing him with “charisma” and chivalry.

Upon meeting, Penn talks of Guzman’s warm and “hospitable” smile, his affectionate sons and concludes he “does not strike me as the big bad wolf of lore.”

Even his homicides are sanitized because, after all, “El Chapo is a businessman first, and only resorts to violence when he deems it advantageous to himself or his business interests.” So comforting.

Of course, Penn’s real message is that Americans are responsible for El Chapo’s drug empire; as consumers they are “complicit in every murder, in every corruption of an institution’s ability to protect the quality of life for citizens of Mexico and the United States…” Yes, it’s not El Chapo’s fault; the murders and terror, the addictions and overdoses – someone else is to blame.

It seems like everyone is mad about something. Here’s what cooks my grits: the increasing tendency to make excuses for bad behavior. Worse, changing the rules so that what was unacceptable in the past is ok in the future. Enabling is in; accountability is out.

For instance – too many black kids getting suspended in schools? Change the rules! Over the weekend the New York Post reported that a student at the Adlai Stevenson High School in the Bronx was caught with seven bags of marijuana in October, which in the past would have won him a criminal summons and a suspension. Instead, under new rules determining punishments for students, he was given a “warning card”, that he was supposed to take home to his family. The new regime of Mayor de Blasio also dictates that “inappropriate clothing, profanity and insubordination” no longer send the student packing; even “minor physical alterations” do not necessarily mean a student receives a Superintendent’s suspension, according to the Post.

Sure enough, suspensions are down. But what does this do to morale in the classroom, where almost anything goes? These students aren’t stupid – they understand the new regime. The tragedy is that studies have shown that it is raising standards of behavior and decorum that inspires success, and that improves education outcomes. Turning your back only encourages more bad actors. As the president of Teamsters Local 237, who represents school safety officers, was quoted as saying, “Crime is not disappearing. It’s just that we’re ignoring it.” And in the process hurting the chances of those who go to school to learn, not to deal drugs.

The same sympathy wave extends to how we view debtors. If a student is unable to pay off loans taken out to fund a worthless diploma, sympathizers now think that the debt should be forgiven. Students who borrow from taxpayers have become victims, not beneficiaries.  The White House passed a law in 2010 that allowed student loans to be forgiven after 20 years or after 10 years if the borrower spends a decade in public service. That’s not the solution. The solution is to equip students and families with the information and know-how necessary to analyze the value and earning power of a degree before signing up for a loan. They should compare the costs of public and private schools, four-year and two-year diplomas. All of this information is readily available on the Internet. If this seems an unreasonably challenging task, I would argue we are expecting too little from our education system.

Of course, we are indeed expecting too little from our public schools. If testing shows that students are not achieving even the meager requirements of our school systems…abandon the tests! If only 28 percent of graduating high school students are prepared for college, change the admissions requirements. No one is held accountable.

Not even people who break laws to enter the United States. These people demand to be heard, demand their rights. What rights? They are not citizens here. We can sympathize with their desire to improve their lot, but the Obama White House wants to grant them a pass. Inevitably, as we see being played out today as border guards confront another surge, more leniency only encourages more coming across illegally.

Here’s the problem. America is a generous and compassionate nation. We want to help everyone, and that’s a good thing. But “helping” can slip slide into “enabling.” Each one of these situations infantilizes Americans, and teaches them they are not responsible. They are not responsible for their own behavior or for the choices they make. If our society continues to excuse everyone who gets into trouble, by dumbing down our expectations and rules, we will deserve the increasingly violent and uncivil country we live in.

Here’s one person who is responsible – El Chapo, for allegedly hundreds, possibly thousands of murders by his own hand or ordered by him, and Sean Penn, who would like us to think otherwise.