My family and I left the Chicago area this summer. It was time. Like other areas of the country, Chicagoland has changed, not for the better. Many policies are either unfriendly or downright harmful to families. Crime has soared. Since this time last year, overall crime is up 37 percent, according to the Chicago Police Department. Burglaries have increased 28 percent; robberies, 18 percent; and car theft, 64 percent. In a particularly heinous act this past week, a man was robbed, beaten, and stabbed to death in the Loop.

A law set to be implemented in January promises to increase the crime not just in Chicago, but across the state. It looks to further devastate the very communities it claims to benefit. The law, dubbed the SAFE-T Act, ends cash bail statewide for second-degree murder, drug-induced homicide, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, aggravated battery, almost all drug offenses, aggravated DUI, aggravated fleeing, arson, intimidation, and threatening a public official.

At least one community—Orland Park—unanimously passed a resolution September 6 expressing concern over the legislation. “As leaders charged with ensuring public safety in our communities, we cannot ignore the complete disregard for the safety of our residents, due to the details of this act that will be put in place by state legislators, and the impact it will have on our police department’s ability to reduce and deter criminal activities,” said Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau.

Illinois is extreme. But crime is rampant across the country, especially in our biggest cities. Labor Day weekend brought the devastating news of the brutal early-morning attack and murder of a Memphis mom and teacher. Last week, a woman was beheaded in Silicon Valley, in full daylight.

These atrocities are the result of a radicalized fringe waging war on America. They assault our Judeo-Christian roots, our justice system, and our common decency. They corrupt the values and traditions we love and respect, hoping to demoralize Americans.

Chicagoland has been my home, off and on, for the last thirty years. The grit-and-grind of the city are a gift I wanted my kids to appreciate. By God’s grace, they grew familiar with big-city life over the last twelve years. Leaving was bittersweet.

Still, many parents are making big changes, whether it be a different school or a different state. We moved with an eye on safety, education, and more moderate, family-beneficial policies. No place is perfect or entirely safe. Being self-defensive and exercising good judgment are vital practices for everyone, everywhere.

America is a democratic republic. One of her most distinct aspects is liberty. That liberty, along with our freedoms outlined in the Constitution (religion, expression, assembly, etc.), are worth defending—as many of our ancestors have done, often sacrificing their lives.

The late Queen Elizabeth II offered remarks during her 2008 Christmas broadcast that capture the American spirit: “When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”

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