Tuesday, August 21, 2018

"Rather a means to an end"

Protesters close a road at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland
     For a long-established daily newspaper columnist, I can bring a startling naiveté to my job.
     For instance...
     Writing Monday's column casting shade on the idea of protesters blocking the highways to O'Hare International Airport on Labor Day, the idea that the reverend organizing the protest would see the column, care a bit if he did, or immediately respond, never crossed my mind. Not for a second.
     Maybe that's humility, or obliviousness, or something else.
     But he did see it, care and respond.
     I could argue with Rev. Livingston's rebuttal to my column. But I've had my say, and now I will give him his:
Mr. Steinberg here is my rebuttal to your article:
     #OHareSHUTDOWN as an act of civil disobedience is not our end objective but rather a means to an end. Our demands are focused on the equitable distribution of resources and opportunities for all Chicago and the lack of – which has created our ‘Tale of Two Cities’. We cannot talk about reducing the fruit of violence and ignore the tree of corruption that produces it. Mr. Steinberg from my reading of your opinion you are focused on the inconvenience we will cause – “Inconveniencing travelers won’t help the cause of fighting violence; instead it will make it easier for unaffected Chicagoans to look other way.” I too am concerned about the inconvenience our actions will cause travelers but for the greater good – saving human lives – moreso the inconvenience to the airline companies who cannot look the other way unaffected.
     Our action juxtaposes the generational and ignored inconvenience of the poor, challenged and disadvantaged over and against the inconvenience of the airline companies. Our hope is that this action will help to intensify the spotlight on the racism and segregation that still thrives in our ‘wonderful city by the lake’. The Manhattan Institute of Policy Research states that, “Chicago remains the most racially segregated city in the country.” The inconvenience felt by the airlines will be heard by the powers that control our tax dollars, by those who continue to perpetuate the segregation of people and resources in this city – as well as by the many persons of faith and goodwill.
     In your article you reference the upcoming Golden Anniversary of the 1968 Democratic Convention but notably your opinion failed to mention two of the main emotional drivers of the convention’s upheaval: The Rev. Martin Luther King, a man who fostered many societal inconveniences and Senator Robert Kennedy, a man whose life had become inconvenient for the status quo – both who were assassinated just months before the ’68 convention. In the shadow of this Golden Anniversary we have no protest fetish — protests are often not understood by those who don’t feel denied. The deaths of these two men ripped the hope of a future, already bloodied by Vietnam, from the hearts of men and women of every age, color and creed. So, when it comes to joining an act of civil disobedience, we, the great-grandchildren of former slaves and former slave owners — no matter our number — respond to cynicism about our protest against Chicago’s Tale of Two Cities with these words “Why not me?”
                                         —Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, Coalition for a New Chicago

7 comments:

  1. I applaud Rev. Livingston's hearty and eloquent defense of his plan to shut down access to O'Hare Airport in order to protest racial inequities in Chicago. But I'm afraid he missed the point of Neil's reprise of the '68 convention protests, which was that it led to the election of Richard Nixon and 7 more years of war, several thousand more American casualties, and even worse death and destruction across Indochina.

    john

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  2. Agree. As a practical matter, If people miss flights, can't get to work, or otherwise incur financial loss, I would think the Reverend might find himself the target of civil action at law.

    Tom

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  3. The Reverend is going to make a lot of people angry for being inconvenienced. Having recently visited the remarkable museum and memorial in Montgomery Alabama, and having read for the first time M L King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, I understand what the Reverend is fighting for. I wish this sort of bearing of witness didn't have to happen, but it does.

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  4. I appreciate this guy's sincerity but not his logic. "It's inconvenient being black, therefore we're going to make air travel inconvenient for you"? Hard to see how that's going to change anyone's mind.

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  5. If somebody misses a family member's funeral because they get stuck in Chicago, they are going to be pissed, rather than sympathetic. And they just might decide to show their anger at the ballot box in November by voting Republican. Very short-sighted thinking and planning on the part of those trying to shut O'Hare down. I'm left and I'm proud of it...but this one--excuse the bad pun--just doesn't fly.

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  6. God only knows, but enough distress might even make Garry McCarthy look good.

    john

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  7. If I were Rahm or Eddie Johnson, I'd be looking for a detour (or several) that could be set up quickly, allowing the protesters to make their point, while blunting it just a bit by letting O'Hare traffic bypass the obstruction.

    john

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