Thursday, July 2, 2020
Damn you, J.B., for trying to save our lives!
When pausing to photograph this distinctive sign in generally pleasant, rustic Channahon Monday. I did not consider the juxtaposition with the nostalgic tableau next to it: the classic Schwinn bicycle, its basket full of flowers, the sweet little girl statue.
And then "J.B. PRITZKER SUCKS." In case you can't read the fine print, it continues, "THE LIFE OUT OF ILLINOIS SMALL BUSINESS."
It was only later, looking at the picture, that the disconnect between folksy and hateful jumped out. Which is rather like what often happens when you meet people downstate—lovely folks, on the surface, but with a few odious beliefs jingling around their pockets like loose ammunition.
The sign doesn't go on to explain exactly how the governor is hoovering vitality from mom and pop establishments. No room and, besides, it's a given. It's assumed you know the problem is his closing down the state, more or less, trying to keep residents from dying of COVID-19.
Can't the guy who posted the sign see what happens when you don't? 52,000 new cases. Tuesday. Isn't trying to tamp down that curve—surging up again—the kind of effort that even residents of this small community, 60 miles southwest of Chicago, can wrap their heads around. It's not like you need a Ph.D. to figure it out.
Then again, I have a job, and my wife has a job. Maybe if we were sitting on our hands, day after day, watching our livelihoods shrivel and die and our life savings dwindle away, we might have a very different take on the matter. I don't want to be one of those guys sitting warm and dry in the boat, raising my hot tea and lemon to my lips, tut-tutting at how unseemly are all those thrashing about in the water, splashing in such an unseemly fashion. And those awful cries! Really. Can't they sink wordlessly? That's what I'd do in their position. Blow a few kisses at the governor as I expire.
Or am I succumbing to that Democratic folk disease, empathy? Wear your fuckin' mask, Jethro.
If I had presence of mind, I'd have pulled over and knock on the door (and no doubt been shot through it by someone in fear for his life; it isn't only the Right who can traffic in stereotypes). But I was already 20 minutes late—construction traffic on the Stevenson—heading down, and after I had been biking for three hours and just wanted to get home and eat dinner.
Then again, I don't need to quiz the sign owner. This week the Sun-Times ran a story on the dozen or so death threats against the governor. The Illinoisans making the threats seem to be mostly the mentally ill, or the incarcerated, and not beleaguered small businessmen whose cupcake shops are languishing due to social distancing. The true nature of people come out in a crisis, for good and ill, and it is to be expected that along with the selfless acts of nurses and social service types there are bitter red staters just itchin' to shoot sumptin'. Not to tell the governor his business, or make my colleague's work any more difficult, but myself, I'd squelch reports of death threats, just so as not to give anybody any ideas.
Think about how much you have to hate somebody to condemn him on a sign in your front yard. I like to think, no matter how extreme a situation I'd find myself in, I wouldn't do that. In fact, I don't have to assume. I know. For three years I've watched a liar, bully, fraud and traitor ripping at the foundations of my beloved country, which is worse than driving your bar into receivership. And yet not once found myself condemning him to passing cars.
Although, now that I think of it, I have put up a sign. A neighbor had them printed up, and I eagerly bought one and placed it at the strip of forest along the edge of our yard. Here it is.