Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Great moments in symbolism

"The Treachery of Images," Rene Magritte (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

     So much negative going on. Let’s focus on the positive, shall we?
     Brandon Johnson’s arm-twisting last week led to the meaningless — whoops, “nonbinding” — one-sided City Council resolution calling on Israel to unilaterally stop fighting Hamas, aka a “cease-fire.” The statement didn’t feel the need to call for an end to Hamas attacks on Israel. Good news: It’s not the most antisemitic moment in Chicago mayoral history. Not even close.
     That would be in 1988, after Steve Cokely, aide to Mayor Eugene Sawyer, said Jewish doctors were injecting Black babies with AIDS — not as an offhand remark, which would have been bad enough, but in a taped lecture that the Nation of Islam then offered for sale, because that’s what they do.
     Prompting Sawyer to ... well, maybe I should draw this out. It’s really too delicious to rush past. Let’s play, “You be the mayor.” So your adviser, who has been in your employ for years, disgorges this crazy, baseless, hateful, antisemitic garbage. On cassette tapes. Which he sells.
     As mayor, you need to say something. But what? Craft your own mayoral statement in your mind and we’ll measure it against Sawyer’s actual reaction. Cue the “Jeopardy!” music: Dum, dum, dah, da-da, dum dum dah. ... Got it? Good.
     Here’s what Eugene Sawyer actually offered up: “What Steve Cokely does on his own time, as long as it’s not illegal, is his business.” The mayor of all Chicago then allowed that he would go so far as to suggest Cokely “tune down his rhetoric.”
     Sawyer eventually fired Cokely. And did other mayoral stuff. But when the subject of Sawyer comes up — an uncommon occurrence — that moment springs to mind. Something for Johnson to think about.
     In our present mayor’s defense, the war raging between Israel and Hamas — which is still firing rockets into Israel — brings out the absolute worst in most everybody.
     From those supporters of Israel able to shrug off 26,000 Palestinian deaths and horrendous civilian suffering, to supporters of Palestinians who seem unable to acknowledge that the war was provoked by the worst atrocity against Jews since the Holocaust —1,200 civilians killed in a morning — committed on their behalf by their duly-elected legal representatives. (Although, to be fair, having lived in a nation run by Donald Trump for four years, I get the idea that you aren’t your leaders, necessarily. At least I hope not.)
     The City Council resolution isn’t antisemitic the way, oh, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is antisemitic. Rather, its fault is in omission. None of the 13 paragraphs of “WHEREAS”s setting up the resolution suggests Hamas should stop trying to destroy Israel. There is no mention of tunnels or rockets. A person unfamiliar with the situation would have no idea that generalized “violence” hadn’t spontaneously erupted in Gaza, prompting good-hearted folks in Chicago to call for “a permanent ceasefire to end the ongoing violence in Gaza.” As if it were that simple.

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  1. Why would someone even come close to saying something antisemitic, let alone a politician? Those 800 miles of tunnels weren’t built for love. This has been an orchestrated attack, planned for years, with no warning upon unarmed civilians who were just going about their lives.
    I’m sorry, but I have zero sympathy for anyone who commits premeditated murder. Those babies didn’t ask to be shot, the concert goers certainly didn’t expect to be slaughtered and raped. Put the blame where it lies. I’m so sick of the crap there and here. I just hope Israel gets the chance to rid itself of these evil demons. If the Palestinians were attacking for sympathy, they missed the mark by a country mile. I’m sorry for the innocent civilians who are now suffering, but they knew what was going on. All that dirt from all those tunnels had to go somewhere.

  2. Brandon is a joke and obviously, along with much of the rest of the City Council, hasn't done much research on the situation in Israel. He's just spouting whatever the latest popular line is.

  3. No Neil, Johnson is an anti-Semite! He knew exactly what he was doing when he voted for that vile "resolution". Johnson is a product of that insane Chicago Teachers Union, you know, the one that sent a delegation to Venezuela several years ago & came back with a glowing report on how wonderful the country is doing under that insane dictator & former bus driver Maduro.
    I'd like to find those gullible fools & give them a tour of all the shelters that we the overtaxed already taxpayers of Chicago are paying for, which are filled with all those Venezuelans so happy with Maduro & his economic asininity.
    Why there's such a groundswell of anti-Semitism in the black community lately has become a serious question, considering the best allies the civil rights movement had in the white community were Jews.
    But Johnson is obviously following in the footsteps of Jesse Jackson of Hymietown infamy & that unrelentingly disgusting Farrakhan, who continues spewing his hate, even after some mostly Jewish doctors saved his otherwise useless life from the cancer he had!
    But then Farrakhan has always had terrible ideas, from the bizarre motorized rotating star & crescent on top of his so-called mosque at 74th & Stony Island, to his appalling taste in the outside decoration of the yard of his Kenwood home, which I've gone past.
    As for Jesse Jetstream, never forget the quote in Barbara Reynolds's bio of him years ago, which had the line: "The most dangerous place on Earth is between Jackson & a TV camera".
    And then there was the Life Magazine profile of him where he was quoted as saying he once worked in a North Carolina resort in the kitchen & would spit into the food he was preparing for the guests.
    Ah, what a classy dignified guy. Not!
    I guess when some people manage to rise out of the sewer, they just insist on bring that stench with them!

  4. It is with regret that I admit I voted for Brandon Johnson . He is ineffectual and in over his head.

    Living in a country stolen through genocide and prospered through slavery , I should probably shut my yap, but I believe that Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself.

    The Chicago city council choosing to weigh in on the matter in a less than well reasoned way does not surprise me and I appreciate my alder not attending the vote.

    Still is it anti Semitic to support a cease fire? Maybe I should read the resolution

  5. Given that it is useless for Chicago to request that Israel pause the war, it would be even less than useless to ask Hamas to stop whatever they are doing. Nobody with any power is listening. Netanyahu isn't paying any attention to Israelis asking that he try to get more hostages released nor to Biden's requests that he not emulate the U.S. vengeful reaction to 911, why would he care what we Chicagoans think about the matter? I don't think it's antisemitic --- it's just silly.


  6. When Brandon Johnson was running for Mayor, I worried that he lacked the kind of political experience he would need if he was going to be an effective political leader in Chicago. The way he "managed" the "ceasefire vote" suggests that I had reason to worry. For some reason, he chose not to work hard to make sure there would be at least one paragraph, if not two paragraphs, about the terrible behavior of Hamas so that more alders would feel free to vote for the resolution. Instead of working to get a resolution that would pass, he chose, according to one reputable source, to convince a couple of anti-resolution alders to leave the room before the vote. That way he could be sure there would be a tie vote so that he could cast the deciding vote. Why did he choose such a self-defeating approach? I choose not to speculate.

  7. I've heard people say neither side is without fault in this conflict.
    The problem I have when people compare it to the situation in Ukraine,
    where there's a clear aggressor and victim.

  8. The unpleasant truth about that resolution is this: No one over there cares. It will achieve absolutely nothing. It's unlikely that most in the area will even hear about it in the first place. Its proposal simply served to stir up a lot of hatred and dispute here, to no good end.

    What the Middle East really needs is a Designated Fighting Area™, where disputing countries can send their armies to fight each other, and the winner is whichever country has the most number of survivors after, say, six months of fighting. Gaza would seem to be an ideal location these days, as Israel is now just making the rubble bounce, and it's unlikely that anyone can or will be able to actually live there again anytime soon. That would free up the rest of us to live normal lives without screaming at each other over disputes going back hundreds of years.

  9. Brandon Johnson is playing dress up in a role he is completely unprepared and not qualified to hold. From the beginning (unpaid bills) through firing Dr. Arwady to this ridiculous resolution he has shown his ineptitude and a callous disregard for explaining his actions and decisions. He is in the thrall of the teachers union, and any decisions made on school issues will be made in the light of his former job as a lobbyist there. His positive take on Maduro should be held in the same light as Trumps adoration of Putin and Kim Jung Un. Johnson is an embarrassment.

  10. At least the Chicago City Council passed a resolution...Cleveland's refuses to do so, despite weeks of noisy protests by pro-Palestinian groups, and Jews who have allied themselves with them, in calling for a cease-fire. Our councilmen have threatened to ban the public entirely or maybe just shut off all commenting. Or perhaps return to the virtual meetings of the Plague Years. Nice.

    They have also stated that no such call for a cease-fire is forthcoming. Disengagement today...disengagement tomorrow...disengagement forever.

    Not that it matters. It's all posturing and theatrics, on both sides. Adopting a cease-fire resolution, which ain't gonna happen, would mean less than nothing to the combatants.. Not only do they not give a shit about what Cleveland thinks or feels, some of them may not even know this place exists at all. Or Chicago, either, for that matter.

    All of this is, as Shakespeare said, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" it will change no minds in Gaza, or save one life, or shorten the war by even a minute. All this hypocrisy only stirs up the hatreds that Americans now hold for one another.. Which, as the Jewish expression goes, we need like a hole in the head.

  11. The hard Left is trying to turn the narrative into South Africa apartheid. Anyone who supports Israel "will be on the wrong side of history ".

    If they succeed with the BDS movement Israel will become isolated.

    The Sun Times used to be staunchly pro-Israel. It seems Neil is the last print columnist who will defend Israel.


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