The April mayoral election is the only story in Chicago for the next six weeks.
Unless it’s the April mayoral election AND the secret Chicago Police black site at Homan Square.
Did I leave out “supposedly”? Good for you for noticing. “Supposedly at Homan Square.” Because I don’t quite buy it.
(“Of course you don’t,” some of you say, “because you’re The Man.”)
The Man would get paid better. I’m just skeptical. The Homan Square allegations, as outlined in the original article that started the fuss in The Guardian, is pretty little spread pretty thin. One of the NATO 3 protesters told the British newspaper he was handcuffed there for a half a day. One suspect died there. And the mother of a teenager said she had trouble tracking down her son.
Taken together, these three episodes, even if true, don’t exactly add up to Guantanamo Bay. Reading the article, I kept asking myself, “If this is common, where are the victims?” And then my answer came, not from The Guardian, but on The Atlantic’s website: We jackals in the media, filled with hate and solidarity for the cops, ignore the victims, stopping our ears to the cries of the disappeared and the tortured, muffled by the thick walls of the secret prison that the cops — half Gestapo, half SAVAK — are running on the former Sears warehouse.
“Why wasn’t the press covering it?” The Atlantic asked Tracy Siska, executive director of the Chicago Justice Project.
“I think that many crime reporters in Chicago have political views that are right in line with the police,” he replied. “They tend to agree about the tactics needed by the police. They tend to have by one extent or the other the same racist views of the police — a lot of urban police [not all of them by any stretch, but a lot of them] embody racism.”
Really? Of course he thinks that, and probably considers himself generous for allowing that there might be a few cops who don’t itch to clamp a typewriter cover over every black face they see.
It’s the standard lazy, wear-a-Guy-Fawkes-mask-and-go-larking view: There are no decent individuals involved in government, business or the media, no honest professionals making independent decisions, trying to do what they consider right, only a vast nest of co-conspirators, receiving their marching orders paper-clipped to a check.
I could say it’s nonsense, but then I’m one of them, aren’t I? Though the truth — for those who care — is that my boss would be deliriously happy were I to dig up any halfway convincing piece of evidence of police torture, as opposed to exercising my usual off-point interests. Though I doubt that, on my most daring, gotta-find-something day, I could with clear conscience take this lattice of supposition and find the significance that The Guardian does, or tries to.
But enough of that. If it’s true, let the victims speak. If not, well, that won’t stop those inclined to believe; nothing does.
Back to the election.
Rahm Emanuel, in his post-humiliation speech, said something surprising. “For those who voted for someone else, I hope to earn your confidence and your support in the weeks to come.” And I hoped for a pony for the children, but it never happened. Were I him, I would spend less time worrying about the 10 percent of voters who thought Willie Wilson should run the city and concentrate his attention on the 66.3 percent of Chicago’s registered voters who didn’t bother to vote for anybody.
This is the key question: Did they not vote because they figured Rahm would win anyway, and were reluctant to waste their time joining the throng of peasants waving their caps as he paraded past to another inevitable triumph?
Or did they not vote because they figured Rahm would win anyway, and why bother adding their puff of support to the sails of one of the barks of his future trivia question opponents?
I can’t answer that. Politics makes absolutely no sense at all to me. Here the state of Illinois just elected a multimillionaire governor whose arrogance and elitism make Emanuel seem like Woody Guthrie. And then the Chicago mayor is being pilloried because he acts like the city is teetering on a financial cliff, and does things like closing 50 half-empty, underperforming schools without spending a lot of time holding the hands of the parents, staring dolefully into their eyes and telling them that he feels their pain.
Let’s set aside politics, for a second, because it clouds people’s minds. Let’s say you went to a doctor, and he said, “Look, you’re 100 pounds overweight. Your blood pressure is 220/120. You’re going to die. I’m putting you on this diet right now.” Would you say, “Oh sure, Doctor Rahm, easy for you to say. You went to New Trier. I’m shifting over to Dr. Garcia, who promises me I can eat all I want 24 hours a day and I’ll get thin through magic crystals.”
I suppose some would do that. Whether 50.1 percent of Chicago voters would do that, well, we’ll find out April 7, won’t we?