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Hundreds gather outside Trump Tower Chicago for a “Not My President’s Day” rally to protest the Trump administration on February 20, 2017.
Max Herman/Sun-Times file photo

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Donald Trump’s dangerous stupidity — and a city that deserves better

Trump is at war with everything that’s best about Chicago and our country — values like honesty, integrity, decency, compassion and a fair shake.

Because everything Donald Trump does is perfect and the best, he will be offended by the thousands of protesters who will greet him in Chicago on Monday.

Ingrates, all.

He will wonder why Chicagoans fail to appreciate all he has done to bring down the crime rate here, like that time when he said he knew a cop who could solve the problem in two days, which was helpful.

He will wonder why this magnificent city of immigrants does not thank him for doing his best to run immigrants out of town, out of the country and out of our lives, where they don’t belong except when mowing our lawns. And what’s with those churches that give them refuge?

Trashing schools and environment

He will wonder why every Chicago public school has not organized a special assembly in his honor, given how bravely he has trashed the quality of education here. He knows he has tried his best to help by cutting federal funding for after-school and summer learning programs, and it’s not his fault that Congress won’t let him do it.

He will wonder why environmentalists are protesting outside Trump Tower, too, when he has worked so hard to undermine the Chicago regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency and allow the polluting of Lake Michigan. Because what is the lake, really, if not a big liquid landfill? All the best restaurants filter their drinking water.

When did Trump first become such a Chicago booster?

Maybe it was that time, about 10 years ago, when he was being driven through one of Chicago’s tougher neighborhoods and he said, “Only black people could live that way.”

This from a man who got his start in business by trying to keep black people out of his daddy’s rental apartments.

Trashing Chicago for crime

Or maybe it was that day in June 2015 when, as a candidate for president, he said Chicago is “more dangerous than Afghanistan.” And then he said it again and again, so thoughtful of him, for the next three years.

Because this president, mentored from a distance by brutal autocrats, has the crime-prevention thing all figured out.

It’s all about force.

“When you look at what’s going on in Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? What the hell is happening there?” he asked a group of FBI agents in December 2017. “For the second year in a row, a person was shot in Chicago every three hours. You don’t think the people in this room can stop that? They’d stop it. They’d stop it.”

And it’s all about kicking immigrants in the teeth.

Trump knows that immigrants, whether or not here legally, are nothing but a negative. He knows that’s the God’s honest truth even if it’s not.

He knows immigrants are free-loaders. Who cares that they do one in every four jobs in Chicago?

He knows they are a drag on the economy. Who cares that 36% of the entrepreneurs in our city are foreign-born?

He knows, too, that immigrants are to blame for Chicago’s gun violence, requiring no proof, because saying so elicits happy snorts and grunts from his political base.

“If you look at Chicago, they’re fighting it,” he said in June. “People are tired of sanctuary cities and what it does and the crime it brings.”

The dangerously stupid

You might say this is dangerously stupid. You would be right. There is no evidence that immigrants living in Chicago, who are on average more law-abiding than the rest of us, are the primary or particular cause of Chicago’s violent crime problems.

We would argue that the easy availability of illegal guns, about which the Trump administration has done almost nothing, is among the biggest real explanations.

But when has Trump shied away from the dangerously stupid?

Trump is at war with everything that’s best about our city and country — values like honesty, integrity, decency, compassion and a fair shake.

He wants to deport college kids and other law-abiding young adults, thousands of whom live in Chicago, who were brought to our country illegally as small children. Many speak English better than the president.

What have these young people, who are Americans in every way but a piece of paper, done to deserve such cruelty?

But Trump is bent on killing the federal program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that protects them from deportation.

With equal vigor and menace, Trump wants to round up thousands of other hard-working and family-focused immigrant Chicagoans who have contributed to the economy and vibrancy of our city for decades. He would do this by forcing local law enforcement officials to help federal immigration agents do their dirty work, even to the point of violating constitutional rights, under threat of losing federal funds.

Chicago has refused to be bullied, which must infuriate a president who sees only two kinds of people in the world — bullies and the bullied. Instead, the city has fought Trump’s arm-twisting in the courts.

A year ago, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that federal grant money can’t be tied to a city’s willingness to do the bidding of immigration agents. The Trump administration, of course, is fighting the ruling.

A disgrace

Trump has been lousy for Chicago, which is why he’s likely to be confronted by thousands of protesters — we would hope tens of thousands — when he visits on Monday to speak at an international gathering of police chiefs at McCormick Place.

But we shouldn’t be so parochial. Trump is lousy for the whole country.

Chicago’s just the latest town to be disgraced by his presence.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

This editorial is part of a special opinion section that is wrapping print editions of the Oct. 28, 2019, Chicago Sun-Times.
Kevin Tanaka photos, Bryan Barker cover design

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