“They’re trying to wash us away.” — Randy Newman, Louisiana 1927
The Tribune is on a roll. Weeks after calling for a Mussolini-type dictator to run the school system, editorial board member McQueary now prays for a Katrina-like disaster, suggesting a catastrophe of that magnitude could change Chicago for the better without borrowing money or raising her taxes.
I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops. That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.
Yes, I know McQueary is making a stab at metaphor (or is she?) and probably doesn’t really want water damage in her condo. But her disgusting worse-the-better message of New Orleans envy, without a thought for the thousands of people, mostly African-American families,who died or were driven out of the city when the levees broke, comes through loud and clear.
The Tribune’s racist insensitivity is only an echo of Obama’s Ed Sec. Arne Duncan who anticipated McQueary’s piece back in 2010 when he told interviewer Roland Martin,
I spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and this is a tough thing to say, but let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.
An embarrassed Obama forced Duncan to apologize for his racist remarks and he did. I’m sure McQueary will have to walk it back as well. But we know what both were really thinking. Duncan drooled over Katrina because it led to the mass firing of city teachers and the destruction of their union. That’s McQueary’s dream as well. It also led to disaster-capitalism specialist Paul Vallas and his replacement of public schools and public decision-making with charter schools run by corporate boards.
Throw in a little bit of the late Univ. of Chicago free-market economist Milton Friedman who said of Katrina: “This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system”.
And add Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s call to “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before” and you’ve got the ideology behind disaster capitalism.
This is nothing new for McQueary who has been the Trib’s point person when it comes to launching attacks on the teachers union and especially on CTU Pres. Karen Lewis.
In fact, Chicago has already had it’s version of Katrina and doesn’t need any more disasters to facilitate “reform”. Like New Orleans, Chicago’s was man-made and has lasted for decades. It’s the product of years of systemic racial segregation in schooling and housing, the destruction of the city’s manufacturing base, and concentrated poverty that has left many communities reeling from gun violence.
Surpassing even post-Katrina New Orleans, Chicago has suffered the mass exodus of more than a quarter-million African-Americans in the past decade.
McQueary wants more of the same. Enough!