Happy New Year?
By Patrick F. Cannon
I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something positive to say about 2021. Before the Omicron variant of Covid hit late in the year, I might have said we had made some progress in our battle against this scourge. Vain hope. In 2022, I guess we’ll have to settle for the suggestion that this variant is less fatal than Delta. And, of course, we can look forward to the Zebra variant, when we shall all turn both black and white, thus conquering racism for all time.
Another vain hope – that the large numbers of people (mostly Republicans) who say they will never get vaccinated will change their minds when they realize that well over 90 percent of Covid deaths are among the unvaccinated. Good God! Even Trump has admitted he’s not only vaccinated, but boosted. Maybe it’s because die-hard Republicans would rather not live during a Democratic administration? At any rate, only 58 percent of GOP voters are vaccinated as against 90 percent of Democrats. The surviving Republicans better all vote in November.
When the infrastructure bill passed with some Republican votes, some deluded souls thought this might be a sign that a new era of bi-partisanship might be at hand. Ha! Ha! The few Republicans that voted for it were branded as traitors, even as those who voted against it did so often at the expense of their constituent’s needs. Strange; as I somehow recall that former President Trump was a big supporter of a quite similar bill. Now, of course, he’s doing his best to see that these disloyal Congressmen – and the ones who voted for his impeachment – are opposed in upcoming primaries.
In Chicago, the ebb and flow of sports was mostly ebb. The Bears continue their embrace of mediocrity. Many of us hope that the McCaskey family will finally sell out, even though the team has provided employment for most of the family over the years. Surely, with the team worth billions, none of them would have to apply for unemployment benefits. And maybe new owners would keep the team in the city, where they belong. (On the other hand, we have Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the White Sox and Bulls, who seems intent on winning, and smart enough to make it happen.) As to the Cubs and Blackhawks, looks like “wait till next year” will be a mantra for some time to come.
Chicago, like most large American cities, is facing another pandemic – a steadily increasing murder rate. Of the 800 or so murders in 2021, approximately 80 percent of the victims were African-Americans, and the majority of those, young men. Just a couple of days ago, someone trotted out one of the standard reasons given for the high murder rate – lack of jobs and education. Yet, jobs are going begging, and essentially free education and job training is available in Chicago through the first two year of college. Will just one more academic study do the job?
My hope for 2022 is that more people will recognize that the great majority of African-Americans are hard-working and productive. Because they want a better life for themselves and their children, they have left and are leaving Chicago in great numbers. Who can blame them? Especially when a leader like former President Obama chooses to build his presidential center in a park instead of a neighborhood like Lawndale or Englewood where vacant land is readily available. (On a personal note, a couple of weeks ago on the local news I watched a bulldozer tear up a football field in Jackson Park that was in the way of the Obama monument; it was where I once intercepted a pass as a lad of nine and ran it back for a touchdown.)
There have always been divisions in this country, except perhaps during World War II. But aren’t they worse than ever? I can’t get over the feeling that disagreement has turned into outright hatred. How else can you explain January 6? There are people who don’t think it was any big deal. I ask them this – what would have happened if the mob had actually caught Vice President Pence? A discussion? If I have any wish for 2022, it’s this – before we hate someone, can we just listen to what they have to say?
Copyright 2020, Patrick F. Cannon