By Don Frost
WHAT HATH George Floyd wrought?
Ever since May, 2020, when that black man was murdered in Minneapolis, white Americans have been falling all over themselves to demonstrate that they’re not racists. In the meantime, black Americans have been scrambling to grab as much as they can while white guilt is still rampaging.
In a bizarre and misguided gesture to racial harmony, even major news organizations now capitalize “black” as a reference to race. (“White” is not similarly capitalized. That would be “racist.” Go figure.)
Chicago provides another fine example of the Floyd Effect. In 1993 it was proposed in the city council that the name of Lake Shore Drive be changed to DuSable Drive to honor the city’s first non-native settler, Jean Baptiste Point DuSable. He was a black man who set up a trading post near the mouth of the Chicago River around 1780. In 2019 a Chicago alderman, David Moore, resurrected the name-change proposal, but it continued to languish in the council. Then Floyd was murdered and suddenly . . .
The famous stretch of highway is now Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive – DuSable Lake Shore Drive is acceptable shorthand. For decades an even shorter version was LSD. Perhaps now it will be DLSD.
Moore and his supporters had argued that the name change was an important way to teach young black children about the founder of Chicago. One has to wonder how “educational” street names are to children of any color. Roosevelt Road? Cermak Road? Pulaski Road? Van Buren Street?
They also claimed the city hadn’t done enough to honor DuSable. This is what they regarded as insufficient honors: The DuSable Bridge over the Chicago River in the heart of the downtown area; the DuSable Museum of African-American History (where black children can learn a lot more about their heritage than from a street sign); DuSable Harbor in Lake Michigan; DuSable Street; the DuSable Homesite consisting of a statue and a plaque in Pioneer Court on Chicago’s prestigious Michigan Avenue (the humble plaque offers far more educational content than a street sign); and the DuSable Leadership Academy High School, formerly DuSable High School.
In addition to renaming the road, Lori Lightfoot, mayor of that cash-starved city, wants to spend $40 million to develop DuSable Park and she wants to rename the downtown Riverwalk along the Chicago River for DuSable.
But criticize the mayor at your peril. During an interview with the local PBS affiliate she said “about 99%” of criticism directed at her is rooted in the twin facts that she’s black and a woman. Perhaps the remaining 1% of criticism is predicated on the fact that she’s a lesbian. So her critics are sexists, racists, or homophobic. Put another way, according to Lightfoot, her critics are wrong 99% to 100% of the time.
But getting back to the Floyd Effect, given enough time – or perhaps after another senseless murder – maybe the city council will change Chicago to DuSableburg.
IT’S NEARLY impossible to get Republicans and Democrats to agree on anything. Likewise “liberals” and conservatives, and those on the Right and those on the Left. But one thing everyone agrees on is that election reform bills put forth by various states and President Biden’s pompously dubbed For the People Act are controversial.
In college level journalism courses future reporters and editors were taught to stay above the fray regarding controversial subjects. Editorialize about them to be sure, but in reporting developments on them, report just the facts and let the chips fall where they may. It seems today’s journalists snoozed through that part of Journalism Ethics.
I will not attempt here to debate the states’ position on elections vs. Biden’s position. This is an indictment of my fellow journalists who have lost their moral compass. The “liberal” media’s position on these controversial election laws is obvious and it shouldn’t be: They support the For the People Act and not just in legitimate editorials and opinion pieces. They insinuate their support of the act in news reports where opinion has always been strictly forbidden. Until recent years.
(It has been many years since I sat in a college journalism class. Maybe today’s professors are, in fact, teaching their malleable students that they should slyly insert their opinions in news reports.)
Read a newspaper, news magazine, or television/radio news report on the ongoing controversy and you’ll see the states’ position demonized and the For the People Act draped in laudatory terms. Biden, for example, is gallantly trying to “stop voter suppression” while attempting to “protect voter rights.” Tack “rights” to any subject and you endorse it: Civil rights, prisoner rights, criminal rights, victim rights, immigrant rights, gay rights, etc. What fair-minded American would deny anyone a “right”?
Republican election reform bills are described in “unbiased” news reports as attempts to “suppress voter rights,” “voter restrictions,” and attempts to “limit voting access.” None of the states’ consider their election reforms “restrictive” or “limiting.” That’s the “liberal” opinion, and the press is shamelessly pimping for it.
The media even play the race card: The states, they claim, want to push back early voting hours on Sunday “when many black church-goers head to the polls.” Which begs the question they never bother ask or answer: Don’t white church-goers vote on Sundays?
Don Frost blogs at www.commonsense931.wordpress.com