Shooting in Chicago: The Times reports on a violent city facing the brink of summer

 

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Image from NYTimes

On Sunday, anyone who subscribes to the New York Times (or fine, reads it online, in which it is a huge multi-media piece) saw a huge, front-page special report on the violence in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, in which more than 50 shootings left six people dead as the long and hot summer juddered into a violent beginning. This has already been an apocalyptic year in Chicago, for reasons we’ll explore as the summer moves on.

The story is a series of excellently-reported rapid-fire vignettes, weaving in and out of the shootings, which are of course concentrated almost entirely on the south and west sides (though three of the fatalities, oddly, are up north, one near O’Hare). This is where I admire the Times piece, as it only briefly mentions that most of Chicago is very peaceful, and many of us are not touched even obliquely by violence. It instead portrays the city as a nightmare of murder, of random gunfire, of targeted killings and counter-killings, as a place of escalating violence where nihilism runs the streets and decent citizens live in expectation of being next. It’s easy for those not affected by it to shrug it off, saying that there are two Chicagos. The Times piece forces us to confront as a problem for the city, not just a problem somewhere in the city. It removes all remove.

To me, one of the most striking parts is the reaction people have to being shot. “Babe, they shot me” or “I’ve been shot!” I know- what else are you going to say? But I imagine for many of us our reaction would be bewildered terror, an inability to comprehend what is going on. One minute we are watching TV in our homes or standing on the porch or driving down Lake Shore, and the next, gutshot and bleeding. I doubt I’d understand what happened when a stray bullet caught me. That everyone in the story is instantly aware is a sure signifier of the huge gulf in our lives, the shame of Chicago, and of a country that has bred this vicious nihilism.

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Trump’s “My African-American”: The Problem Isn’t The Possessive; It’s The Singular

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Pictured somewhere: Trump’s black support. Can you find him???? Image from whereswaldoemotionally.blogspot.com

So, the weekend was dominated, as it should be, by Donald Trump’s not-bizarre insistence that the judge in his fraud case is biased against him because he’s not just Mexican, but really super Mexican. To say this line of thinking should be disqualifying is self-evident, but the real disqualifications are, once again, just how dumb and ill-informed Trump sounds dumb and ill-informed Trump sounds (and is!) when talking about anything other than his business acumen.

These comments caused some fainting in green rooms across the country, as the media tries to reconcile their belief that any bad thing a politician says is a gaffe with the reality that Trump is running a white nationalist campaign based on ignorance and petty grievances. To their credit, they actually seem to be coming around to it. Perhaps the best line of the weekend was offered up by Newt Gingrich, who has always managed to find the perfect combination of obsequiousness when he wants power with self-serving self-righteousness. He called Trump’s comments inexcusable, which allows him to maintain independence, but then said that Trump’s comments were the “biggest mistake of the campaign” so far, as if this was a stumble, and not the point of the whole project. But Gingrich gets to seem like a wise Washington hand, as he angles for the Vice Presidency.

Still, that wasn’t the only racial flap. Trump began the weekend by pointing out a black person in the crowd and saying “my African-American.” The man, who wasn’t a Trump supporter, also wasn’t offended, which is fine. He shouldn’t have been. The outcry was over the use of the possessive, which strikes me as silly. Every politician refers to their supporters like that. The real problem is that, when trying to say you have a racially-inclusive campaign, you probably shouldn’t be able to highlight the single minority in your audience. Having a diverse following isn’t Where’s Waldo.

To me, though, the real highlight was when Trump retweeted a picture of black supporters, which turned out to be fake, just a photo pulled off the internet somewhere.   That’s normal, except, dig this: the account he retweeted.

@Don_Vito_08: Thank You Mr. Trump for Standing up for Our Country! JOIN ME ON THE 🚂http://twitter.com/Don_Vito_08/status/739075864793653248/photo/1pic.twitter.com/zgopGvSEen