The weird violence fantasies of Chicago journalists. Michael Miner’s dead bodies piling up in the morgue.


The Chicago Reader’s Michael Miner. Chicago Reader photo.

It would not be unusual for young kids to draw violent images in my art class.

Some boys love drawing tanks and armies and soldiers with guns.

I don’t love it. But it’s what they do.

On the other hand, if I had a child who seemed obsessed with violent images, I would bring it up to our social worker. She might come into my room and take a look.

In other words, we would be concerned.

I am concerned about a developing trend among Chicago journalists obsessed with writing about the people of Chicago in the most violent and hateful ways.

If there was a social worker for the Chicago journalism profession, I would suggest a staffing.

My concern began with the Tribune’s Kristen McQueary who called for a Hurricane Katrina to destroy Chicago so that we could end public education, as was done in New Orleans.

“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,” she wrote in her infamous column last week.

This column produced a furious and justifiably angry reaction from the citizens of New Orleans, Chicago and nation-wide.

Now it is Michael Miner’s turn to produce weirdly violent images for his column in the Chicago Reader.

Miner writes regularly on Chicago media, and has for years.

He defends McQueary and criticizes her readers, which I find an odd approach to take for a guy who is paid to be a media critic.

A crisis, as our mayor famously said, is a terrible thing to waste, and it’s terrible because sometimes anything less than a crisis—and not just a fiscal crisis but a palpable flesh-and-blood crisis with fire and flood outside the kitchen window and bodies piling up in the morgue—doesn’t get us off our keisters.

“A palpable flesh-and-blood crisis”?

“Fire and flood outside the kitchen window”?

“Bodies piling up in the morgue”?

What the hell?

Memo to Mrs. Campbell, Social Worker:

I have a student I want to you observe.

He is drawing pictures of piles of dead bodies in a morgue.

– Fred Klonsky

Miner partly justifies his attack on McQueary’s readers by dismissing the reports that things are not going well in New Orleans.

He uses Gary Rivlin as his evidence.

Rivlin is a former Chicagoan who wrote a great book on Mayor Harold Washington.

I’d just had a long conversation with Gary Rivlin, who spent eight months in New Orleans after Katrina and kept an eye on the city for the next nine years and just published Katrina: After the Flood. Rivlin told me that the white New Orleans power structure, though tempted, did not respond to Katrina as a golden opportunity to do some racial cleansing. New Orleans is still New Orleans, said Rivlin, and in some important ways it’s “better than it’s ever been.”

As I am under Rivlin’s spell, the general reaction to McQueary’s piece strikes me as overwrought and willfully off her point.

It would appear that Miner is not as much under the spell of Gary Rivlin as he claims.

Gary Rivlin offered this Tweet in response to the McQueary column:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 7.39.30 AM

By the way, Rivlin has a piece in the NY Times Magazine about the continuing impact of Katrina on Black folks in New Orleans.

Miner might want to take a look.

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