Justin Kaufmann, host of The Download on WGN and the Brothers Klonsky.
It was more than a little strange walking into the Tribune Tower on north Michigan Avenue last night. The gothic lobby is imposing, as it was meant to be. Engraved quotes from the captains of capitalism surround you like bible verse.
My friend and fellow teacher, Mark Stefanik texted me as the show began, “McCormick is spinning in his grave at the sound of your ideas on his radio station,” referring to the Trib’s founder Colonel McCormick.
It was imposing until Justin Kaufmann, host of the nightly The Download (7-11, 720 AM and streaming over the internet) came bounding into the green room to greet my brother Mike and me.
My brother and I had been invited by Kaufmann to be on his show to talk about Martin Luther King and our history of political engagement.
I remember WGN from the days of Wally Phillips and Roy Leonard, when it was rare to find a listener of the station under the age of 60.
Kaufmann is no Wally Phillips. Wally Phillips would never have had me or Mike on his show. Maybe Milt Rosenberg, the old University of Chicago traditionalist who did a nightly show back in the day. But not Wally.
So, thanks to Kaufmann. He is relaxed, engaging and smart. So is his show. I am now a fan. Kaufmann has worked in the radio business for a couple of decades so he makes doing four hours of conversation every night look easy. It’s not easy.
But I’m thinking doing a radio show might be a good retirement gig. Who knows?
One of the topics we touched on was Trump’s Friday inauguration and the protests surrounding it, particularly what promises to be a huge Women’s March on Saturday.
Two things impress me about the march and protest on Saturday:
So many of those who I have talked to who are going (Anne will be in D.C. I will march at the Trump protest in Chicago) have never attended a protest before.
Apparently Trump is a huge motivator.
The second thing is the notion in the media and among politicians that protesting the inauguration is a new thing.
Even President Obama keeps talking about our tradition of peaceful transition of power.
Now, I know President Obama is talking about the election process. But I can’t help thinking there is more than the usual content and concern to this phrase this time.
Congressman John Lewis is not the only one who questions the legitimacy of Trump’s election.
And aside from all that, transitions of power in the U.S. have not always been peaceful.
I believe the election of Lincoln helped provoke civil war.
Chicago in 1968 had the whole world watching as the Democrats chose Hubert Humphrey to replace Lyndon Johnson in the White House. And there was nothing peaceful about that process of transition.
100,000 showed up to protest the second inauguration of the crook, Richard Nixon.
We protested at Reagan’s inaugurations as well.
Many of the demonstrators were upset by the ballot procedures and Supreme Court ruling that led to George W. Bush’s becoming president. Others demonstrated over issues like global trade, civil rights, abortion, capital punishment, rain forests and corporate power.
As President Bush’s limousine passed, many waved signs proclaiming ”Hail to the Thief.” Others carried American flags with corporate logos replacing the 50 stars. An egg was thrown at the president’s car.
Along the parade route, the jeers often drowned out the cheers for the president.
Saturday’s protest is planned and determined to be non-violent.
But the opposite of violent is not peaceful.
It will be loud and in opposition.
Like the next four years.
No justice. No peace.