If there's ever an illustration of how "progressive" elites and
organized labor are keeping the very people they supposedly care about
locked up on the plantation, it's their consuming opposition to a new
Wal-Mart store on the South Side.
The impoverished, unemployed, blacks, seniors, teens--they're all
getting a good frigging by the organized campaign by white liberals and
powerful unions to block the construction of only the city's second
Wal-Mart, at 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue.
The rousing success of the city's first Wal-Mart at 4650 W North
Ave. providing jobs and shopping for a West Side neighborhood in great
need of them hasn't dissuaded the elites in the least from blocking
something that people want and need.
More evidence of progressive, white elitism behind the opposition is
provided by a new survey conducted for the retailer that found that
76.7 percent of the 75,347 city residents surveyed want the new store
(margin of error of ±0.34 percent). While the poll received a decent
amount of publicity, what didn't was the ward-by-ward breakdown of the
Not surprisingly, and quite disturbingly, opinion generally
reflected income and racial differences among the wards. In other
words, support for the new Wal-Mart in North Side wards, which are
chockfull of white progressives, is softer than in the South and West
Side wards that are predominantly black or poor.
To be sure, majorities in every one of the city's 50 wards supported
the new Wal-Mart, which ought to alarm the City Council staunchest
opponents. Aldermen usually can be counted on to rubber stamp any
building or development proposal (including a Children's Museum in
Grant Park) that comes along. Especially if the alderman of the ward in
which the project is to be built backs it, as is the case with Ald.
Howard Brookins, whose 21st ward would host the new store. That
aldermen would so easily toss overboard the public's viewpoint
demonstrates just how craven they can become when union campaign
contributions are dangled before them.
But it would be a mistake to chalk this up solely to organized
labor's stranglehold on the City Council. Progressives, from their
North Side enclaves, are full-throated in their opposition to a major
job generator--elsewhere in the city. The liberal lakefront wards--44,
46, 48 and 49--all are home to some of the city's strongest opposition.
In stark contrast, the heavily black and lower-income wards on the
South and West sides record the highest levels of support. Up on the
Northwest Side, home to many blue-collar organized workers, support is
weakest. What should be of some concern is the relatively weaker
support for the new store in Hispanic wards; apparently minorities are
not as unified as we are led to believe.
This column will inspire the usual howls of protest from
"progressives," who would have us believe that, from their distant
perch, they only have the welfare of the oppressed and impoverished in
mind. Even though their progressive roosts are blessed with an
abundance of jobs and places to shop. They don't have to get on a bus
to travel outside the city to work or shop. From their roosts, they are
comfortable and self-satisfied in their ideological hatred of Wal-Mart,
brushing aside pleas from those most in need of jobs and access to
Progressives will portray themselves as guardians of those pleading
for the Wal-Mart. Progressives say they are only are trying to
"protect" those poor people from low wages, insufficient benefits and
part-time work. Progressives have decided that for "those people" no
jobs are better than jobs that they want and need. Progressives will
cite their opposition to Wal-Mart as evidence of their compassion and,
It's all too condescending and patronizing. It all sounds too much
like racists who once said they know what's "best for our colored."
It's beyond shameful.
This column also appeared in ChicagoDailyObserver.com