Rachel Shteir is the Song that Never Ends

This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they'll continue singing it forever just because...This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was, and they'll continue singing it forever just because...(Norman Martin)

Rachel Shteir has generated more press coverage for her Chicago bashing than the Windy City Rollers. The Rollers deserve the media attention more than this unknown New York City transplant. Since the New York Times published her screed on April 18, a nobody nobody heard of has become as famous as Kim Kardasian's panoramic posterior. Media coverage, criticism, and approval has infected the news cycle.

Even The DePaulia, the Student newspaper of DePaul University, weighed in on their errant "respected" professor. "Last week, a fellow Blue Demon brought attention to Chicago. But this time, it wasn’t in a positive light."

Her appalling criticism of Chicago was not even fact checked, contrary to her claims. She was historically incorrect on several points. But, what do you expect from a New York transplant?

Chicago is a city that rose out of the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire. Boosters rich and poor, famous, infamous, and unknown who lost everything, rebuilt the city with a can do, I will attitude. Hard working people from all walks of life turned Chicago into the civilized, commercial, transportation, and social heart of the nation.

Chicago, like Rachel Shteir's beloved New York, is a large urban entity. It has its problems and issues. They are not ignored, as she claims. But, Chicagoans do not sit around  dwelling on them with fatalistic bleeding hearts. We work, earn livings, raise our families, and dream big dreams. Chicagoans have their priorities straight.

Chicago has always been a city of neighborhoods and that means segregation today, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever. Neighborhoods used to be strictly segregated by ethnicity, race, and economic class. With gentrification and the great migration from the suburbs that has changed. Even black and Hispanic neighborhoods are segregated, by class and economics. It is not right or wrong. It is the way of the world. I would bet that Ms. Shteir does not even know there is a long standing segregated animosity between South and West side blacks, physically, culturally, and socially.

Segregation in Chicago is more political than racist. Those racial voting blocs are important and must stay together. If there was full integration the political structure, especially the racial political power structure, would fracture and fall apart.

Yes, we have corrupt poltroon politicians, but New York has Bloomberg, a macaroon if ever there was one. Yes, there is gang, drug, and flashmob violence. Same with New York. Economic woes? What bubble has Shteir been living in? The whole nation has been suffering economically since 2008, including her beloved New York. Chicago is a far cry from the Detroit Shteir dooms it to be. We survived and thrived and will continue to do so. We are the city of can do, I will, and big shoulders. While others wring their hands in woe, Chicagoans go to work. We never give up.

The history of Chicago is a history of work. People immigrated here from all over the nation and the world. No one cared who or what you were, or even who you slept with, as long as you worked. The harder you worked the more respect you gained.

Shteir decried Chicago's boosterism as bloviating. This woman must really live in a bubbled trapped in a shell. All cities, towns, villages, and states, brag about themselves. If any city in the nation exhibits unbridled hubris, it is her hometown of New York. New Yorkers think everyone else in the nation are farmers.

Chicagoans are a proud people. We are even proud of our flaws. We walk around with a big chip on our big shoulders and unlike New Yorkers, we dare people to knock it off.

Chicago may be the Second City, but if it were not for Second City New York would never have Saturday Night Live. As Mayor Emanuel stated, Chicago produced the most Nobel Prize Laureates in the country. Some of the best and most famous reporters came from or started out in Chicago. Our public art was created by famous artists. In New York public art is trash piled creatively on the sidewalks and graffiti.

We have better saloons than New York, at least what few there are left. Chicagoans are friendlier too. If you ask for directions we will tell you where to go. Chicago, as Neil Steinberg wrote, is a "state of mind". You are either one of us or you can go back to where ever you came from and keep Chicago in the rear view mirror.

Rachel Shteir is a woman who spent 14 years in Chicago living in the cocoon of ivy towered academia. It appears she never accepted Chicago, never adopted the city who allows her to teach at one of its finest institutions, and never left her New York state of mind behind. The long time transplant demonstrated she really knows nothing about Chicago, except maybe how to get to and from work unassisted. Rachel Shteir may reside in Chicago but she was never in Chicago.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Leave a comment