By John Ruberry
Last month the Chicago Tribune’s lead columnist, John Kass, penned a column about left-wing billionaire George Soros and his funding of campaigns of Democratic prosecutors such as Cook County’s Kim Foxx–who can rightly be called soft-on-crime. Despite a state of Illinois threshold of $300, Foxx won’t prosecute accused shoplifters unless they steal merchandise worth more than $1,000. Even before this spring’s rioting and looting in Chicago, shoplifting was on the rise.
Criminals appear to be emboldened in Chicago–as the consequences for illegal activities diminish, people believe they can get away with more crimes. Think of it as the opposite of the “broken windows” theory of law enforcement. While I admit it could be a leap to equate Foxx’s permissive attitude on prosecution of crimes to an even more violent Chicago, but shootings and murders for July, 2020 were up dramatically from the previous July. Still I believe Foxx bears some of the responsibility. While the suits in the Chicago Police Department are claiming overall crime is down, I suspect shell game chicanery or something even more troubling. It could be that fewer crimes are being reported because victims believe that it won’t make a difference. The victims know, with minor crimes, Foxx won’t prosecute.
And what about more serious crimes?
In that controversial piece, Kass opined, “And in many of the violent cities, the prosecutors have delivered on their promises not to keep the violent in jail but rather to let them out.”
Kass’ column brought about a fierce backlash by the Chicago Tribune Guild, a union that Kass does not belong to, calling that piece an “odious, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that billionaire George Soros is a puppet master controlling America’s big cities.”
That column led to a demotion of sorts from Kass. After over twenty years of his column being placed on Page 2, a halcyon spot once occupied by the legendary Mike Royko, Kass’ column has been moved, by the Trib’s editor-in-chief Colin McMahon to the opinion section, in order to, in his words “maintain credibility of news coverage.” That’s not a credible statement as I’m certain there are very few people who see Kass’ work as anything but opinion.
In that column about Soros, Kass did not mention the billionaire’s faith or ethnic origin. I’m going to be more direct. Kass didn’t say in that piece that Soros is Jewish.
On his Daily Herald blog about the Kass battle, Robert Feder, a longtime media reporter, referred to him as the “Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.”
Whoah. Let me repeat that, the “Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.”
I remarked on my own blog:
Replace “white” with black and “male” with female. And of course “conservative” with liberal. Do you think if Fraud Feder wrote that about an African-American writer at the Trib who is a woman that he would have gotten away with it?
Of course he wouldn’t have.
Which reminds me of something I read in high school from George Orwell. Not Animal Farm or 1984, but his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language.
This line stands out from that classic: “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.'” Contemporary liberals, and especially leftists, reflexively label their critics as “fascists.”
I’m sure there is a Kass column over the years, none currently come to mind however, where in my opinion he was totally wrong. Any attacks on that theoretical opinion piece from me, correctly, should be on refuting his points with facts, or at least reasoned thoughts. Not, as some people might, retorting that Kass is wrong because he’s a white man, or that he benefits from “white privilege” and “systemic racism.”
Is white becoming, in Orwell’s words, “something not desirable?” Or worse, something that is inherently wrong?
Conveniently, at least for this post, Kass is of Greek descent. Much if not most of classical logic comes from the ancient Greeks. Oh, let’s say Kass is a Filipino-American. I’d still make the same points you’ll see next.
In college I took a logic course–and seriously–it may have held me back in the work force. I guess I’m too logical. There are a number of argumentative fallacies that the ancient Greeks identified, including the “fallacy of origins,” now generally called the “genetic fallacy.”
Here’s what Purdue’s Online Writing Lab offers on this subject:
Genetic Fallacy: This conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example:
The Volkswagen Beetle is an evil car because it was originally designed by Hitler’s army.
In this example the author is equating the character of a car with the character of the people who built the car. However, the two are not inherently related.
So, if the Chicago Tribune Guild wished to honestly attack Kass, they should have pointed out where they believe Kass is wrong about Soros and his funding of campaigns of Democratic prosecutors. They didn’t. They responded with another logical fallacy, the ad hominem attack, calling him anti-Semitic.
The Chicago Tribune Guild couldn’t, or was to lazy to, argue with Kass’ Soros column on its merits. Or lack of.
Feder in his blog post deemed it necessary to mention Kass’ race, gender, and political philosophy in explaining the columnist’s demotion.
That path angered me, so much so that for my Marathon Pundit post about Feder’s attack I used this headline, “Leftist Daily Herald blogger Robert Feder calls columnist John Kass ‘Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.'” Okay, I admit, I don’t know if Feder is really a leftist but such a verbal assault is something leftists do now. Apparently stung, he accused me of “faux outrage” on Twitter.
But the outrage is real.
Using one’s race, faith, lack-of-faith, ethnic background, sexual identity and the like as a means of argumentative attack is something until recently I thought was a relic of a more ignorant era, or the denizen of crude online forums. Or the weapon of drunken barroom rants.
Our society is headed the wrong way.
And if white people are today’s bogey man tomorrow it may another group. Movements with absolutist philosophies eventually eat their own. See the French Revolution. Or the Russian Revolution.
The “cancel culture” may be coming for you.
Kass is a brave man who is not backing down, as he explained in another column last week.
While Voltaire never said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” he should have. Because it’s a noble sentiment I believe in. And no one is always right. Yep, not even me. Not John Kass either. No political philosophy has the solution to every problem. We need each other.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.