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Welcome to our world, Mr. Coates

Thursday, Oct 19, 2017

* Tribune

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates didn’t get to be the most discussed public intellectual in America by pussyfooting around when it comes to race.

So he was characteristically direct this week during a trip to Chicago, telling Chicago Inc. that President Donald Trump and conservatives “use Chicago as a tool — ‘Chicago’ has become code for ‘black people.’ ” […]

He said the constant national focus on Chicago’s crime problem started under President Barack Obama as a way to diminish the first black chief executive.

“They use ‘Chicago’ to shame people,” he said… “I’m not trying to make light of any of the violence in Chicago at all that you see on the West Side or the South Side, but this sense that Chicago is somehow alien or outside of America is just absurd, it’s ridiculous.

That’s been the case in Illinois for as long as anyone can remember. It’s why I’ve been so hard on Gov. Rauner whenever he’s used that dog whistle

“The Senate and the House were competing with each other, who could spend more to bail out Chicago with your tax dollars from southern Illinois and central Illinois and Moline and Rockford and Danville — the communities of this state who are hard-working families who pay their taxes.”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what he was saying there.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

58 Comments
  1. - Lincoln Parker - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:38 am:

    The daily show also covered something similar on Monday

    http://www.cc.com/video-clips/hhp1wy/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-the-daily-show-takes-chicago–culture-and-crime-in-obama-s-hometown


  2. - slow down - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    Yep, this is sadly yet another example of how lockstep Rauner is with Trump, and also of the long history of this particular dog whistle in Illinois.


  3. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    I thought this was already obvious and well-known on a national level.

    I’m pretty sure the intended audience has been picking up what Trump and others have been putting down. That’s why they do it.


  4. - Sugar Corn - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    Pawar was pretty darned good at calling out Rauner on this. Hope another candidate carries the torch.

    Tired of the racist euphemisms.


  5. - Flapdoodle - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:44 am:

    Chicago has gotten a bum rap forever, and not just in Illinois or the U.S. When I was a high school exchange student to Germany in 1963-64 and told people I’d lived in the Chicago area, the first things they asked were if I knew any gangsters or belonged to a gang. Ugh.


  6. - Downstate - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:51 am:

    So Chicago has a poor reputation. We can either lament those that are using it as a political tool, or we can change the image. NYC certainly faced as big, or bigger challenge in the 1970’s and they turned it around.


  7. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:55 am:

    ===the first things they asked were if I knew any gangsters===

    One of my favorite Harold Washington lines. Paraphrasing here: “It used to be, when you’d travel and tell people you were from Chicago they’d say ‘Al Capone! Rat-a-tat-tat!’ Now, they say ‘How’s Harold?’”


  8. - Roman - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    Throughout the 2012 campaign, Drudge Report and Fox News featured numerous stories on Chicago violence, eventhough the violent crime rate in the city was steeply declining. But it was a convenient way to convince people Obama was a scary black man from a scary black city that’s been enveloped by violence since he became president. Nevermind that the crime rate in Chicago was much higher in the 70’s and 80’s under “law-and-order” presidents like Nixon and Reagan.

    Dog whistle, indeed.


  9. - Pundent - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:00 am:

    =We can either lament those that are using it as a political tool, or we can change the image.=

    Well when the governor of this state, who could play a significant part in changing the image, joins the fray that’s kinda tough.


  10. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:01 am:

    I imagining when the billionaires retreat begins, it does so with the gang singing ‘Picaninny” from the “Hair” album - just to get the tone right and never forget their heritage.


  11. - Steve - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:01 am:

    Everything is racism with Comrade Coates. When you are a race hustler like Coates denying facts can be profitable.


  12. - NW - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    When I was moving to Chicago 35 years ago from NYC, the big concern from friends and family was the political corruption of the democratic machine. In NYC universities, there were many discussions about how Chicago finagled the 1960 presidential election. I’ve never heard “Chicago” used as an euphemism for racism,but my east coast family and friends still use the word to mean mob and democratic machine controlled and consider the democratic control the cause of Chicago’s
    dysfunction as in the “Chicago way” and “vote early and often, it’s Chicago”.


  13. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    ===I’m not trying to make light of any of the violence in Chicago at all===

    Because you can’t. It’s a serious problem that decades of Democratic leadership haven’t been able to change because they are not serious about addressing it. Until they get serious by dedicating the time and resources, people will continue to have that perception. And, as we all know, perceptions are reality in politics.


  14. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    – Al Capone–

    MJ and the Bulls were the international face of Chicago for a while. Even Kim Jong Un has been reported to have a serious man-crush on MJ. But he has to settle for Dennis….

    That second three-peat was like Elvis and The Beatles on tour when they came to town.


  15. - charles in charge - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    ==Everything is racism with Comrade Coates. When you are a race hustler like Coates denying facts can be profitable.==

    What “facts” is Coates “denying,” Steve? Do you dispute that Trump and others do in fact use “Chicago” as a code word for “black people”?


  16. - pawn - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Downstate, It is not about Chicago’s reputation here. It is about racist signaling.


  17. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Being the most talked about doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about. He hears dog whistles where ever he goes.


  18. - charles in charge - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    ==He hears dog whistles where ever he goes.==

    If you don’t hear those dog whistles, you’re not listening very hard.


  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    True, but it’s also used as a convenient strawman for folks who don’t think Chicago should bear the consequences of horrendous governance.


  20. - gadfly - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of reading almost everything Coates has written. Coates’ MO: every problem is rooted in white racism, state the obvious, and make long winded circular arguments that always lead back to the need for reparations. We need to stop giving him a stage and hopefully, he will go away. There are actual scholars who have a lot more meaningful things to say about race and class than the “essayist” Ta-Nahsi Coates


  21. - illini97 - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:19 am:

    “Being the most talked about doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about. He hears dog whistles where ever he goes.”

    He’s an African American journalist and a MacArthur Fellow. I’d trust him telling me something is a dog whistle more than I would trust you, frankly.


  22. - Texas Red - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:20 am:

    The inference I make when national leaders bandy about the name “Chicago” has nothing to do with race; rather it has to do with misguided gun laws. Chicago had the most restrictive gun control laws of any major city until SCOTUS forced the city to go from outright hostility to barley tolerating personal gun ownership.


  23. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    Some of you dont hear the dog whistles?

    Are you also of the belief that Trump and Sheriff Joe were sincerely on the hunt for Obama’s birth certificate all those years, with their “investigators” discovering all sorts of shocking “evidence?”

    Because, respect for the office, amirite?


  24. - City Zen - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    ==If you don’t hear those dog whistles, you’re not listening very hard.==

    My ability to hear whistles meant for the animal kingdom has been diminished and impaired.


  25. - The Historian - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    Folks interested in serious, *liberal,* African-American critiques of Coates’ very serious shortcomings should look up and read Randall Kennedy and Thomas Chatterton Williams’ critical essays on him.


  26. - Ron - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    100% correct Mr. Coates.


  27. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    “He hears dog whistles where ever he goes.”

    Perhaps, but I still agree with Rich.

    – MrJM


  28. - DeseDemDose - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    The Illinois Republican Party thrives on the Chicago dog whistle and that is all they got. IPI is the Chicago dog whistle on steroids.


  29. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:42 am:

    ===perceptions are reality in politics===

    Only to the shallow.


  30. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Coates is spot-on. Chicago is a go-to racist dog whistle for many right wingers. His pointing it out and being called a race hustler proves it.

    Firearm deaths are higher per capita in red states and districts, as is reliance on tax dollars. So these people need to look at themselves first before slurring others.


  31. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    ===We need to stop giving him a stage and hopefully, he will go away===

    Or maybe you could go away.


  32. - Colors of Fall - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:48 am:

    Anonymous said “True, but it’s also used as a convenient strawman for folks who don’t think Chicago should bear the consequences of horrendous governance.”

    No, your claim that there are people who think that is the actual straw man here.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    It’s obvious… in its context and to audience when used… what “Chicago” is meant to convey.

    There is now this accepting of dog whistle dogma that wants the obvious hidden message embraced with the cover of what is implied kept out of the direct language to say it.

    It’s more than troubling, it’s running counter-intuitive to what this country and state stand for, as those using it try to make it the basis of what they want this country to devolve to.


  34. - Roman - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    == It’s a serious problem that decades of Democratic leadership haven’t been able to change because they are not serious about addressing it. ==

    I wish it was that simple…that our leaders just need to get “serious.” I’m no Rahm fan, but I’m pretty sure curbing violence is one of the things he’s most serious about.

    By the way, Indianapolis has had decades of mostly Republican leadership, yet it has consistently had a higher murder rate than Chicago. Deep economic and social issues at play here that neither party can solve with the flip of a switch.


  35. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:01 pm:

    “folks who don’t think Chicago should bear the consequences of horrendous governance”

    How many who single Chicago out for bad governance turn a blind eye to the Bush II presidency, the Kansas trickle-down experiment or Rauner’s governance? How many sweat black and brown people for getting public aid but say nothing about tax loopholes and subsidies that go to the richest white people—or laws like RtW that aim to put the richest, most privileged people at permanent advantages?


  36. - Liberty - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    Liberals love to invent and reinvent language.


  37. - Regular democrat - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:16 pm:

    Rich why dont u ask the giv next time u see him about his comments and if he is familiar with the term dog whistle. I would love to hear his response.


  38. - Shemp - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:16 pm:

    Um, Danville and Rockford are hardly pasty white. Downstate resentment may be a political tool, but it is real and goes well beyond race.


  39. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:21 pm:

    – We have to stop giving him a stage…–

    Whose “we,” how would we do that and why?

    He’s not marching armed down the street screaming about Jews and “blood and soil” like some who are alleged to be “good people” in some circles.


  40. - L.A. - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:24 pm:

    Liberty - You mean like “alternative facts”?


  41. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    =Chicago had the most restrictive gun control laws of any major city until SCOTUS forced the city to go from outright hostility to barley tolerating personal gun ownership=

    How is that change working out?

    Is everything better now? Let me check the record… Nope.

    Good call TR. /s


  42. - JS Mill - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    =Liberals love to invent and reinvent language.=

    Mmm, love it when some genius starts out with using the term “liberal” as a pejorative. Only to be sweetened by the fact that their adopted moniker is “Liberty”.

    Brilliant.

    Yes “Liberty” only “liberals” (I am not one but I don’t mind them or conservatives) mess with words.

    Like how the alt right acts like public employees are not “tax payers” (or probably people for that matter) that is just unique to “liberals”. /s

    Maybe take your meds every day instead of every other day.


  43. - gadfly - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    I’m gone, Rich. I don’t need any more white people telling me that as a black person I can’t be critical of other black people


  44. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    Burr Ridge.


  45. - Saluki - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    Talking about Dog Whistles, and calling republican politicians racists is easy. Doing something about Chicago’s violence and multitude of problems, not so easy. Mr. Coates, “the intellectual” seems to have taken a road often traveled.


  46. - Roman - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:49 pm:

    - JS Mill -

    Thanks for pointing that out…can’t be said enough. Every time I see the Sarah Huckabees of the world trot out the “most restrictive gun laws” talking point I want to scream at the television. Using their logic, Chicago’s rate of gun violence should have decreased when the SC threw out the city’s restrictive gun laws — the opposite has happened.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that’s why violent crime increased the last couple years. The point is, muninciple gun laws, whether they’re restrictive or lax, have little to do with gun violence in Chicago.


  47. - City Zen - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    ==Liberals love to invent and reinvent language.==

    This trigger warning has my working family retreating to their safe space.


  48. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 1:09 pm:

    TR, it’s always cherry picking season in your neck of the woods, ain’t it?

    St. Louis, New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, Memphis, Cleveland, Birmingham, Jackson and more are all big cities with higher homicide rates than Chicago. Is it because of their gun laws?

    The mystery remains why NYC and LA have such lower rates.

    Do you think it’s because of their gun laws?


  49. - Toast - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    ##How is that change working out?##

    Largely irrelevant, given how many of the offenders would actually qualify for a FOID card, let alone possess one.


  50. - Texas Red - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 1:31 pm:

    the perception of racism, being triggered by the use of the word “Chicago” by elected leaders seems to be subjective. Gun laws are objective facts.


  51. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    With Coates there is only one solution. A Chicago run in Black Panther. Pick it up if you read such things, he’s done a great run on it.


  52. - Mary W - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 2:00 pm:

    Didn’t the NRA and others promise us concealed carry would make us safer? Murders in Chicago since Illinois’ CC law took effect:

    2014: 432
    2015: 468
    2016: 762

    Not sayin’ CC has made things worse,but it certainly hasn’t made things better.


  53. - dbk - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 4:08 pm:

    I’m still waiting for a gubernatorial/mayoral candidate who’s going to stand up and say “We are one.”

    Because we are - Chicago is in Illinois, and Illinois is entirely different from Indiana and Iowa and Missouri and Kentucky and Wisconsin and and and … largely because of Chicago.

    And yes, there’s a serious problem, but it isn’t helped by dog whistles that we here understand. It’ll be helped when a governor and a mayor stand together and say “The West side/South side needs jobs and decent housing and great schools.”

    That was one of the reasons I was hoping Chicago would propose South Works as the Amazon HQ2 - because that would really have said something about the Mayor, and the Governor, and the people of Illinois.

    And the thing is, everybody knows what the issue in Chicago is: it’s poverty and structural racism, the historical consequence of a century of redlining and 40 years of de-industrialization.

    Coates’ latest Atlantic essay has been subjected to serious push-back from the left. Those interested might want to check out what Paul Street had to say about it.


  54. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 4:12 pm:

    ===I’m still waiting for a gubernatorial/mayoral candidate who’s going to stand up and say “We are one.”===

    Then you should’ve contributed money to him because he dropped out last week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE6rlHHg0oc


  55. - dbk - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 4:28 pm:

    –Then you should’ve contributed money to him because he dropped out last week–

    Yeah, I noticed. And if I had any money, I would have done exactly that.


  56. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 5:44 pm:

    Great school are a reflection of the student body.


  57. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 8:51 pm:

    “Dog Whistle”? Maybe it’s time we acknowledged the failure Chicago is for too many of it’s citizens of all colors and ethnic backgrounds. Maybe it’s time to ask what political party has been in charge of this city since the turn of the last century. Maybe it’s time to admit that they have spent the city into abject debt. Maybe it’s time to ask why the school system is the way it is and why the vast majority of school buildings are substandard. Maybe it’s time to ask why special education students don’t get the services they are entitled to. Maybe it’s time to really try and stop the daily shootings. But no, to all the little Dems in the city and the state it’s never their fault. It’s the republicans, Rauner, trump, white people, racists, the NRA, anybody and everybody but themselves. Denial is such a useful attitude. It means you never have to change. Denial, that’s the real issue in Chicago.


  58. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 20, 17 @ 8:36 am:

    NeverPoliticallyCorrect
    Great post and a good topic for further discussion.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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