A friend sent me this Chicago Tribune story over the weekend, and I had to read its key passage twice to make sure I was understanding it correctly. Unfortunately, I was. Amid all manner of unhinged derangement coursing through our society in this season of tumult, this still reads as satire. Alas, satire seems to be facing cancellation at the hands of reality. In which a progressive black woman is under pressure to step down from her leadership position because she is outwardly opposed to criminal conduct:
The principal of a well-known Chicago high school is under pressure to resign because, among other ‘problematic’ acts, she’s urged students to “not participate in violence or looting.” She, a black woman, is thus far refusing: https://t.co/Si2SPzJggS— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 13, 2020
Kenner, who previously worked for the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, has not been immune to criticism for her response to Floyd’s death and more broadly her leadership at Whitney Young, where she also spent five years as assistant principal. Now, after 25 years at the helm of Whitney Young, she finds herself the target of an online petition, posted by unnamed “disappointed alumni,” calling for her to resign, claiming she has “silenced student activists speaking against all forms of injustice. Her silence and her enabling of the systematic oppression that her black and low-income students face should be condemned.” So far it’s gained more than 800 signatures...
Some who signed the resignation petition cited her history at Whitney Young, claiming she has “worked to sweep the injustices ... under the rug” and “consistently puts the perception of the school by the general public over the well-being of her students.” Other critics have focused on more recent events. Several students told the Tribune they were offended by statements Kenner made in a video address about unrest sparked by George Floyd’s killing, in which she asked that if students do protest, they not participate in violence or looting, and said the way to seek change is to get a degree and get a "seat at the table.”
There is a radical, emergent school of thought that claims it's racist for anyone to tell communities of color how not to channel their outrage, even if such admonitions entail discouraging or denouncing violent rioting. To see this nonsense being deployed against someone with Kenner's background and position is jaw-dropping. To put a finer point on it, of course a high school principal should warn her students against participating in destructive, violent, criminal behavior. It's extreme and reckless to argue otherwise. Imagine actually saying out loud that an authority figure discouraging young people to engage in violent and criminal behavior represents proof that she's not interested in the "well-being of her students." Perverse. And yet the braying for Kenner's scalp has grown loud enough that it merited an article in her city's most prominent newspaper. Fortunately, so far, she is defiantly standing up to the mob:
Kenner says she’s “never tried to silence a student,” citing her open-door policy as the reason she’s still at Whitney Young. Further, she calls it “nonsense” to say she doesn’t support Black Lives Matter. “You could go by your experience, and the only thing I've ever tried to do is get our black kids educated so they have the opportunity to be part of this world,” Kenner said. She said she received dozens of messages from parents and alumni who support her and want her to stay. “Nobody is going to push me out. I’m not resigning. I still have a lot of work to do for my African American students,” Kenner said.
Let's hope she sticks to this. What childish, emotionalist, slash-and-burn mobs need more than ever are adults willing to look them square in the eye and say 'no,' then refuse to flinch. Far too many people are knuckling under and capitulating, including the leaders of the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation -- which has been roiled by an utterly ludicrous struggle session that stemmed from an insufficiently woke statement about black lives, leading to the unceremonious self-defenestration of its top officials. Be sure to note the appearance of the Orwellian 'language as violence' trope at the center of this conflagration. On the subject of rioting, Chicago's mayor (who was caught on tape blasting an alderman's criticisms and emotional pleas to halt rioters' destruction of certain neighborhoods) has acknowledged that luring businesses back into the city will be a challenge:
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it would take a "Herculean effort" to keep businesses open in disadvantaged neighborhoods after looting and damage that occurred during the first weekend of protests following the death of George Floyd. "I've been on calls and text messages with people all day who fought hard to bring economic development to areas of the city, only to see the Walgreens, the CVS, the grocery store, everything vanish in an eye blink," Lightfoot said on a May 31 call with distraught aldermen. "It's going to take a Herculean effort on the part of all of us to convince businesses not to disappear, to come back. We're prepared to fight that fight." Walmart can't confirm it will reopen its Chatham location on the city's South Side after it was ransacked...Target couldn't confirm it would reopen a nearby location either, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. Looting damage in metropolitan areas, including Chicago, between May 29 and June 3 totaled more than $400 million...
In Minneapolis, some businesses have announced they won't be coming back to the smoldering wreckage left in the wake of violent upheaval -- and in the wake of the city's failed leadership and insane move toward repealing and replacing the police, it would appear as though some residents are ready to head for the exits, too:
18.6% of Minneapolis’ total real estate listings have popped up for sale in just the last 7 days pic.twitter.com/ktgXXeIl1H— Compare The Media (@comparethemedia) June 12, 2020
All of this, incidentally, reinforces the righteousness and practicality of Principal Kenner's stance. People should be listening to her, not seeking her ouster. I'll leave you with this grimly humorous point about the New York Times' descent into sectarian madness. An op/ed from a Senator advancing a mainstream idea? Dangerous, unforgivable, fireable. Worthy of endless recriminations, wild spin and editorial policy reviews. An op/ed calling for the the literal defunding of law enforcement? Meh:
The idea that only right-wing NYT columns get the light, credulous editorial treatment is laughable.— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) June 13, 2020
"What about rape?" Nothing that follows comes close to actually answering the question -- just hand-waving and misdirection, which is par for the course for prison abolitionists. pic.twitter.com/5XT5tOCXgy
The Times, and so much of the news media, is profoundly broken: