Chicago's troubled beaches | Bleader

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chicago's troubled beaches

Posted By on 06.08.11 at 01:08 PM

Nothing is less welcome than a dose of historic context when feelings are running high. There are exceptions — such as when history is invoked to further fan the flames, by reminding partisans that in addition to all the current affronts there are 8th century sieges and slaughters still insufficiently avenged. But history offered for purposes that are essentially meditative is butting in where it doesn't belong.

So I ask you, what is the point of Whet Moser's blog post Wednesday for Chicago magazine, "A Brief History of Flash Mobs and Chicago Beach Violence," which reminds us not only that "Chicago has a long history of newsworthy beach violence" but that it "actually used to be much worse"? What point does Moser think he's making when he tells us that in 1929 the Tribune editorialized that "under the circumstances it would seem that the Negroes could make a definite contribution to good race relationships by remaining away from the beaches where their presence is resented"? Moser's teasing us or something, but I'm not sure what his game is. All I know is that this week the Tribune editorial page was able to tell police "to publicly declare war on the flash mobs" and to "speak forthrightly about the scope of the problem" without mentioning anybody's race at all.

And yet, though Moser contributes absolutely nothing to the raging discussion over whether the crime spree will vanish the instant Chicago provides visitors with hand guns on arriving at O'Hare, there is something beguiling about the long view he provides. It might simply be that it's journalism that isn't like all the other journalism.

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