Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Not all activity confined to Chicago

Why do I suspect that long after the typical Chicagoan has forgotten about the “chaos” caused by NATO Summit protesters, they’re still going to be pondering what happened Saturday in suburban Tinley Park?

That “happening” was an off-the-wall attack that took place at the Ashford House restaurant on 159th Street in the southwest suburb, which on Monday looked from the outside like nothing was out-of-the ordinary.

A DIGITAL SIGNBOARD outside the restaurant touted prime rib dinners for $30 apiece.

Yet just about every report coming up these days indicates that business has stunk the past two days. Nobody seems too anxious to eat there, even though the area is far from a high-crime neighborhood.

This was the restaurant where a group of up to 15 people (the number keeps changing, but seems to be about a dozen) were attacked by masked men who charged into the restaurant bearing bats and hammers.

Five people from that latter group have been arrested, and bond has been set for them on the criminal charges they now face.

BUT BEFORE ONE gets the sense that these were innocent bystanders who got beat up, it seems that among the portions of the Internet that attract the white supremacists of the world, this gathering at the restaurant was being billed as almost a convention, of sorts, for white supremacists.

Or white racialists. Or white nationalists, or whatever other goofy label those people try to come up with to legitimize their bigoted babble.

And from what police have said, the group that did the attacking is describing itself as an “anti-racism” group that seems to want to take things up a notch in expressing their opposition to a group of people who are a stain on our society.

At this point, nobody really knows for sure what any of these people really stand for, although Cook County prosecutors said during bond hearings for the five men now facing charges that the people who were attacked were all part of a group calling itself the Illinois European Heritage Association.

IS THIS REALLY just a group of white people who are taking pride in their ethnic origins? Or is that use of ethnicity just a cover for a group that dreams of the day when they can have a supremacy in our society that they don’t seem to merit by their own qualifications!

Personally, I have found that groups with legitimate interests in promoting their ethnicity are specific about what their ethnic origins are. “European” in this context is overly generic and reeks a bit too much not so much of “white” but of “not black.”

So it is believable that these people who got attacked aren’t exactly like you or me, even though I have noticed some conservative ideologues already are anxious to portray this event as a matter of violence against regular people trying to eat a meal.


WHAT CATCHES MY attention about all of this is the fact that none of these people have anything to do with the Chicago area. With the exception of the couple of restaurant employees who happened to be working Saturday when the outburst occurred and got caught – so to speak – in the crossfire.

The European “Heritage” group’s members don’t live around here. The people who organized this “event” said they chose suburban Tinley Park because of its centralized location – which is true because of the fact that Interstate 80 cuts through the southern edge of town and Interstate 57 is just to the east.

Which in all likelihood is why the now-shuttered Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park was the site of that 2008 shooting that left five people dead. It was all about location.

It would be easy for those living around the Midwestern U.S. to drive to this location without having to travel too deeply into Chicago proper.

EVENB AMONG THE five men who are the attackers and who believe they are standing up for decency and justice in our society aren’t from here. They all gave Indiana addresses – and I don’t mean the part of the Chicago metro area that crosses over State Line Road into the Hoosier State.

Every single one of these individuals made a special (and lengthy) trip to be here.

Why couldn’t they have found some other way of keeping themselves busy this weekend? Why not just stay home and cause trouble there?

A part of me is pleased to know that these are out-of-towners. Because it makes me glad to believe that the people of metro Chicago, by and large, are too sane to do something like this.

IT’S THOSE WACKY out-of-towners, who perhaps have turned out like this because they don’t experience the joys of living in Chicago – which I will always view as one of the nation’s great cities.

Then, there’s the bottom line. For an event that some believe was meant to be a gathering of racists to engage in trite trash-talk, there’s something about the image that they could only get a dozen people to show up that is reassuring.

The overwhelming majority of us are too sane to take such talk seriously.


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