Monday, February 22, 2016

How much times have changed politically. Bernie proud of protest bust

There would have been a time when a candidate seeking government office would have considered it a political death if word got out that they once took part in a political protest.

And the thought that there were pictures of the candidate in question being cuffed by police officers who are hauling him off to jail? You can forget about that guy ever being able to think of running for office again.

YET TIMES TRULY do change, it seems.

For that is the situation presidential dreamer Bernie Sanders, the senator from  Vermont who has proudly used the socialist label to describe his political leanings, is now in.

Kartemquin Films found it had footage of a protest that took place on Aug. 5, 1963 at 73rd Street and Lowe Avenue, with one of the protesters bearing a strong resemblance to what we’d think a youthful Sanders would look like.

Also, the Chicago Tribune went digging through their own archives and found that one of their photographers took pictures of that protest. One of which is the “money shot,” so to speak, of a protester in handcuffs being taken away.

THE PROTESTER IN question in that shot? A then-student at the nearby University of Chicago by the name of Bernie Sanders.

I’m sure if Sanders were seeking the Republican nomination for anything, his reaction would be different. For that matter, if any of those knuckleheads seeking the presidency were to have been in a protest way back then, we’d be hearing the apologies now.

Now they were experiencing a moment of youthful ignorance, and how they now know better than to do anything so disrespectful as to express opposition to the establishment.

Which is a sentiment that many of those conservative ideologues really believe, even though such expression of opposition is about as “American” a concept as exists.

BUT BERNIE IS wishing to be the Democratic nominee, and one who sees how his past actions can actually be used to bolster the image he wants to create for himself as he tries to avoid losing the early momentum he gained from victories or near victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Because one of the raps against the Vermont politico is that he’s an old white guy who’s really not all that in tune with the interests or concerns of black people.

As it turns out, Sanders was arrested while protesting the “Willis Wagons.” Which to anyone who knows their Chicago history was that 1960s effort by Chicago Public Schools officials to thwart efforts to truly integrate the schools racially.

When the black neighborhood schools became too cramped, rather than move the overflow to schools in white neighborhoods (let’s not forget that many white families were already using the Catholic school system to keep away from people not like themselves), school officials erected mobile homes in the parking lot to use as extra classroom space.

THE THEN-SUPERINTENDENT of the Chicago Public Schools back then was Benjamin Willis – hence the use of the “Willis Wagon” monicker to denounce the practice.

The practice eventually created such a backlash that it drove Willis out-of-town. And when Willis died decades later, his obituaries all led with the fact that he was the namesake of the wagons.

The ones that caused the liberal-minded college student to spend a day in the Englewood neighborhood to protest – and be obnoxious enough that the police felt compelled to take him away.

And now, he wants it to help bolster his “liberal” credentials against Hillary – whose own ‘ancient history’ credentials include once being a youthful member of the Congressional staff that looked into impeachment for then-President Richard M. Nixon concerning Watergate.

SO A LOW-LEVEL Watergate staffer versus someone who ‘went to jail’ (even if it was just a couple of hours in a South Side police district holding cell) to picket something still considered locally repulsive some five decades later?

Who knows? It may actually get Bernie a couple of extra votes in Chicago!


No comments: