One of the saddest things about John Kass’s present status as a right-wing blowhard is that he previously played a role in Chicago’s media landscape as a government watchdog, reporting for the Chicago Tribune on shady dealings at City Hall under Richard M. Daley. But following the death of legendary newspaperman Mike Royko in 1997, it was determined that Kass would be more of an asset to the Republican-leaning daily as a columnist.
The Trib has a right to throw red meat to its aging, suburban readership, but in recent years Kass has managed to find ways to be ever more reactionary, such as attacking so-called liberal responses to horrific tragedies. For instance, in an October 3 column in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, Kass painted renewed calls for sensible gun laws by Democrats as vulturelike behavior: “The dead weren’t even finished dying before the left swooped down to feed on gun control politics.”
Exactly how long does Kass think it’s necessary to wait before bringing up the obvious? Until the next heartbreaking incident in which dozens of innocent people are killed? In this case it was the Sutherland Springs church shooting, about a month later.
In that October 3 column, Kass acknowledged that the U.S. has more guns and gun crimes than any other country, and claimed he’s open to more debate on the issue. But he also argued that blaming the National Rifle Association for mass shootings is like blaming airplanes for 9/11. He went so far as to imply that a more important factor in U.S. gun massacres is the nation’s drop in church attendance.
When weighing in on the gun control debate, Kass—like President Donald Trump and other right-wingers—never misses an opportunity to bring up the homicide epidemic in Chicago and the failure of Democratic leaders to solve it. “Most killings aren’t committed by some lone sniper without apparent motive,” Kass wrote. “Street gangs continue their slaughter and City Hall is powerless to stop them.”
Kass continued that theme in an October 13 column after longtime Waldorf School math teacher Cynthia Trevillion, 64, was shot and killed in gang crossfire near the Morse el stop in Rogers Park. “Chicago politicians want you to think of it as gun violence because that gives them political cover,” he wrote.
Instead, the columnist suggested, the chief reason why murders are more common in the city than the suburbs, where he resides, is poor home training. He quotes a resident who asks, “Where are the parents of these kids? . . . Even at a young age, you can teach the difference between good and bad. But these boys who killed the teacher didn’t learn that.” Largely ignored in Kass’s self-righteous moralizing are the root causes of violence in Chicago’s lower-income communities: the legacies of segregation, neighborhood disinvestment, and redlining, as well as a host of continuing issues—addiction, mass incarceration, unemployment, lack of access to affordable housing and high-quality education and health care. A moutza to him. v