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By Harold Henderson

“After her first month [teaching sixth grade] at McKay [Elementary School in Marquette Park], [Christine] Etapa went to see her doctor for a checkup,” writes Grant Pick in Catalyst (May). “She’d lost 20 pounds. ‘What have you been doing, dieting?’ the doctor asked. ‘Nope,’ replied Etapa. ‘I’ve been teaching.'”

Why is the current class war one in which “the rich are winning, the poor are losing, and the left, for the most part, is standing by”? According to philosopher Richard Rorty in Harper’s (June), it’s because most leftists prefer to talk about “rights” instead of solidarity. “Instead of saying, for example, that the absence of various legal protections makes the lives of homosexuals unbearably difficult, that it creates unnecessary human suffering for our fellow Americans, we have come to say that these protections must be instituted in order to protect homosexuals’ rights….Discussion of which rights exist and which do not seems to me a philosophical blind alley, a pointless importation of legal discourse into politics, and a distraction from what is really needed in this case: an attempt by the straights to put themselves in the shoes of the gays.”

“We upper-middle-class opinion leaders misunderstand the world” when we insist on gun control, writes Northwestern University law professor Dan Polsby in Reason (March); “we abide in safety behind a ring of steel. Police officers and security guards keep and bear our arms for us, so that we do not remember how constantly we need them.”

Hello, dear–just calling to let you know I’ve stayed in a Loop hotel two nights now and I’m not dead yet. Roosevelt University’s Institute for Metropolitan Affairs critiques Chicago’s tourist marketing (Renaissance, May): “Out-of-town guests of all types (business, leisure, international) are often surprised by the natural attractions, amenities, cleanliness, safety and other advantages that the city offers.”

Alderman Richard Mell “will replicate his saturation precinct operation this autumn with a Multiple-Rod attack on Flanagan” in the 5th Congressional District, writes Russ Stewart in Illinois Politics (April). “In the east, Liberal Rod [Blagojevich] will be the great protector of Medicare, fighter for gun control, and battler of Newt; in the west, Ethnic Conservative Rod will be the champion of balanced budgets, welfare reform, and protector of Medicare.”

I have a dream–sort of. State budget director Joan Walters, quoted in Poverty Issues… Dateline Illinois (May 12): “I dream of the day when the federal government is replaced by an ATM machine.”

“The supposed crisis of American suburban development patterns appears to be largely nonexistent,” writes UIC architectural historian Robert Brueggman, in his chapter of the new book Preparing for the Urban Future. “All available evidence shows that Americans living in suburbs, despite unhappiness with certain problems, notably traffic congestion, are on the whole quite happy, at least as happy as their counterparts in small towns or in large city centers.”

Good news out of bad news. “More has always been expected of black girls than their brothers,” reflects author April Sinclair (Coffee Will Make You Black) in City Literature (May). “Education has always been seen as somewhat feminine or girlish–of less use to boys who are expected to go out and get a job, meaning physical labor….There has always been the attitude that a black girl has to make her own way in the world. They never had to fight their way down off a pedestal.”

“Lawyers are no longer members of a special guild, but are disposable employees working in legal firms that have come to resemble factories,” writes philosopher and former corporate lawyer Douglas Litowitz in the Illinois Bar Journal (March). Litowitz contends that Karl Marx’s theories explain why so many young lawyers feel as alienated from their work, themselves, and their colleagues as the 19th-century factory workers Marx described. “The not-so-secret desire of all lawyers is to be a rainmaker; the actual practice of law is a secondary, derivative concern, almost an afterthought.” Litowitz recommends that law firms do more mentoring, consider not billing by the hour, and focus on quality rather than quantity. “Of course, these suggestions will make the legal profession less profitable, less business-like. But this is a cost that we can afford to bear.”

Protest mottoes we couldn’t get out of our heads, from the North Beverly Neighbors anti-cul-de-sac newsletter: “Dissent does not stop just because the cement is dry.”

Should men be allowed to vote? Writing in Republican Woman (March), pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick addresses the gender gap: “Why…do polls show a wide difference between men and women on the matter of political parties and voter intent? First, women looked more cautiously at the policies put forth by the GOP-controlled Congress throughout 1995 than did their male counterparts. With many men immediately supporting budget changes in major entitlement programs, women sought proof of the probable effect of those changes.”

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Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.