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Is It the Politicians Or Is It the People?
By RAY HANANIA • Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper — Last week I had a chance to speak at a meeting of the United Business Association of Midway about Chicagoland politics, the Middle East conflict, and even got to perform a little comedy.
Hey, I’m a baby boomer. That’s what we do!
I made some points including: America can’t continue to jump into the Middle East without even bothering to understand the culture better. Had we educated ourselves about the Middle East, we would not have invaded Iraq, wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, and we would have easily defeated the terrorists in Afghanistan.
Iraq drained our resources — not to mention the thousands of young Americans who lost their lives or were disabled there. Iraq distracted us from Afghanistan, where we never finished the job. Instead of defeating terrorism, the terrorists are growing.
Failure in the Middle East is the fault of bad leadership. But the destruction of the Southwest Side is something else.
The 23rd Ward, once the heartbeat of the Southwest Side, has been gutted like a freshly slaughtered mackerel. It’s shaped like the upper set of dentures, worthless and with no bite.
Someone asked if we should blame Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan or the other local politicians. They could, but they’d be wrong.
Madigan is one of the smartest and most effective politicians in the state. I’ve covered him for 35 years. I remember when Madigan was introduced to Chicago business leaders in 1978 by then Mayor Michael Bilandic, who said Madigan is “going to become the leader of the state.”
Failure doesn’t start with leaders who do their best to represent the needs of their districts, or even the officials who represent the Southwest Side of Chicago and the suburbs. Madigan is one of the best leaders, whether you agree with him or not.
I blame Chicago’s problems on two things. The first is the public. They love to complain but they don’t care. Just look at voter turnout.
This week, we will see the true meaning of this failure. Already, the pundits are predicting, based on carefully conducted opinion surveys by professionals who have been doing this for years, that the voter turnout could be one of the worst we have experienced in years. Voter turnout is going to be very low.
The other cause of the Southwest Side’s problems is the bias and failed professionalism of the major news media. They don’t do their jobs. Their focus is to tear communities apart with scandalous, shocking stories that are usually exaggerated and often inaccurate. Today’s journalists can’t get the stories right and it doesn’t matter.
They live in exclusive suburban communities up north, communities they don’t slam in their yellow journalism. Instead, they bash the communities where they have no interests. The truth is the majority of journalists and editors live in the north suburbs, and the Southwest Side and suburbs are usually their victims.
The public doesn’t hold the major media accountable. In fact, the public doesn’t even support community-based newspapers like this one, which do care.
The major papers have been gutting the community newspapers, co-opting them and stealing their advertising, giving those communities nothing of substance in return.
Over the years, they have ignored the Southwest Side and suburbs, what I call Southwestland. They don’t care about communities. All they care about is scandal, tearing things down and even lying to sell their worthless newspapers. That’s why I host my own radio show and why I continue to write here.
Who do you blame? Blame yourself.
(Comment on this and other columns by calling Ray Hanania’s radio show Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. on WSBC AM 1240 or WCFJ AM 1470, or visit http://www.RadioChicagoland.com.) — City & Suburban News-Herald
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
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