Is It the Politicians Or Is It the People?

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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 — City & Suburban News-Herald

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania