A newspaper columnist in one of the country’s biggest cities is putting on a master class in journalistic courage — but liberals aren’t likely to be learning from it.
Veteran Chicago Tribune writer John Kass is standing tall against groundless accusations of anti-Semitism over a column he wrote last week pointing out the role of liberal billionaire George Soros in the decline of law enforcement in major urban areas.
The column was truthful and backed up by facts, and the point should have been at least somewhat familiar material to anyone who follows American politics: As even the liberal HuffPost has reported, Soros and his Open Society Foundations bankrolled the elections of liberal candidates for district attorneys offices throughout the country.
Soros, Kass wrote, “remakes the justice system in urban America, flying under the radar.”
My response to the #GeorgeSoros bs and #cancelculture in newsrooms:
I will not apologize for writing the truth about Soros.
I will not bow to those who’ve wrongly defamed me. Ever.
But I do thank readers and friends who stood by me.https://t.co/oAq6Y0AIue
— John Kass (@John_Kass) July 29, 2020
The results of those campaigns, Kass wrote in his July 22 piece, are all too evident — rising crime and urban riots that have led President Donald Trump to send federal agents to cities, including Chicago, where the local authorities are clearly overwhelmed.
“In Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, and elsewhere, it is the mayors who are the faces of their cities, not the prosecutors,” Kass wrote under the headline, “Something grows in the big cities run by Democrats: An overwhelming sense of lawlessness.”
“If Trump truly wants to help the cities, he might privately call the mayors and ask them about the prosecutors backed by Soros,” he said.
“These prosecutors are among the few politicians in America who have delivered on their promises. They promised to empty their jails through the social justice warrior policy of ‘decarceration.’ They also help give repeat, violent criminals little or no bond when arrested.
“And in many of the violent cities, the prosecutors have delivered on their promises, not to keep the violent in jail, but to let them out.”
There’s not a word of that that isn’t true.
Besides his own native Chicago and the notorious prosecutor Kim Foxx (best known nationally for her handling of the Jussie Smollett “attack” that was either incredibly corrupt or criminally inept), Kass’ mention of St. Louis, San Francisco and Philadelphia was no accident.
In St. Louis, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is a woman who has no interest in prosecuting criminals but has brought charges against a couple for defending their home from potential Black Lives Matter marauders.
Again, all are “progressive” prosecutors. All were backed by Soros money. And all are contributing in their own way to the lawlessness that’s rippling through the United States.
And what is the response from the Chicago Tribune Guild (the union that represents the newspaper’s employees)?
According to Chicago media columnist Robert Feder, a letter from the union claimed the column was anti-Semitic, and demanded an apology from the newspapers’ management and from Kass himself, on the spurious grounds that criticism of Soros is anti-Semitic.
The letter claimed the column was “antithetical to our values as a newsroom and detrimental to our hopes of winning new readers.”
“The essential point? The odious, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that billionaire George Soros is a puppet master controlling America’s big cities does not deserve a mainstream voice, especially at a time when hate crimes are rising,” the letter stated.
There’s not a word of “anti-Semitism” in the Kass column. In fact, if a reader didn’t already know Soros is at least nominally Jewish by birth, there was no indication that he is. Bringing that kind of criticism to the Kass column requires a level of intellectual dishonesty that is breathtaking even in the breathtaking year of 2020.
The letter apparently had some impact on the Tribune’s management. Kass’ column has been moved from Page 2 of the newspaper, where it has appeared since the death of the legendary columnist Mike Royko in 1997, to further back with other opinion pieces, Feder reported.
Of course, any honest reader would have to know the union’s letter is dishonest, politically motivated garbage, but in too many cases of late, prominent figures faced with dishonest, politically motivated garbage have disgraced themselves with an alarming willingness to grovel at the feet of their new liberal masters (the New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees leaps to mind).
Kass, fortunately, appears made of sterner stuff.
In a column published in the Tribune on Wednesday, he made it clear he wasn’t backing down.
“Most people subjected to cancel culture don’t have a voice. They’re afraid. They have no platform. When they’re shouted down, they’re expected to grovel. After the groveling, comes social isolation. Then they are swept away,” he wrote.
“The larger question is not about me, or the political left that hopes to silence people like me, but about America and its young. Those of us targeted by cancel culture are not only victims. We are examples, as French revolutionaries once said, in order to encourage the others.
“And, as they are shaped and taught to fear even the slightest accusation of thought crime, they will not view themselves as weak for falling in line. Instead they will view themselves as virtuous. And that is the sin of it.”
That’s infuriatingly true, but there’s another sin here: the sin that American journalism has fallen to the depth that it has — where broadcast and cable “news” anchors have no problems being pimped for cheap propaganda for the liberal cause.
And once-respected newspapers are no more than shrill sheets pushing an activist agenda.
The sin of it is that in the journalism of 2020 America, a column like the one Kass published Wednesday is newsworthy at all.
But it is, and as befits a piece by a veteran columnist as a master class in what once would have been the basics of journalism — make your point, back it up with facts and let the readers decide.
It’s a lesson the liberal media has no interest in learning.
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