by Joe Scarry
The email came in at 1:22 a.m. with the subject line “Democracy.” It was from the coordinator of a citizen referendum to prevent the militarization of a school in Chicago.
I skim quickly to find out more . . .
This morning I found the confirmation on sites providing poll tallies: “Close to 67 percent of voters were in favor of Logan Square’s Ames Middle School remaining a neighborhood school as opposed to it being converting to a military school.” (See Progress Illinois, “LIVE BLOG: Polls Are Closed, Time For The Results In 2014 Primary Election”)
Work remains to be done. The vote was an “advisory referendum,” and not binding on the City. (Most mayors would see the clearly expressed will of the people in this vote, but we’re talking about Rahm Emanuel here.)
Nonetheless, this is a vote that should encourage people across the country who are working diligently to protect young people from the undue influence of the military, especially in our schools.
The hardest thing for me to understand about the whole effort to militarize Ames is, why would anyone want to go into a place that is dedicated to community involvement, creativity, and leadership development, and change the focus to “following orders”?
More than anything, I have a visceral memory of lying in the grass in Lincoln Park as a jet streaked east towards the lake, and the thought occurred to me, “This would be terrifying if I were a rice farmer in a paddy somewhere and I didn’t know what this is all about.” Yes, I confess, up until that moment, I had approached the Chicago Air & Water Show with very little perspective, or awareness, or empathy for others.