Chicago: We Elites Have Failed You

May 21, 2024

I failed you, Chicago

You can (and should) blame "cisgender adult men" like me who possess male genitalia — as Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine would clinically label me these days instead of simply calling me a "dude" — for the descent into chaos of this once great city. 

Granted, I’m not the only one to castigate for the death of Chicago. But before indicting others, let me suggest that I should be public enemy number one. So stop tut-tutting at the local sleeper cells, including the “undocumented residents” that Kim Foxx and Brandon Johnson have intentionally activated to redistribute the city’s wealth at gunpoint. And instead, finger me (albeit not the way that’s being taught in Chicago classrooms and school libraries, mind you!) 

I’m your man to blame. Why? I did what any patriotic Frenchman would do in the face of the enemy when faced with adversity. I retreated. Guilty as charged! Je plaide coupable!

Instead of staying to fix Chicago’s problems, I turned and ran from the enemy, stopping only for a fleeting moment, one last time, at The Weiner Circle for a chocolate shake. Real business and civic leaders — true elites — don’t do this (the French surrender monkey part, that is, not the chocolate shake — they do that, discreetly, after getting sloshed earlier in the night at The Casino or Chicago Club).

As Churchill remarked: "Never give in. Never yield to force. Never yield to the overwhelming might of the enemy." Yet I ignored the order, letting out a smoke canister on the battlefield, and retreated, waiting only for the moving truck to make sure they had my Malort collection in full tow, before abandoning Chicago faster than a suspect booked on a felony gun charge is back on Chicago’s streets.

The withdrawal was sudden. 

For over two decades, I invested in Chicago, and Chicago invested in me (I got way more out of the bargain, mind you). I built a business, made great friends, ran the marathon four times (well, if you call my pace running), and stumbled home from Wrigley Field more times than I care to admit, even stopping at the Manhole once (don’t ask). 

It was frigging awesome. 

But right around the time someone I knew was violently assaulted downtown and then practically apologized for the criminal and his white privilege (you can’t make this up), I decamped for another state for good, disillusioned with the madness, and, most importantly, the fact that many of my old friends and peers were welcoming the chaos and started putting these strange things called pronouns next to their names. 

I also temporarily lost my sense of humor. But then things got so strange that I could only laugh, albeit from a distance. 

Of butt plugs and college admissions secrets 

I mean, it’s hard not to laugh out loud at any metropolis which is home to the infamous butt plug incident at the Francis Parker school (even more so when the “dean-o-phile” keeps his job after bragging about bringing rubber kink into the classroom). When one of your top high schools is best known for living out the plot of a bad adult film, albeit one involving classrooms, sex toys, bonus holes, safe spaces, and Ibram X. Kendi, you’ve got to start questioning your life choices.

Or sell the story to Disney for billions. 

But true elites do not give up (or shove it up there, for that matter, as the offspring of former elites are being taught in Lincoln Park these days, ironically following the footsteps of Lord Byron at Harrow, not that they would even know who he is anymore). Nor do their schools encourage their kids to change their gender or bat for the other team because doing so secretly increases their chances of getting into Brown or Columbia.

I have this theory that one of the primary reasons top Chicago schools have embraced the LGBTQIAPK2S+ pro-Hamas “from the river to the sea” crockpot is that identifying on this spectrum improves your kid’s chances of getting into a top college. It’s like that secret menu at In-In-Out Burger: You must ask about it to get it. In the absurd world in which we live, what these schools are doing encouraging alphabet kink actually makes perfect sense in the context of the lack of success they are having at getting “normal smart” kids with near-perfect SATs into “top” school (whatever that means these days, albeit at least high school indoctrination allows them to send these anti-preppies off “animal style" with rainbow flags and keffiyehs to hunt the cis-patriarchy and Zionist oppressors on campus). 

DKE and ZBT be darned. 

Bring back elitism 

Now is an excellent time to give me a minute to extol the virtues of the uniquely American flavor of elitism and why it remains a cornerstone of progress in cities (and societies) that still work. First, elitism is a social, class, and economic mobility engine. Throughout the history of mankind, at least until BLM convinced us otherwise in between finding and creating ways of celebrating the slaughter of Jews, elites in democratic societies knew that encountering adversity was a good thing (and they didn’t have to read Marcus Aurelius, the famous Stoic, to understand this). 

Adversity steeled us, toughened our skin, and made us seek the next challenge and discomfort. It did not make us victims; it made us better. But now, adversity is something else to some of my old friends in Chicago – a symptom of white supremacy – a place where the mere thought of rising to a tough challenge requires a trigger warning. 

Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, once said: “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” Former Chicago elites have not read their Jung. These people (mostly women, I’ve found, as well as truly self-loathing men) have become virtue-signaling dolts — the middle age types who proudly list their pronouns and DEI training cred on Linkedin — that encourage other dolts to wallow in the perception of the oppressed/oppressor binary. They celebrate and promote the myth of zero-sum game victimhood, raising their glasses of Brunello to the micro-aggressed and misgendered (or don’t say a word when others are doing it). These ladies (men included) let their husbands rush off to play squash at the U-Club or court tennis at The Racquet Club (or RCC, if you’re so inclined) while they read Robin DiAngelo’s latest in between their Peloton sessions and gossip about the latest farm-to-table Michelin restaurant they’ll head to after their white woman struggle afternoon session is over for the day.

In short, they’ve lost the essential life skill of tolerating anyone they disagree with, not to mention their ability to think, reason, argue, debate, change opinions in the face of data, and laugh — especially at themselves! 

These people, disillusioned former elites, now embody the anti-elite sentiment that has ruined downtown Chicago. They'd rather sit in their dark corners, clutching their participation trophies, firing the volunteer docents at the Art Institute (because old ladies who prefer to teach about art — for free — than lunch are somehow perpetuating white supremacy) and blaming MAGA and “red states” for all that is wrong in the world, in between their shopping splurges at Nieman’s and Nordy’s. 

Before they came to power, the elite environment in Chicago civic and business life dismantled absurdities and welcomed rigorous debate. It challenged prevailing notions and swiftly dispensed with poor-think (distinct from the Orwellian idea of "wrong-think"). After all, there's nothing like a good roast to clear the air of nonsense (and twerking). Elites learned to hold the line and accept compromise (like Rahm, who really was the ultimate compromise). 

But above all, Chicago elites used to fight to the end. To channel Blutarsky from Animal House: “Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

Conversely, the current milieu among erstwhile elite circles on the North Side exemplifies a self-destructive spiral, a far cry from the principled elitism that once upon a time led to the creation of The Economic Club of Chicago and the Viagra Triangle (best enjoyed in one evening together, not that I speak from experience). It’s as if the city took political advice from AOC, deciding that the best way to solve its problems was to post a series of impassioned Instagram stories while the house burns down in the mostly peaceful background during a riot on Michigan Avenue.

Bridges up, my friends!

Yet true elites contribute; they do not merely "take" to safeguard their status while they sip an ice-cold Picpoul or a Monkey 47 G&T at the Saddle and Cycle Club behind a guarded gate. They recognize and do something about the evil staring them in the face. But here we are, with our failed elite stuck in an endless cycle of DEI training sessions in their jobs at “The Northern” (Northern Trust for you plebians) or as parents at the Latin School, where everyone can attend a struggle session to feel guilty for things they’ve never done (but a place where somehow the bullying and subsequent suicide of a Jewish student is jolly good because he fell into the “oppressor” category on the spinning intersectional pinwheel of death — a circle of hell Dante could not even have envisioned). To channel intersectional Hamlet: Get thee to a safe space, albeit one where the old clubby, waspy chairs are hopefully less fragile to sit on than the egos that sit on them! 

What is old is new

Cicero, in describing Catiline, who conspired to overthrow the Roman government and seize control through violence (roughly 2000 years before Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and Nikole Hannah-Jones, mind you), so eloquently wrote: "O tempora, o mores! Senatus haec intellegit, consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit? Immo vero etiam in senatum venit."

In translation: "O the times! O the morals! The Senate understands these things, the consul sees them; yet this man lives. Lives? Indeed, he even comes into the Senate."

No, Cicero is not describing Toni Preckwinkle and the CTU. But he might as well be, as such individuals and groups tend to seize absolute power as empires wane — modern-day Catilines, if you will.

States in decline do not confront issues head-on. They flip them on their heads. Instead of law-and-order, for example, Chicago is stuck in the quagmire of restorative justice (advertised on a billboard near the Jane Byrne intersection downtown, no less), where the solution to crime is a group hug and an apology letter — and as many get-out-of-jail free cards as you want.

So for my friends that remain, if you’ve come to the same conclusion I have on the state of affairs in a place where the barbarians have not only breached the city walls but now actually run the show, you have three choices.

Your first is to be French. Run. As I did. Don’t be a Carthaginian. 

The second option is to channel Canada’s Jack Kevorkian-inspired medical system, a perfect choice if you value the comfort of complacency over the challenge of change and have indeed given up. Simply close your eyes, hum a soothing tune, and drift into the sweet embrace of oblivion by ingesting the goodies in the mystery bags sold by just about any male migrant in the Loop or on Michigan Avenue these days (just make sure there’s no Narcan handy).

The third choice, of course, is to stand up and fight.

There are better men and women than me who I hope attempt this. 

Chicago was the best city in America — and it can be again if the real elites who have been in hiding reclaim it from the zombie mind virus that has taken over Bucktown, Ravenswood, Gold Coast, and Lincoln Park housewives, and their cuckold hubbies too afraid to do anything about it. 

As for me, give me a bulletproof family truckster to guard against intersectional machine gun-toting “victims”, a winning Cubs team, and a four-pack of Daisy Cutter to get me back in a Chicago frame of mind and then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll muster up the courage to cruise down Jean Baptiste DuSable Lake Shore drive on a warm summer night and come out to play again with Chicago’s silly youth. 

Until then, bang, bang, skeet, skeet, my friends and allies!

J.D. Busch lived in Chicago for 20 years as an entrepreneur, investor, essayist, and humorist before packing up his old 911, throwing in his Brownings (they fit through the sunroof, when it works) and decamping for new hunting grounds.

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