Cheap Seats 2019
The Mob Rising - 02/06
By Rich Trzupek
Of the crimes committed by the mob during the French Revolution, and there were many, one of the most reprehensible was the judicial murder of the man known as the “Father of Modern Chemistry:” Antoine Lavoisier. Two and a quarter centuries after the guillotine separated the great man’s head from his shoulders, we find the mob rising once again in the most unlikely of places: 21st century America.
Lavoisier was killed because of who he was, not what he did. He was a nobleman, a part of the class that the mob despised and whom they blamed for everything wrong in their lives. There was a grain of truth in that judgement. Some of the ruling class had shamelessly and mercilessly exploited the peasants of 18th-century France. But I believe not most and certainly not all and most certainly not Lavoisier, whose life was dedicated to advancing knowledge.
The mob didn’t give a rip about distinctions within the ruling class and gave less than a rip about Lavoisier’s contributions to science. He was guilty of being part of the wealthy ruling class and that’s all that mattered. As revolutionary judge Jean-Baptiste Coffinhal is rumored to have replied when asked to spare Lavoisier: “The Republic has no need of scientists or chemists; the course of justice cannot be delayed.”
I never thought I’d see the mob mentality reborn in my own country, much less in the part of that country in which I was born and raised, greater Chicagoland. Yet, freshman State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray (D-Naperville) recent proclamations hearken back to the days when revolutionaries like Coffinhal, Hanriot and Robespierre both played to and fired up the mobs that soaked France in blood.
This is not to suggest that Stava-Murray is going to introduce legislation to authorize the use of the guillotine to suppress registered Republicans and moderate Democrats. I remain convinced she will not do so, at least not anytime soon. But condemning individuals for being members of a particular class? Stava-Murray doesn’t appear to have any strong objection to that mind-set. Like most liberals these days, she’s perfectly fine with you holding any point-of-view you want, so long as it agrees with hers.
She appeals to the same mind set that has long been part of the playbook of would-be revolutionaries outside of Gandhi and King: Intolerance is required to fight intolerance, bigotry to combat bigotry and abuse to defeat abuse. The ruling class in this case is defined by one characteristic, skin color – specifically white skin color. She believes that her native Naperville and the entire Chicago area is dominated by “…white supremacy in an unclad kind of way, without its hood on.”
I will admit that I don’t have a lot of tolerance for views like these, especially when they escape the vocal cords of kids who grew up in the suburbs who have absolutely no clue or personal experience dealing with actual bigotry. My misbegotten youth, spanned the 60s and 70s, was spent in the city and involved the sort of what we now call “diversity” than suburban kids could ever dream of. I know what bigotry looks like representative. You don’t have a clue.
Lumping me and the millions of light-skinned folks living in Chicagoland into one lazy, convenient package wrapped in a bow labeled “racist” may be attractive to Stava-Murray and her followers in the mob, but it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s just another way of perpetuating ignorance and bigotry.
I would urge Stava-Murray and other like-minded individuals to consider the origins of the term “prejudice.” To be prejudiced means that one pre-judges. In the case of one’s interaction with individuals, that pre-judgement is most often based on appearance, including such characteristics as skin color. The proper way to combat prejudice is not to pre-judge supposed opponents based on superficial characteristics. It is rather to make judgements – if they need be made – based on personal interactions that are blind to all superficiality. If Stava-Muray can ever figure out that basic truth, she might just accomplish something after all.