A standing ovation…for Ed Burke?

The Daily Reader

The city council had a Will Smith moment at last week’s meeting.

I’m referring to that moment at the 2022 Academy Awards when Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith (Will Smith’s wife). And Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Rock in the face.

And then they gave Will Smith the Oscar for Best Actor.

Well, I don’t want you to think they gave it to him for slapping Chris Rock. It wasn’t like that. Just bad timing. The tabulation for the award had, of course, taken place weeks before the ceremony. Had they known Smith was going to slap Rock, they might have given the Oscar to someone else. Just to spare everyone the awkwardness that followed.

Personally, I feel it should have gone to Denzel Washington for Macbeth. Just like it should have gone to Denzel in 2017 for Fences.

But that’s another story . . .

During his acceptance speech, Will Smith got all teary-eyed. Like he was speaking from his heart. Though it’s hard to tell if his tears were real because, well, he is a great actor.

When Smith finished, he got a standing ovation. As if the people in the audience were so moved by his words they forgave him for slapping Rock in the face.

I remember thinking, “Damn, that’s fast. He just slapped Rock and they’ve already forgiven him!” 

In retrospect, I suspect many people probably regret giving Smith that standing ovation. It was more like they just got caught up in the moment.

Which brings me to last week’s council meeting—the last of Mayor Lightfoot’s term and for several alders who were retiring.

It was like high school graduation day in the council, with the alders behaving like teens overwhelmed with weepy-eyed nostalgia. Suddenly, they felt compelled to say wonderful things about each other—even people whose guts they hate.

Eventually, the floor belonged to Alderperson Ed Burke, who’s retiring after over 50 years in the council.

That’s the same Alderperson Burke who is under federal indictment for allegedly using his power as chair of the council finance committee to strong-arm city vendors into hiring his law firm to handle their property tax appeals.

And the same Alderperson Burke who is possibly one of the biggest racists in council history—which is saying something.

Back in the 80s, Burke and former alderperson Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak led a bunch of white aldermen into opposing everything Mayor Harold Washington proposed. The idea was to sabotage city operations so voters would turn against Washington and elect some stooge that Burke and Vrdolyak could control.

Anyway, when Burke finished his farewell speech about his years in office, the alders gave him a standing ovation.

Folks, that’s sickening. A standing O for Ed Burke? What’s next—are they gonna name a school for whomever hit Dr. King in the head with a rock?

Look it up, Chicago. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Chicago and got hit in the head with a rock. It happened in the summer of 1966, when he led open-housing marchers into Marquette Park. 

Some of the alders explained that they couldn’t help themselves. They just got caught up in the moment. You know, like folks at the Academy Awards after Will Smith’s speech. Leaves me wondering . . .

What’s worse? A standing ovation for Will Smith after he slapped Chris Rock, or for Ed Burke after, well, everything? 

It’s not even close. Burke by a mile. 

🎙Listen to The Ben Joravsky Show 🎙

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Issue of
Apr. 20 – May 3, 2023 
Vol. 52, No. 14

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