How Chicago can lose its bid for the 2016 Olympics
ANDREW GREELEY email@example.com
Copyright by The Chicago Sun-Times
April 27, 2007
Like most Chicagoans, I believe that this city should win the big prize in 2009 when they choose an Olympic site. Only Rio can beat Chicago for the beauty of its setting. The trouble with its beaches is that large numbers of teens with automatic weapons are up in the favillas waiting for opportunities to terrorize the city. None of the other contestants has a plan like Chicago's to put all the venues within a fairly compact area. Chicago is a fascinating and variegated city despite the constant putdowns from New York, which blew its opportunity to have the Olympics.
However, there are a number of conditions that have to be met before Chicago can be hopeful about victory.
With advent of new leadership, one hopes that the few rogue cops in the Police Department will be brought under proper control. Any more misbehavior, and the Olympics will be in grave jeopardy. Moreover, the city must convince African Americans that it does not intend to take away Washington Park from them. ''White folk want to take back the South Side," representatives of the Washington Park Forum argued on public radio the other night. The Olympic planners must convince them that there is no such plot.
Chicago officials must deal with those problems. The more serious ones are beyond the city's control. Many people in other countries are convinced that Americans are "cowboys" who swagger around with guns, much like the Earps and the Clantons did in Tombstone in days of yore, or various Italian mobs did during Prohibition under the aegis of Chicagoan Al Capone. The "Outfit" (a k a "The Boys on the West Side") is still alive, but it is elderly, conservative, and generally deplores violence. Yet the United States is a heavily armed country in which crazies can buy guns almost at will and use them for mass murders like the horror at Virginia Tech last week. One more such incident of mayhem, with overweight cops rushing across campus cradling automatic weapons, searching for someone to shoot, and Chicago's Olympic bid, I fear, is sunk on arrival.
Since the National Rifle Association won't let us control the sale of guns, there is always the possibility of another spree of killing. Some NRA enthusiasts suggested -- seriously, I fear -- that the killing wouldn't have happened if some of the endangered students in the classrooms had their own guns to pull out and shoot back! Tombstone seems to be their idea of an appropriate social order.
The most important condition for a successful Chicago bid, however, is that the new president, whoever he or she may be, will present an image of the United States not as the only superpower in the world (a pretty weak superpower just now!), but as the sensitive and intelligent leader of the free world that it was in the time of the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Clinton administrations.
The president of the United States must show that he realizes he's the leader of the Free World and not the cowboy-in-chief of the only superpower. While we were grieving for the dead in Blacksburg, in a single day almost 200 people died in one car-bomb explosion. A distraught man shouted at the camera, "The Americans did this!"
America bungled into an unjust war and was incompetent in its attempts to recreate order. Still is, in fact. If the new president seems to the rest of the world to be one more cowboy-in-chief, Chicago can forget about the Olympics, and the United States about much more than that.