It might seem crazy to believe Chicago can set an example for the rest of the nation on how to heal the divisions that only figure to deepen after the presumptive election of Joe Biden as our next president.
Playing the role of gracious victors really isn’t our style.
As soon as the news broke Saturday morning, my longtime friend and Tribune colleague Mike Downey posted a timeless South Side chant on his Facebook page:
“Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye,” Downey wrote.
Nancy Faust, the Comiskey Park organist who helped make that 1970s rock song famous, made a video of herself playing the tune and tweeted it at President Donald Trump.
Taunting the opposition is second nature for Chicagoans, whether it was Chicago White Sox fans waving bye to a reliever being removed from a game or Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders after hitting a barrage of 3-pointers against the Portland Trailblazers in the 1992 NBA Finals.
William “Refrigerator" Perry would have been just another defensive lineman if not for coach Mike Ditka using him as a running back in a 1985 win over the Green Bay Packers, just to score a touchdown and shove it in their faces.
We like winning here and we don’t mind letting everyone know when we’re in a zone.
City of Big Shoulders?
Sure, but it’s also the City of Big Bat Flips, whether it’s Tim Anderson provoking the Kansas City Royals or Willson Contreras giving it to the Sox.
So if a progressive city that’s bluer than a pair of unwashed jeans wants to gloat over a long-awaited win over the much-hated opponent, there’s not much Trumpers or anyone can do about it.
I’m no exception. When I heard multiple news organizations had declared Biden the winner, I retweeted “Family Guy” writer Alec Sulkin, who tweeted a video of former Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson shouting: “HE GONE!!!!”
My apologies, but if the shoe were on the other foot, there’s little doubt Trump supporters in Chicago would be doing likewise. That’s the way the world is, and there’s no going back.
But according to election results, only 16.7% of citywide voters cast a ballot for Trump, so there’s not many people in Chicago to taunt even if you wanted to get in their face. We only can turn to Facebook and Twitter to rub it in — or take a road trip to Indiana.
Once the celebrating ends, however, it will be time to start the healing process, which Biden already has said would be a priority in his administration. It sounds like mission impossible, especially if Trump doesn’t concede he lost, further escalating the animosity between the sides.
For the sake of argument, though, let’s assume we get to a point at which Trump shows some class. It’s possible. Even goons shake hands after the end of the Stanley Cup Final. If that happens, it’s then incumbent on all of us to live together in harmony for the sake of a country we all love, even if we don’t really get along and probably never will.
Chicago, believe it or not, can lead the way. We all know how this stuff works.
Cubs and Sox fans have coexisted since 1900 in spite of a mutual dislike that makes the hate between Biden and Trump supporters seem tepid by comparison.
We’ve held City Series games on both sides of town since 1997 without any major incident. There have been a few fist fights here and there, naturally, including the famous A.J. Pierzynski-Michael Barrett brawl in 2006, but no fatalities that I’m aware of.
For a Civil War, it mostly has been civil.
I’m not suggesting Cubs and Sox fans will ever like each other, but they can sit side by side in the same ballpark and maybe have adjoining cubicles in the same office without resorting to violence or name-calling. Their differences never will be resolved, but there’s more to life than baseball and politics, so why can’t we all just get along?
One of my favorite examples of healing involved an old friend, Terry Armour, the late Tribune columnist and radio host of the “Stan & Terry Show” on WCKG-FM 105.9. During a heated Cubs-Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field, a Cubs fan used a racial slur after security asked his group to leave for using profanities.
Armour, who was Black, followed the group into the Stadium Club, and a brawl ensued, leading to their arrests. After Armour died in December 2007 I mentioned his fight with a “foul-mouthed Cubs fan” in a remembrance in the Chicago Tribune. That fan later sent me an email apologizing for his “immature” behavior and revealing Armour not only had paid the Sox both of their shares for the damages but joked about the fan’s bad mug shot while they were together six hours in the lockup.
The Black guy and the white guy who made a racist comment laughed about their brawl, then shared a cab home and kept in touch.
“He took a negative situation and made it a positive one,” the Cubs fan wrote. “It sounds like he could’ve done that in any situation.”
Instead of holding a grudge, Armour made the guy laugh. That wasn’t surprising to any of his friends. “That’s Terry,” we all said.
Unfortunately we don’t all share Armour’s capacity to forgive and forget. It’s hard for many of us not to hold a grudge against Trump for some of the things he has done and for the things he continues to do.
It will never fade, honestly, nor should it. This figurative bat flip feels good.
But can we continue to dislike and taunt his supporters and still move forward as a country? Should we at least make an attempt to get along, or is that impossible?
My guess is we’ll be singing “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” for quite a while.
How much longer really depends on him.
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