Friday, February 20, 2009

State motto

As many people know, the official motto of Chicago is "Urbs in Horto," Latin for "city in a garden." This seems a tad optimistic, but I guess that's what mottoes are for, to be aspirational rather than descriptive.

Something I didn't know until researching this post is that my town's motto is "Great Service All the Time," which has an uncomfortable corporate feel to it, and doesn't really inspire me at all.

The little-known motto of the state of Illinois is, "State Sovereignty, National Union," representing, I guess, an attempt to play both sides of the whole states' rights issue, but comes off as pretty incoherent.

So I am suggesting a new motto for the state, one that reflects the prevailing sentiment of its leaders. It's especially fitting in these days of Blago and Burris: I've Done Nothing Wrong.

I suppose I could dig out the old Latin textbooks and try to translate that, but I think it's more effective in the vernacular.

More seriously, to watch the pathetic party hack Roland Burris stumble around as if his career has amounted to anything more than being the first African-American this or first African-American that is embarrassing. I understand that political pioneers have to take one of two stances: bravery, in which they stand up to the powers that be and force their way in through the strength of their appeal to actual voters; or inoffensiveness, in which they go along to get along, never ruffling the feathers of the people with real power.

For African-Americans in the age of Obama, the latter type is outdated and unlikely to be of any real assistance to their people (not so by the way, I find any kind of "their" representation to be offensive; with our massive problems at the local, state, and national levels, we need the best on board, not those who feel they have a brief to represent any gender or race or any other grouping). It's time to transcend the existence of these symbolic pawns who fit a certain constituency.

I don't doubt that it still, if we must look at things broken down into groups, is more difficult to be black in this country. But it's a huge leap from that to saying that the junior Senate seat from Illinois "belongs" to a black, as some in the state are pretty much contending...and using that as justification to support the continued existence of Roland "Tombstone" Burris as one of 100.

Whether he can be legally turned out is debatable, and his ego, so much larger than his accomplishments, almost certainly won't allow him to resign, so we will probably be stuck with his small presence among our other lawmakers (and I'm not suggesting that he will be, by any means, the worst of these solons). However, if the people of Illinois somehow reelect this guy in a little over 20 months, added to our two-time support of the mentally challenged Blagojevich, I will be tempted to pull a Baldwin.

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