'White supremacist' as conversation starter

Opinion: Dan Haley

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

How we talk to each other is important. And how we talk to each other pretty much determines if we listen.

This has all been on display in Oak Park over the past Thanksgiving week on social media, in the pages of the Journal and on our comment board at OakPark.com.

I've got a role in this which I want to acknowledge and a point of view that I want to share and leave open for response.

It started with a news article, pretty run-of-the-mill — who is running for re-election, who is not — that I asked our village hall reporter Stacey Sheridan to report out.

Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb had not yet announced if he was running for a third term. And in our article he still did not announce. Trustee Dan Moroney was the last of the current trustees whose term ends next April to not declare. In our article he said his decision was overdue and would come soon.

No big news. The sort of story that moves things along a little bit.

The story was first posted online and on Facebook and last Wednesday made our print edition.

It was on our Facebook page where a local person posted a comment calling Moroney a white supremacist. That was about the gist of the comment. Not much context. No case made to prove the point. The commenter was a local Muslim woman.

The comment was called to my attention by Matt Baron, an OPRF board member and someone I've known a long time, either in an email or a text. I was busy doing other things and it took me several hours to really take a look. At that point I asked a colleague to take the comment down. Completely my decision.

We take comments down. Not often but it happens. I'm comfortable that this is part of our job to monitor our platforms and remove comments that are defamatory or otherwise out of bounds. Certainly will acknowledge that there is a subjective aspect to those sincere judgments.

Baron then sent the Journal a letter to the editor which ran in print last week. The letter should not have run for the same reason the comment, in my opinion, needed to come down. There was wording in the letter related to "see something, say something," duffle bags being left in public places that was code for terrorism. It should have jumped out at us as inappropriate. It didn't. That is on us. We need to do better.

Since all this began, Dan Moroney has announced that he is running for village president. Sheridan reported that story online Sunday afternoon.

It sent me back to our archives from a year ago when Moroney was in the news — locally and well beyond — for appearing on a right-wing local radio talk show. It followed a controversy at the board table when Trustee Susan Buchanan was making an ardent point and in that moment fully lost her temper and said several things she rightly later regretted about her board colleagues.

Moroney went on Dan Proft's talk show and made things a lot worse. He rightly got lacerated on social media, in citizen comments at the next board meeting and, by me, in this column.

Looking for cover, Moroney said that he and Buchanan had sat down privately to "discuss what has transpired and recognizing what unites us, rather than what divides us."

Now there is the ultimate political statement.

And here was my response in that 14-month-old column:


"Sure there is a lot that unites us. The path forward, though, is in focusing in productive ways on what divides us. Because what divides us is foundational and it needs to get sincerely and imperfectly sorted out. It is about racism, it is about sexism, it is about systems of oppression, it is about an inability or unwillingness to listen. It is about control. 

"It is always about control."

My point a year ago is that talking about race and equity, if you're doing it right, is painful, hard, and can easily go awry. So choose words carefully. Be articulate. Go deeper. 

These are not things social media does well. And so, in my view, it makes real, necessary conversation harder.

As Oak Park begins a campaign for village president, equity has to be top of mind. As I've said 10 times, this village government has failed on equity. And debating Dan Moroney's pretty much right-out-in-the-open views on race, equity and governance is entirely fair and necessary.

So all that said, I was surprised as I reread that column to find this line:

"Dan Proft is a right-wing conspiracy hack. He hosts a low-rated Chicago radio talk show that speaks mainly to white supremacy."

I think that is accurate. I did not personally call Proft a white supremacist. It was in the context of a 600-word column. 

I know white supremacy is real. It permeates our institutions and it permeates us as individual white people. But to me it still feels unproductive to just hurl the term "white supremacist" at someone as a pejorative label.

I think I'm right. Or it could just be another blind spot in a lifetime of blind spots that I'm working on. Some of you, I'm sure, will have opinions.

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and RiverForest.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

60 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Alice Caputo  

Posted: December 9th, 2020 8:55 AM

This is a world where being called a white supremist or (white) racist is not an insult, defunding the police doesn't mean defunding the police but unintentionally addressing someone by the wrong pronoun by assuming their birth gender is an unforgiveable offense.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: December 9th, 2020 8:22 AM

We're not so far away from that, are we, Bruce? Here's what just galls me- Dan and Ken APOLOGIZED. They responded and acknowledged that their critics were right and they were insensitive, etc. They took steps to correct it. But that's not enough with some self-righteous people, because with those people, their sense of outrage and grievance is all that matters.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 8th, 2020 10:59 PM

"As Oak Park begins a campaign for village president, equity has to be top of mind." Dan Haley Only one website mentions it cateforoakpark.org danmoroney.com www.simoneboutet.com VoteVicki.org

Bruce Kline  

Posted: December 8th, 2020 9:37 PM

William. I agree. But, wouldn't a nicely crafted wooden stocks, say in our central square - Scoville Park - be a better idea than merely throwing the offenders out in the streets? Hey, maybe even consider an old fashioned dunking chair when the weather warms up ... especially during A Day in Our Village. Many possibilities here far better than a mere crude heave ho onto the street. Don't you think?

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: December 8th, 2020 6:51 PM

"...voluntary resignations of those in question from the Wednesday Journal? Couple questions, Ms. Miyata. Why voluntary? First, in order to really express your outrage, shouldn't they be dragged out into the cold, kicking and screaming and thrown in the street. And, second, I didn't get the memo, so humor me. When did you start speaking on behalf of all White Oak Parkers?

Sarah Miyata  

Posted: December 8th, 2020 6:14 PM

We, white Oak Parkers, pride ourselves on being seemingly progressive, tolerant, accepting, and inclusive but when someone from a supposed lower caste "steps out of line", our primitive impulses kick in to put them back in their place whether that be by writing an OpEd, appearing on a controversial radio show, or threatening them on social media. When issues knock on our own front door or affect us or someone we know/love, then all gloves are off- as evidenced in this case of a privileged white man writing an OpEd (and successfully getting it published), privileged white men men allowing it's publication thereby initially shaping the narrative, some white people threatening a muslim who is also a woman, and another privileged white man at the center of it all not saying a word. This abhorrent mess reeks white privilege and until there are voluntary resignations of those in question from the Wednesday Journal, D200 school board, and a withdrawal from the upcoming local election, then there has been no meaningful introspection that will bring about impactful and desperately needed change. None of these people should be holding the powerful positions they have or aspire too and we Oak Parkers should not allow it.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: December 7th, 2020 11:40 AM

Right. The Babe was such a respected social observer.. Can't come up with a coherent reply, can you, Ramona?

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 7th, 2020 11:20 AM

Kline Maureen Thank you very much for letting me know that progress is being made. The worst part of being called a White Supremacist is to have my family history go back to the Civil War, and fight to end slavery. Then to have a bunch of White people hope on to a group who want to call me a White Supremacist just because of the color of my skin. We have a long history of serving this Country, and it insults my integrity when I am told I am a White Supremacist. The group have no idea. I do not lump a race together when a person's race commits a violent act. I have been an equal opportunity victim of a lot of things growing up in a diverse mix of people. So that hope of Santa Claus may help people who want to call me, a White Supremacist. Dictionary definition is, "a person who believes that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other racial and ethnic groups, in particular black or Jewish people." Time for the radical thinking to learn to stop changing definition of a meaning

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: December 7th, 2020 10:10 AM

@ Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Smith: ""The loudest boos always come from the cheapest seats" Babe Ruth

Kline Maureen  

Posted: December 7th, 2020 10:09 AM

@Bill Maxwell, actually, to your earlier comment about Santa Claus, my kids on at least 2 occasions saw an African-American Santa. Once was at the now defunct Forest Park Mall. They were pretty young - perhaps 1, 3 and 5 - and did not even notice that he was black. Perhaps because he still had the big white beard! Another time was at a special event holiday party, perhaps at the zoo or somewhere - they were a little older and by that point they knew they were not seeing THE real Santa but one of his helpers. Yeah, neither here nor there, but there is some diversity in the Santa Claus ranks.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 6th, 2020 7:36 PM

Dave Slade actually since all White people are White Supremacist, I have paying attention and notice the little things. I do not think censorship would be necessary and the group bringing awareness does not offer any ideas, so at least we can notice were generations before had a one size fits all type of thinking because it may have been that one size did fit all that were in the majority at the time. The good thing is people have moved past a lot of it and now movies, television, radio do have a percentage of more Black's. I was talking with an Asian actor who felt because of his race he was not receiving main roles, so maybe that will change that races with blend in to this great American mixing pot that needs some stirring once in a while, and maybe the group was just using White supremacist to stir the pot since that is not a true statement

Dave Slade from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2020 5:08 PM

Bill Maxwell -Ohhhkay

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 6th, 2020 3:54 PM

The White Supremacy based only on the person being considered White, goes deeper than I even thought. I had the radio on and the song, "White Christmas" was playing. I am not sure if it was a code word or not, although it includes, "May all your Christmas's be White". Now I grew up in an area that we did not have snow, so if the White is referring to snow, so why is there a song called, "White Christmas", and the conspiracy goes deeper than just a song. Regardless that it did not snow, there is Santa Claus. A jolly older man with a White beard and he is White. As we work to accept all White's are White Supremacist, I think this is worth approaching how we were just taught that Santa Claus is White, and White Christmas does not refer to snow

Jacinda Bauman from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 3:45 PM

Right. Matt Baron wrote the letter. Matt Baron sits on the District 200 school board. Therefore, as far as I know, Matt Baron is an elected official. Serving on the board of an extraordinarily diverse school where he is expected to work toward the interests of every member of that population, including those he would compare to "terrorists." That was the point I was trying to make. And the editors who printed the letter also bear a great deal of responsibility. And, personally, if someone wrote a letter Ike that on my behalf, I know that I would certainly be pretty vocal about saying "Thst guy is not speaking for me, thanks!" Sorry if that wasn't clear.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 3:29 PM

"Those who are most moral are farthest from the problem." What simplistic b.s. Tell that to Gandhi and MLK. They were in the midst of the problems and maintained their morality. Just because you can pull a quote from Google doesn't make it true or applicable. And just because it may apply to some doesn't mean it applies to all.

Mary Jo Erickson from Oak Park   

Posted: December 5th, 2020 3:25 PM

@Jacinda. " ..,a publicly elected figure equating a member of his electorate to a terrorist is racist, Islamophobic, and unethical and there is no defense for it." "... from the fact that a local politician called a Muslim woman a *terrorist* for writing a comment online." Unless my memory fails me, Matt Baron wrote the letter that allegedly called the "Muslim woman" a terrorist. Mr. Moroney did not write the letter nor has he commented on it to the best of my knowledge. What point are you attempting to make?

Jacinda Bauman from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 1:00 PM

No one said Saul Alinsky isn't relevant to various discussions, except for perhaps the 50 years worth of community organizers who have come since. Saul Alinsky was admired until he revealed his own racism and then he was co-opted. But you're still missing the point. It doesn't matter what he or Machiavelli would or would not do or say here. Anyone with a *pulse* in 2020 should understand that a publicly elected figure equating a member of his electorate to a terrorist is racist, Islamophobic, and unethical and there is no defense for it. This shouldn't even be considered a moralistic view, it should be common decency. What is the matter with people? We wouldn't let children do it in a schoolyard without punishment. But you can go ahead and keep quoting Alinsky at me 'til the cows come home. I'm certain it will have some relevancy to someone somewhere about something not this.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 9:45 AM

Jacinda Bauman: game, set, match. Her opponent: still playing on an empty court.

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 1:05 AM

I would argue Saul Alinsky is just as relevant today as he was in the 1940's and equally as relevant as "The Prince" by Machiavelli. I do agree with the rest of your post Ms. Bauman and our freedom of speech comes with consequences. If one isn't prepared for them, perhaps one should think twice about exercising that right. Hopefully, lesson learned.

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 12:50 AM

"Those who are most moral are farthest from the problem." Saul Alinsky I think this one would be a good descriptor of Ms. Bauman.

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 12:47 AM

"In the beginning the organizer's first job is to create the issues or problems." Saul Alinsky

Jacinda Bauman from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2020 12:11 AM

Those have to be THE MOST decontextualized Saul Alinsky quotes I have ever seen used by a conservative and The Tea Party tried it, so good show! But I'd say this progressive community has quite found their common enemy with whom to have a conflict, so Alinsky would probably say they are well on their way! But as all of those ideas are at least 50 years old, I'm sure there are better political theorists to point to at the moment. However, I will say that to do so would be a huge, ridiculously off-topic deflection from the fact that a local politician called a Muslim woman a *terrorist* for writing a comment online. It doesn't take a progressive leader or political theorist - or any leader or political theorist - to understand that such a statement is racist, Islamophobic, and potentially an incitement to violence and needs to be called out. Full stop. How is this even being "debated?" Why are people decontextualizing long dead progressive activists in response or discussing the educational system post-Reagan? None of that immediately has to do with the fact that a public figure can't just point at a citizen and say "terrorist" any more than I can yell "fire!" in a crowded theater. This is ridiculous. And it has nothing to do with free speech. He can say what he wants, but not where he wants and certainly not without consequences. All of the people involved with this egregious incident need to apologize for real and make it right as soon as possible. It's just that simple.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 4th, 2020 11:53 AM

Jeffrey Smith Reagan had to cut social programs to lower government spending and then cut taxes to the wealthy so some how that would trickle down to the rest of the Country. Why with everything removed, no one has mentioned that the promoting picture of Moroney has not moved down in position is what people are not aware of although Mr. Haley does mention he can even miss things, too

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: December 4th, 2020 9:23 AM

This comment thread is like simultaneously listening to the soundtracks of The Snake Pit (1948), Bedlam (1946), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and every other movie ever set in a madhouse. It is, however, a testament to the collapse of public education since Reagan took office.

Katie Trathen from Oak Park  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 11:48 PM

Jennifer Malone pretty much said it all, but I wanted to add: Dan - you censored a Muslim woman who is a private citizen and then proceeded to provide a public platform to a white male elected official, who likened the Iraqi woman's comment to terrorism. The impact of your decisions is more important than your intention. You owe the Muslim woman a real, straightforward, humble apology and a commitment to do better. Matt Baron and Dan Moroney also owe her the same. The last 3 paragraphs of your article here are so wishwashy and casual. It feels like you wrote this article as clickbait, or perhaps to encourage the community to come in the comments and... do what? Defend you? Defend Matt and Dan? Provide you with free education about systemic racism and white supremacy? When you wrote and published this, did it weigh on you at all that our Muslim neighbor and her family is now receiving death threats? Is this a PR stunt for Dan and Matt? A way for you to increase readership? Be brave and do whatever it takes to make this right.

Kitty Conklin  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 5:11 PM

Laurette, don't rely on any one source for info about your local elected officials. Make time and meet them. Build relationships. Yes, it takes energy to do so, but everyone that I approached over 2.5 yrs in OP was happy to meet up (except for 1). Having an actual connection showed me just how much I have in common with many, many new people. Relationships are key.

Heather Ash from Oak Park  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 2:23 PM

I don't buy this apology. Mr. Haley has a history of poor editorial decisions that prove hurtful and harmful -- I'm thinking specifically of the shameful reporting of a local woman's disappearance a few years back. He'd rather ask forgiveness than permission, and in the meantime -- wow, look at all those website clicks! If he genuinely can't see the difference, he needs to hand over the Wednesday Journal decision-making to others who show better judgment when it comes to serving the community.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 1:45 PM

Credit where credit is due: when Ramona is right, she's right. Especially the first and last posts.

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 1:17 PM

"Parts of the far left have gone so far in the political circle that they are now all but indistinguishable from the extreme right." Saul Alinksy

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 1:15 PM

"We are not here concerned with people who profess the democratic faith but yearn for the dark security of dependency where they can be spared the burden of decisions. Reluctant to grow up, or incapable of doing so, they want to remain children and be cared for by others. Those who can, should be encouraged to grow; for the others, the fault lies not in the system but in themselves." Saul Alinsky

Lopez Ramona  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 1:13 PM

"The standards of judgement must be rooted in the whys and wherefores of life as it is lived, the world as it is, not our wished-for fantasy of the world as it should be." Saul Alinksy

Laurette Stefani Anderson from Oak Park  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 10:59 AM

Apologies are difficult, but still need to be made, and this is a weak attempt. I can't apologize for you, but I can for myself. I'm sorry that I don't follow your paper, but need to start paying attention more so I can see the candidates' and journalists' true colors. I'm sorry that I've allowed myself to be too "busy" with my own family to not take the time to act when I hear or see something hurtful to those who are marginalized. I'm sorry that I've valued being polite over speaking up when it's been necessary on social media or in familial and social circles. I'm sorry that I thought Oak Park was more progressive than it is, and that I could rest in my privileged little village.

Andrea Santiviago BŠez Shindeldecker from Oak Park  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 7:04 AM

Well said, Jennifer Malone! This was a weak, non-apology type of mea culpa. Calling out white supremacy is an opportunity for growth. Not a slur. And until those unwilling to examine their own white supremacy stop being offended by it, we are going to keep having this conversation. You admit to failing to put much thought into eliminating that comment, other than it simply didn't provide you enough evidence not to take it down. And yet. And yet. When a board member of the OPRF BOE gets up and conjures up rhetoric used from 9/11 against a Muslim member of our community displays the very worst of us, that gets published for a week. The worst of our village. And maybe some folks needed to see it to be reminded of what we do and do NOT want to represent us anymore. So maybe you are only sorry not sorry for your lapse in judgment. Maybe we'll be sorry not sorry for voting in a new village board and president that really reflects our values and telling people like Matt Baron or Dan Maroney that they do NOT speak for us. And maybe this galvanized a few more people. I'm am ONLY sorry it came at the expense of a community member's sense of safety.

Heather McCammond-watts  

Posted: December 3rd, 2020 1:01 AM

BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, People of Color. White Supremacy = the assumption that white culture, white opinions, white leaders, white success and power should dominate our society and are superior. It is the water we are all swimming in, and we barely even recognize it. It is held up as the "ideal" and the "default" viewpoint. Our history, society, and politics are shaped by it still. Simple example: on a 2nd grade test, a black child is asked to identify which is the "shop" with a picture of a police station, a hairdresser, and a toy store. The child picks the hairdresser and it is marked wrong. Why? In black communities, hair salons are often referred to as beauty shops, but the white people who wrote the test made a different assumption and were demonstrating their bias and preference for the "proper" (white) answer (the toy store). Because white people control the writing of the test, we control the answers to ensure our benefit. That is insidious white supremacy at work. Even preschoolers demonstrate implicit bias towards whiteness because that is what we teach them. https://www.edutopia.org/article/bias-starts-early-preschool-can-be-unlearned

Heather McCammond-watts  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 11:04 PM

Please read this for a better and more nuanced understanding of white supremacy. Your definition is way too narrow. We white folks are all complicit in racism and we need to start feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable in questioning our own power, our blind spots and assumptions, and yes, our inherent system of white supremacy that we are all born into. Being white means we need to question ourselves, and listen to BIPOC and their experiences more deeply. Why is being called a white supremacist so much worse (for white people) than the dehumanizing acts of white supremacy itself? Listen. Listen. Learn. Grow. https://www.yesmagazine.org/democracy/2017/06/30/no-i-wont-stop-saying-white-supremacy/

Richard Gorman  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 9:15 PM

Wow, reading these comments is very disturbing on two levels. I didn't have the opportunity, if I can now call it that, to read a "local person" comment regarding an individual's "white supremacy" and that individual's reply via the WSJ. Perhaps there is a downside to removing the record of spoken or written words. I would like to better understand the context of the conflict. What really concerns me is how the comments made here are even possible in Oak Park. In reading the posts, clearly Oak Park is a racist and oppressive community. Yet, in my 30 years in the village there has been a relentless pursuit of diversity, racial justice, inclusivity, and of late- equity...how can this be? This is a massive failure of policy and action here in the village.

Maura O'Hara  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 9:00 PM

I'm sorry, Bill Maxwell, I didn't realize that you were the one who decides how to correct this wrong. Please note that many of us will not be satisfied by what YOU think is fair in this situation. Thanks for playing!

Jen Purrenhage  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 8:37 PM

" I think that is accurate. I did not personally call Proft a white supremacist. It was in the context of a 600-word column." Dan, you got so close and then you backpedaled like crazy here. You know how to name white supremacy when you see it. Be the change you want to see. Help this village help ourselves do better. Sheesh, this is the easy stuff. You could start with some investigative reporting on Dan Proft. Is Proft (who is described as a "political operative") supporting Moroney's candidacy? I would sincerely like to know. I bet other readers would too.

Maura O'Hara  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 8:32 PM

I think the original conversation should be printed in full so that we, the reader, can determine for ourselves whether Matt Barron's Op Ed accurately reflected the content. Barron had his say, why shouldn't we see what was ACTUALLY said?

Liz Thompson  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 8:10 PM

Yes, Dan. It IS about control. Control that white men exert over most facets of life. Including who gets published (and who doesn't) in the Wednesday Journal. A Muslim woman who calls out Dan Moroney as a white supremacist gets her comments pulled. Yet you acknowledge that Moroney appeared on a radio show that caters to white supremacists at time of great racial division. I acknowledge your distinction. And, though, I believe it's a distinction without a difference. "Choose carefully. Go deeper." I'd strongly urge you, Dan, to start choosing more carefully. And start going deeper. Until you're able to discern the blatant anti Muslim rhetoric that ran like a flashing neon thread throughout Matt Baron's piece. Before you publish it.

ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 7:57 PM

Can you please delete my comments? I see the OP is now removed and my comments seem extra with the context.

Maura O'Hara  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 7:56 PM

In this example, the White male was clearly afforded more status than the Muslim woman. HIS opinion was allowed to be fully vetted while HER opinion what shut down immediately because it was deemed offensive by the white men who decide which voices will be heard. OURWorldinData says "To be considered an act of terrorism, an action must be violent, or threaten violence. As such, political dissent, activism, and nonviolent resistance do not constitute terrorism. There are, however, many instances around the world of authorities restricting individuals' freedom of expression under the pretext of counter-terrorism measures. Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, publish reports on such cases of censorship."

Asra Syed  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 7:40 PM

Maura O'Hara, they seem to have removed Barron's letter within the last half hour. I'm glad they finally did, but the damage has already been done. They took down the Muslim female's comment that same day, but it took them over a week to remove the white male's bigotry. It even took 10 hours after writing this column, where the editor admits they were wrong to publish the hateful, incendiary letter. I'm glad they finally took it down, but I'd really like to know their decision process.

Maura O'Hara  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 7:31 PM

The Wednesday Journal immediately removed the "whyte supremacist" comment as offensive but published Matt's 754 word response "When You See Something, Will You Say Something?" Matt implied that a woman who fled a terrorist country could be a "terrorist". Let's review: the brown woman's offensive comment is immediately removed while the white man's offensive tirade is edited and published as an Op Ed. Some might call this entire episode an example of a system of white privilege/white supremacy. Choose whichever term causes you to examine the world in which we live.

Asra Syed  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 7:22 PM

Thank you for removing Matt Baron's letter to the editor from your website. (and for removing inappropriate comments here). Better late than never! It'd be nice if you addressed why you eventually took his letter down too, in addition to addressing why you deleted the woman's comment. Typically media outlets mention when they make such impactful changes. I hope to hear about your decision-making process for this.

Jennifer Malone from Oak Park  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 4:55 PM

It boils down to this: being called a "white supremacist" is not oppression. It is not a racial slur. And yet you deleted the comment from Facebook because another white man in a position of power asked you to. And then you offered that same man a wider audience to malign and attack the woman who made the comment. A community member who is a person of color and a religious minority. And that man used the exact words and stereotypes that would trigger any other racist to align against her. Who titles letters to the editor? Are they self-titled or does a staff member write headlines? Because the headline itself is deeply problematic" "If You See Something, Will You Say Something?" - the words used to remind us to be vigilant against terrorism (specifically Islamic) in the wake of 9/11. Those are the words you click on to read a letter about a Muslim woman committing "emotional and psychological violence" and an act of "terrorism" because she spoke words that are difficult to hear if you are white and think you're safe from being called out for racism. On Facebook. And your defense is to say, "my bad but..." and double down on the notion that the words, "white supremacist" are still the threat here? And you "know" that white supremacy is real and institutionalized and you see OTHERS in power missing opportunities to promote equity and have called it out "ten times"? You make a point of saying the words "white supremacist" are "unproductive". And words should be "chosen carefully". However, there was nothing productive or careful about Mr Baron's letter or your decision to print it. I can tell you that few individuals do more productive work in the realm of "equity" and promoting social justice than the woman you think should "go deeper". I very much suggest that you heed your own words and go deeper yourself. Your Community needs you to stand up. We need more than another person with an easily-centered voice telling us to speak "carefully" and be "articulate".

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 4:44 PM

Krasinsky, if I worried about every time some one ripped into me on line, I wouldn't leave the house- present circumstances aside. It's criticism, not a physical assault. Words, not acts. You just suggested I have no imagination, but see, I don't care what you think, because you're no idea what's in my imagination. Too many people here and elsewhere in the internet ether make way more of criticisms and unpleasant phrasing that it merits. "Sticks and stones," folks. Get over it.

Asra Syed  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 4:20 PM

You acknowledge here that Baron's "letter should not have run for the same reason the comment, in my opinion, needed to come down." If that's the case, why is Baron's letter still up on your website? You chose to take down the marginalized female's comment but not the white, male public figure's column that you admit you shouldn't have published. Your column here is a poor excuse for an apology for your mistakes, especially if you're not taking action to rectify your poor choice in publishing Baron's letter. Your column isn't about dialog on equity and civility, but merely a medium to push your hypocritical double-standards and justify faulty logic.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 4:18 PM

Tom MacMillan it does not just stop at right wing or left wing. There is the extreme left wing and right wing. What continues to happen is all of this is mixed in a pot and it is boiling over and no one wants to stand up and say enough. Get along with people you like. The power structure of blaming White's is wrong. Where is my White power and why am I not the Chicago Mayor or the President of the United State's, because I am White. I am missing out on all of my Whiteness to benefit me. If there is a White benefit let me know where I can find it. I recall reading a Mad Magazine decades ago. It was a Black man who was saying he now has a home, a car, along with everything else a White an has. He adds in, he also has the bill's. Simple and humorous and demonstrates we really do struggle with daily life challenges. If someone wants to make a difference, find out why there are poor Black neighborhoods that are not offering a way out. Ask your politicians why they have not brought in businesses to offer people work so they can dig their way out of a low income life. It can not all be done with education until you start get out of a continual line of poverty that drives gangs, drugs, killings and spill over crime. Is the blaming of White people really going to make the change especially when it is so ingrained in Oak Park, and I think the answer is no. People in Oak Park, would like change, although know where the change needs to happen. If Oak Park was surrounding by all towns with a higher level income, I do not think any of this would be discussed. So if you want to really make a change to improve the lives of people, ask the Mayor of Chicago, which would be a good place to start with change. Build neighborhoods and stop the blaming. It goes no where. I learned this at a point in my life, and it worked. We all need to be on the same playing field before we can improve our skills through education

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 3:58 PM

it should also feel unproductive to just hurl the term "right wing" as a pejorative label, unless "left wing" is equally bad. A non-profit paper should realize it has customers from both wings of the same bird

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 3:58 PM

ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson judging some one because of their race is in all races. So now that I think the entire country is aware that there is a race problem, and I have not read one thing you have posted that brings races. You do know that even the same White race divides itself, so I would have to think that even the Black race, Asian race, American Indian race, all divide by things as income, religion, etc.. So if you think you can just put blankets of an entire race, that is known as the White race, you are going in the wrong direction. There is no White supreme race. We don't like a lot of our own so called race, since the White race is really based on someone who looks similar to another person, and that would be racist in my opinion. The answers are deeper then the level your are working on, and most other people, too. I think if you met me, you would immediately recognize me as a White person before you even said hello. That is profiling and you will not every get rid of it, so why profile an entire so called race of Whites, because we don't even like each other as an entire race, so I know that has to be true with every other race. I have met people from Africa, both Black and White. It is as different as meeting a person from France. The difference I have noticed with Europeans is that they seem to be more open to knowing people for their cultures, not what they look like. I was fortunate. I was raised in a multi cultural environment with many religions. No one cared. They got along with each other or they did not. It never was race that separated anyone

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 3:47 PM

Kelly Darin, have you even noticed a post on the comment section of some one saying call a number if you want to get your marriage back together or some potion that will cure what ails you, because that is spam and if you copy the link and send it to the editor, he will remove it. You can not expect an editor and a small team of people to be spending day and night monitoring each thing that is posted. It was wrong of the woman to post that. If she wanted to make a comment, that would resonate with her belief, then let her know to write an Opinion piece. The only faults here in my opinion is how it was timed. That could be a coincidence although to have the release of Moroney running as Village President on a Sunday, is not common practice for the W.J., and that is why I question the timing line. We have not heard a word from the woman or Moroney although everyone is coming to the defense of both sides. Matt is to smart to have made a reckless Opinion and those Opinion pieces get read before being released so there is no excuse and people will decide if they want to continue subscriptions or online support. They made a big mistake to let out an Opinion piece full of key words from Matt, that was nothing more then something to start the pot stirring so 5 days later, Moroney could announce his campaign and amazingly choose right over wrong. That gives the opinion of a strong character of a person although the planning took time so the decisions was made weeks ago

ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 3:19 PM

Lastly, Dan. You write, "But to me it still feels unproductive to just hurl the term "white supremacist" at someone as a pejorative label." THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR OTHER WHITE PEOPLE IN POSITIONS OF POWER! Can't you see that? if you "know White supremacy is real and permeates our institutions and individuals" how could you allow this to happen? You just defined white supremacy as an institution, individual, and power, whilst publishing a piece that called a community member a terrorist! There are two sides: anti-racist or people who participate, benefit, and ignore racism (racists). Choose a side.

Kelly Darin  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 3:16 PM

So someone you know personally asked you to take down a comment and you did so. That same person then wrote a "letter to the editor" and asked it to be published and you did so. I appreciate the recognition here that it should not have been published, but harm has been done. That should have been noted immediately. How anyone could have read that letter without reacting to the blatant racism is beyond me. A Muslim woman in our community has been attacked and called a terrorist all because someone's feelings were hurt by her opinion. Calling a Muslim person a terrorist and referencing bags left behind, etc put her and her family at risk. Not only that, but she is a huge part of our community. She is the first to fund raise when there is a need, speak up for others who are marginalized, and is constantly looking for ways to help. I don't think her character needs to be defended, for the record, but those are important things to note. Where is the editing so desperately needed here? Where is the protection of our citizens? This is negligent at best, purposefully damaging at worst and I'm not yet sure where that line is. Was an apology made directly? Are there new policies in place to ensure that this doesn't continue to happen? Where is the real change?

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 3:09 PM

I think the editor explains very well the process. Also explains they need to do better. The need to do better is a problem because if people do not recognize the basic things that are right or wrong, then doing better is not going to be easy. It was wrong for the woman to call Moroney a supreme racist and was taken down off facebook. If taking it down then offended the woman and others, then it is time that the woman does have her opinion piece and explain why she wrote what she did. Sure, it may be that hard discussion, although if Matt was allowed to use a use of key words, and then what I would think everyone thought was intimidation that kept Moroney from not announcing his re-election, turned out to not be true. He announced his run for Village President and already had a website and video that took time to create. So the timing is not correct if he really was intimidated. That would mean the Opinion piece Matt wrote was not the real feelings of Moroney feeling intimidated. The article was the start to bring attention to Moroney and his new role as a candidate for Village President. Now lets have the woman offer her Opinion piece. Thank goodness I have known many people from different Countries in the Middle East over 40 years ago. If you do not experience cultures you only guess and try and do better. I would rather experience and take the guessing out of trying to do better since that will never work. Taking down the offensive name calling was the right thing to do. Proof is what you need when you call someone a name, although in social media, that is not an arena that requires proof. I want proof and all I have is what appears to be a very well timed piece from Matt, followed up with a picture on a Sunday that Moroney is running for Village President. I do not expect anyone to process it because that requires a mind that takes in what is apparent based from facts until otherwise changed. Good luck reading hateful Opinion pieces before releasing them

ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 2:57 PM

Dan, I am so angry I can barely write this. Before you denounce something, you should define it. Can you define White Supremacy? I doubt it, because you would know, publishing this is an act of racism and upholding White Supremacy. As a keeper of power, the editor of this paper, you have a responsibility to be anti-racist. You failed to be an ally to BIPOC and instead, by printing this hurtful message, are a full participant in the actions of White Supremacy. Further, this piece is a half-ass attempt to apologize and we, folks fighting actively to be anti-racist, deserve better. If we ever want to end racism in this country, in this community, it can only happen when White men with power, like you, Dan, own their racism and their mistakes. And make amends. This piece is not nearly enough. If you want to truly be anti-racist, you need to do better and work harder. This "apology" is half-assed, and insulting to those of putting in the work to stop racism. Your actions, and, your inactions, were racist. Own your racism, so we can move forward with you as an ally. If are not willing to own when you are racist, please stop pretending to care about racial equity. You don't get a "get out of being a racist" pass, because you "say" you are anti-racist in community meetings. At least you don't get a pass from this Black woman. How we talk to each other is significantly less important than how we treat each other. You put her and her family in harm. White racists are sending her hate mail and treating her family. Because she said White Supremacy? Can you define White Supremacy? Or did you take it down because it sounds mean? Anti-racist work is about changing systems and getting justice and equity. Somehow White men have high-jacked the conversation to equate someone actually experience racist actions (publishing a piece calling someone a terrorist) with someone getting their feeling hurt by a name. Dan, you need to do more anti-racist education.

Mark Geraci  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 2:01 PM

You, indeed, missed the point. Mr. Baron's opinion piece was not just code for calling someone a terrorist; he included a definition of terrorism and used words like duffel bag, intimidation squad, and peril. It was harmful to the original commenter. White supremacy/white immunity is on all of us white folks due to the system created in this country that oppresses people of color (used in its broadest sense here). You begin to recognize your fault in publishing the opinion then dissolve into further white fragility. Any conversation of racial justice is difficult. When confronted with our whiteness we should stand back and reflect on our part in the issue before responding. Mr. Baron's opinion piece should be taken down from the website and Facebook page.

Steve Krasinsky  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 1:29 PM

@Junior, calling a Muslim family terrorists is not just criticism. If you had any imagination and ability to put yourself in their place, you might be able to see that.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 1:22 PM

People are really too sensitive to criticism. Amplifying hate? Give me a break. It's merely one person's opinion. There was no threat here, just some harsh words. If this sort of fainting couch sensitivity had been around in the late 1700's, we'd still all be British subjects.

Steve Krasinsky  

Posted: December 2nd, 2020 12:32 PM

Just like your colleague, you've missed the most important point, Dan. You absolutely need to recognize your responsibility for amplifying the hateful words of Matt Baron & the very real pain and harm your editorial decision inflicted on an amazing family in our community. Until and unless you do that, this piece, no matter how thoughtful you think it is, actually perpetuates white supremacy in our community.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad