• Last modified 298 days ago (Sept. 21, 2023)


Breaking mirror?

To the editor:

In reference to: “Marion mayor defends police in newspaper raid: ‘I’m not sure exactly what they did wrong”.

I’ve watched Marion’s sordid drama unfold since the news broke of the newspaper raid more than a month ago.

I’ve struggled to remain conscious while reading the years’ worth of the mayor’s petty, unmanly whining on his Facebook page, fidgeted through the videos of your city council meetings, and glazed over at the meaningless boilerplate your chief of police posted on the police department’s Facebook page. All on top of following the dodgy antics of sociopathic DUI-girl, and those of the rest of the supporting cast of sheriffs, lawyers, and judges.

My conclusion: Marion’s current notoriety illustrates Hannah Arendt’s well-worn, but still serviceable, phrase “the banality of evil.”

Whoever is really in charge — whether some amorphous clique of citizens, the mayor and city council, or whomever else I can only guess at — has created the sort of civic atmosphere in which a clearly illegal raid on a newspaper by vigilantes in blue is officially acceptable.

Your mayor is out of his depth, a political hack who lacks basic leadership skills and reveals himself as such every time he opens his mouth. The headline cited above tells that story.

He doesn’t exist in a vacuum, however. The city council, at least the majority, appears to be of the “go along to get along” species. The others know who they are.

All too often nowadays, we are exposed to leaders at all levels in the formal and informal chains of command who fail to take responsibility for the actions of their subordinates, let alone their own, and with depressing regularity think themselves above the law.

The saddest aspect of this whole distasteful episode is, of course, the attack on the Marion County Record, which is an attack on freedom of the press and the first amendment, which is, in turn, an attack on all Americans — all of us.

The raid was clearly planned and executed by those who thought they could get away with it, have no real regard for the law, and have no understanding of the gravity of their actions, and who perhaps still think they will get away with it. That remains to be seen.

At its best, journalism, as does art, holds a mirror up to society. If it doesn’t like what it sees, an honest, open society of, say, Americans — who believe themselves to be the “last best hope of earth,” persons of good will, to whom the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount aren’t just the screeds of some random extremist — might desire to correct the flaws in the image reflected back at them.

Others, the more nihilistic of us, have a simpler solution: Don’t like what you see? Break the mirror!

Unfortunately, the break-the-mirror crowd briefly dominated in this instance — briefly, that is, being in the 24 hours between the act and the time it took to spread the word, generating the world’s scorn and vilification upon their heads.

No one can predict how or whether this affront to our democracy, to Americans, and its litter of smaller affronts since revealed, will play out. Let’s all hope that sunshine, being the best disinfectant, will exert its positive influence.

Gaylan Johnson
Mundelein, Illinois

Last modified Sept. 21, 2023