Narrow minds try to erase history in Oak Park, Illinois

Ernest Hemingway was often accused of characterizing Oak Park, Illinois, as a “neighborhood with wide lawns and narrow minds.” The quote is actually of dubious authenticity, but it is undoubtedly true that the famous writer, born and raised in the Chicago suburb, was happy to leave his hometown and make his reputation in Paris, Havana, and Key West.

The Oak Park of today, however, bears little resemblance to the provincial little town that Hemingway fled. The affluent suburb is now very “woke,” a sanctuary city, racially diverse, and a Democratic stronghold. In the 2016 election, Oak Park gave Hillary Clinton nearly 86% of the vote

Recently, Oak Park’s social justice warriors set their sites on an 82-year-old mural sitting peacefully in the one of the village’s middle schools. The mural, titled, “Child and Sports -- Winter” (see below) was painted in 1937 by an artist named Ethel Spears with funding from the Works Progress Administration. It is a bucolic scene, depicting children skating on a frozen pond, throwing snowballs, and riding on a sleigh. The problem? All the children are white (as was Oak Park in 1937).

According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the push to remove the painting started when a member of the school’s “Social Justice Club,” complained at a school board meeting. She said the mural made some students “feel invisible” because it doesn’t reflect the demographics of the current student body. “How can a student learn in a healthy environment when they don’t feel they are being seen?”

In the age of identity politics, this is regarded as a valid question.

No matter: a letter was sent to the families by the school principal informing them that the mural has been removed. According to the Chicago Tribune, the mural has been transported to a “climate-controlled” storage area.

Like a virus, the plague of political correctness is infecting every nook and cranny in America. Genuine liberals should be horrified.

The Tribune piece quotes David Sokol, a resident of Oak Park and professor emeritus of American Art, Modern Art and Museology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as being concerned about the “precedent” being set by removing the artwork.

“This was simply a fact of what the community looked like in 1937,” Sokol said. “It doesn’t show anyone in a bad light. I think it’s tragic. It removes our history. Taking it out of the education system is censorship and eradication.”

Yes, and that’s by design. Bit by bit, all across America, in large cities and small, colleges and middle schools, the historic American nation is being erased. Whether it's confederate generals one day and Kate Smith the next, there is a relentless push to erase the way we looked and thought and act. The precedent has been established; the only question now is whether it will be reversed.

You can follow Nicholas J. Kaster on Twitter.

Ernest Hemingway was often accused of characterizing Oak Park, Illinois, as a “neighborhood with wide lawns and narrow minds.” The quote is actually of dubious authenticity, but it is undoubtedly true that the famous writer, born and raised in the Chicago suburb, was happy to leave his hometown and make his reputation in Paris, Havana, and Key West.

The Oak Park of today, however, bears little resemblance to the provincial little town that Hemingway fled. The affluent suburb is now very “woke,” a sanctuary city, racially diverse, and a Democratic stronghold. In the 2016 election, Oak Park gave Hillary Clinton nearly 86% of the vote

Recently, Oak Park’s social justice warriors set their sites on an 82-year-old mural sitting peacefully in the one of the village’s middle schools. The mural, titled, “Child and Sports -- Winter” (see below) was painted in 1937 by an artist named Ethel Spears with funding from the Works Progress Administration. It is a bucolic scene, depicting children skating on a frozen pond, throwing snowballs, and riding on a sleigh. The problem? All the children are white (as was Oak Park in 1937).

According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the push to remove the painting started when a member of the school’s “Social Justice Club,” complained at a school board meeting. She said the mural made some students “feel invisible” because it doesn’t reflect the demographics of the current student body. “How can a student learn in a healthy environment when they don’t feel they are being seen?”

In the age of identity politics, this is regarded as a valid question.

No matter: a letter was sent to the families by the school principal informing them that the mural has been removed. According to the Chicago Tribune, the mural has been transported to a “climate-controlled” storage area.

Like a virus, the plague of political correctness is infecting every nook and cranny in America. Genuine liberals should be horrified.

The Tribune piece quotes David Sokol, a resident of Oak Park and professor emeritus of American Art, Modern Art and Museology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as being concerned about the “precedent” being set by removing the artwork.

“This was simply a fact of what the community looked like in 1937,” Sokol said. “It doesn’t show anyone in a bad light. I think it’s tragic. It removes our history. Taking it out of the education system is censorship and eradication.”

Yes, and that’s by design. Bit by bit, all across America, in large cities and small, colleges and middle schools, the historic American nation is being erased. Whether it's confederate generals one day and Kate Smith the next, there is a relentless push to erase the way we looked and thought and act. The precedent has been established; the only question now is whether it will be reversed.

You can follow Nicholas J. Kaster on Twitter.