Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Chicago monuments under assault, Part 24: Chicago River plaque

The secretive Chicago Monuments Project hasn't just declared war on statues, such as ones of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Ulysses S. Grant. Some bronze plaques also, in the words of the Project, "warrant attention or action."

From the left and the right, the Chicago Monuments Project has received blowback on the rationale why most of these statues, reliefs, and plaques have been placed in jeopardy. Oh yes, on their website we are assured, cough-cough, in bold print no less, "No decisions have been made about the following monuments."

One of those monuments is the seemingingly innocuous plaque, unless you are woke, about the Chicago River that is bolted onto the DuSable Bridge. That bridge is named for a black man, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the first non-Native American to permanently reside in Chicago.

It reads

Chicago River - This river, originally flowing eastward from the prairie homelands of the Potawatomi and other Indian tribes, into Lake Michigan, linked the waters of the Atlantic, the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes with those of the Illinois, the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. From 1673, commerce and civilization followed this natural waterway from the seaboard to the heart of the continent. The strategic importance to early American development of the junction of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan led to the establishment here of Fort Dearborn and to the founding of the city of Chicago. - Erected in 1953 to the memory of those pioneers who plied the water route. - Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Illinois.

While I don't speak "woke," I am quite familiar with wokeness, so I'll ascertain why the permanently-aggrieved chose this plaque to possibly be sent to the scrap yard.

The first recorded Europeans to visit Chicago were Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet--whose monuments in Chicago also might be eliminated--in 1673. Jolliet immediately recognized that the portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watersheds was an ideal location for a canal, which was opened in 1848. As I've remarked before, that canal is what transformed Chicago from a frontier outpost into a major city. But the woke committee likely sees this plaque as something that promotes "narratives of white supremacy." Even though it was Native Americans who told Marquette and Jolliet about the Chicago Portage, they didn't discover it on their own.

Here's something else to chew on about white supremacy in America. I heard on a podcast recently that the early European journeys to the western hemisphere and the settlement that followed would not have been possible were it not for the Four Great Inventions of China: the movable type printing press, the compass, paper, and gunpowder. Yes, China. 

No society exists in a vacuum. We build up on the accomplishments of all of them. That's a lessson you won't learn at our woke schools.

When that plaque was installed, the Chicago River was at best an afterthought to Lake Michigan. It was a heavily-polluted embarassment. Yet the Society of Colonial Wars chose to recognize its importance. The Chicago River is now much cleaner, thankfully.

To comment on the monuments "under review" please visit the Chicago Monuments Project's "Feedback page." Please be polite but firm in your comments. 

Please Tweet this post. When you do so use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

Earlier posts

Related posts of mine at Da Tech Guy

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