Joseph Flynn

A Bad Way To Deal With Things

Mar 5, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump Jr.’s wife Vanessa was sent to the hospital for observation after opening an envelope containing white powder. Luckily she was fine; the powder was determined to be nonthreatening.

It got me thinking. No matter how angry some of us are with President Trump and his antics, please, do not attempt to assassinate Mr. Trump. Seriously. That would be disastrous to the nation, for it would deepen the rifts of values and ideologies and may destroy, for generations to come, any chances for reconciliation and healing our nation desperately needs.

A Christmas Wish For All Year Long

Dec 25, 2017

What is Christmas about? Simple: It is a celebration of a divine man who represents the best of humanity. It makes me wonder if he questions where our heads are for the other 364 days of the year.

We Must Understand Our Oppression

Nov 20, 2017

In 1977, the great British punk band The Clash released one of their most blistering protest – rather, call-to-action -- songs, “White Riot,” with lyrics like:

Black people gotta lot a problems

But they don’t mind throwing a brick

White people go to school

Where they teach you how to be thick…

White riot – I want to riot

White riot – a riot of my own

Just One More Example ...

Oct 16, 2017

Not even a month after a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States -- or should I say, a responsibility of the United States -- President Trump tweeted: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

It's All Science ... All Of It

Sep 11, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Two natural occurrences have caught the nation’s attention recently: the Great North American Solar Eclipse and hurricanes. The eclipse was the first of its kind since 1918, and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were powerful storms causing serious devastation.

Why are these events similar? Scientists predicted both.

For decades scientists knew when the eclipse was going to happen and its trajectory -- decades! Scientists also can predict hurricanes months in advance and their trajectories days in advance.

A Challenge For This Vacation

Aug 7, 2017

For vacation I am going to Europe. Despite my excitement, I have a tinge of loathing.

It’s not about struggling with speaking German. I am more concerned with the possible onslaught of questions about U.S. politics.

The last time I visited Europe was during the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011. After being asked about the impasse several times, my answers began feeling hollow. Being abroad forces you to be a little more objective as you hear yourself outside the comfort of our borders and see how other nations actually live.

How Would You Explain This?

Jul 3, 2017

On June 24, an off-duty Lansing, Ill., police officer was filmed brutally detaining an unarmed 15-year-old African-American boy, Jordan Brunson, and threatening his life. Why? The boy was on his lawn.

According to WGN News, two boys -- one white and the other black -- had just escaped a fight with a group of boys. The unnamed white kid was reeling with minor injuries when they randomly stopped at a house and sat on the porch to tend to the wounds.

With Respect And Gratitude ...

May 29, 2017

Within the last few months, a few of my favorite movies have aired on television: Platoon; Full Metal Jacket; and Saving Private Ryan. If you have missed any one of these films, see it as fast as you can.

Each one pierces into an experience that the overwhelming number of us luckily have never known. War is not glamorous, and these films reflect that stark reality -- offering gritty, complex, and honest depictions of the physical, mental, and spiritual toll of war.

Let The Summer Games Begin

Apr 24, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Can you believe it? Summer is right around the corner. Time to start thinking about our kids’ summer activities. Summer camp, Little League and, much to some of our chagrin, video games.

My kid loves video games. It started with Super Mario Brothers. Then came the Minecraft era. Now he is obsessed with Overwatch on X-Box One that allows you to play online. I occasionally watch him play, noting his amazing dexterity and rapt attention while winning battles against a cast of crazy fictional characters I can neither name nor explain. 

A Wise Word For All 'Kids'

Mar 27, 2017
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

I know it’s not Mother’s Day, but I want to talk about my moms for a second. Her birthday was last Thursday, and I have been thinking about her a lot. When I called her with birthday wishes, the sound of her voice was like the comfort food she made me when I was a kid: warm, rich and filling.

That same voice taught and guided me through so much over my 46 years that thank you never really seems sufficient. I am always awed by how she just knows when to call or how she is so steadfast in her faith, come what may.

Burned Up Over Political Hypocrisy

Feb 27, 2017

Americans have voiced frustration about Washington politics. What burns me up, though, is the bald-faced hypocrisy of all stakeholders -- including us voters.

I recently heard Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claim Democratic obstruction over cabinet picks was unprecedented. Really? That coming from the guy who orchestrated a nine-month block of President Obama’s Supreme Court justice pick and eight years of declared obstruction!

What Word Defines American Values?

Jan 30, 2017

When you hear the term American values, what comes to mind? The pioneering spirit? Hard work and ingenuity? Democracy? Diversity? Bravery? Freedom?

These are all noble qualities of the United States. However, these are not the only valid ways to describe us. We could also use words like contentious, arrogant, short-sighted, hypocritical, materialistic, uncritical, selfish, and oppressive.

Don't Let Those Moments Slip By

Jan 2, 2017

2016 was a painful year.

January brought the passing of David Bowie, and then it all sort of went downhill from there. We recoiled at the passing of Prince, Muhammad Ali, Pat Summit, Elie Wiesel, and the guy who played R2-D2. These deaths, albeit painful, also gave us a chance to reconnect, reflect, and rejoice in their brilliant gifts of culture and humanity.

But, to be honest, my most staggering loss was two dear friends from graduate school.

Who Is This Education Nominee?

Dec 5, 2016
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education is an ideologue with no real experience with public schools.

Betsy DeVos is a billionaire who grew up very wealthy in Michigan. She has never attended a public school, at any level -- nor have her children. She does not hold a single educator’s credential -- neither a teaching certification nor an administrator’s endorsement.

We, The People, Must Act

Nov 7, 2016

My fellow Americans: Tomorrow is Election Day, arguably our most important and most loathsome day. Public confidence in government has receded into a reservoir of cynicism and mistrust. And each election we seek a savior that never comes.

This is neither a partisan nor branch issue. Each administration has found itself mired in controversies and inquiries and, with each scandal or ill-considered action or ham-fisted explanation, the public’s confidence further erodes.

Finding A Cure For This 'Cancer'

Oct 10, 2016

Cancer is known as the silent killer, since people don’t always feel sick when diagnosed. But doctors can run tests and inform the patient that -- despite how she feels -- she is sick and needs to undergo treatment and change her lifestyle, lest the cancer spread.

Like cancer, racism is a silent killer and also has been studied in great detail by experts for decades. Like cancer it is complex, appearing in many forms and requiring challenging cures.

Much More Than Just Documents

Aug 22, 2016

The highlight of my summer was the family trip to Washington, D.C., and our visit to the National Archives and Records Administration -- the nation's record keeper.

Their website proclaims, “Of all documents and materials created … by the United States Federal government, only one to three are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.”    

Exposing Skeletons In America's Closet

Aug 2, 2016

Our nation is a family, inextricably linked by the DNA of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of this great nation. Like all families we have our triumphs and joys, our arguments and dissents.

And, like all families, we have our secrets -- those skeletons that lurk just behind a slightly ajar closet door. Skeletons that fracture.

Look Beyond The Single Incidents

Jul 11, 2016

Recently, activist and actor Jesse Williams said, "If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression."

Then, last Tuesday, Alton Sterling was pinned down and shot at point blank range by police in Baton Rouge, La., while selling CDs in front of a convenience store.

One More Label For Shooting Tragedy

Jun 20, 2016

Once again the nation is reeling from a devastating loss -- the Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub, where 49 citizens were murdered and more than 50 wounded.

People on both ends of the political spectrum have rehashed their positions once again on terrorism, guns, and violence. And once again, the nation faces immobility and inaction. But another challenge is emerging: labeling.

2016 Campaign Tactics Aren't New

May 30, 2016

Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, the question has shifted from ‘How he could ever be president?’ to ‘What happened?’

To explain how Trump rose from the “most unlikely” to the “most likely,” many pundits have pointed to his brash, unapologetic declarations that stoked fires of intolerance. Whether by design or happenstance, his pronouncements and subtle slights against minorities, have, in the recent words of former President Jimmy Carter, “tapped a waiting reservoir of inherent racism.”

Another Example Of Mindless Attack

May 9, 2016

"Another academically challenged affirmative action parasite steals a place from a qualified White or Asian student."

"Hopefully she gets cancer or AIDS or one of those colored diseases."

"I wonder if she applied as a mudslime or  a foreign student or just a n****r."

These racially charged aspersions are not from a bygone era. Last week, they were posted to a cable news network’s comments section when they reported Malia Obama’s acceptance to Harvard, her father’s alma mater. To their credit, they shut down the comments section.

Budget Inaction Needs Action

Apr 18, 2016

Illinois is in the depths of an historic budget impasse. The democratic-controlled legislature is pushing for tax increases while Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner opposes any taxes. Unfortunately, their inability to find any compromise will affect all Illinoisans, particularly the poor and working class.

Many services have been impacted, including child welfare, Meals-on-Wheels, epilepsy treatments, sexual assault and rape crisis centers, drug treatment programs, juvenile justice programs, and many others.

Leading Candidates Share A Flaw

Mar 7, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the front-runners for the presidential nomination of different parties, but they both have been guilty of the same disturbing practice: Both have been dismissive toward protesters.

Secretary Clinton dismissed a #BlackLivesMatter protester at a private event while others sat and jeered. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump has called protesters stupid, dumb, and losers, and he even allowed others to assault protestors.

In short, both stood against hearing those urging change on substantial issues. Both chose to silence protest.

It All Goes Back To How It Began

Feb 15, 2016

When I entered my first class as a graduate student, my life changed. What made that day memorable was the beautiful woman who walked in shortly after me. I tripped through my nerves and stumbled over my words for weeks before awkwardly asking her for her phone number and inviting her to spend an afternoon with me.

It's More Than Just Bad Water

Jan 25, 2016

Easy access to clean drinking water is an American privilege we seldom consider. It’s an accouterment of an industrialized society with a well-developed infrastructure.

But what if your elected officials disregard warnings and common sense and supply water that is questionable at best, toxic at the worst? Welcome to Flint, Michigan.

These Stories Will Echo In 2016

Jan 4, 2016

Here’s my list – in no particular order -- of the top five stories from 2015 that will echo across 2016.

Repealing the No Child Left Behind Act: Repealing this law is the end of an era that many education experts feel was impractical, inefficient, ineffective, and inequitable for low-income students and schools.

Respect For All The Holidays

Dec 14, 2015

As the end of the year draws near, we once again find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season with all the attendant excitement and accouterments we have come to expect: wreaths, sleigh bells, Santa, and Christmas trees. Oh, and menorahs… and kinaras. And the obligatory claims that there is a war on Christmas.

The idea of a war on Christmas is a modestly brilliant foil to increase ratings for news organizations -- a faux problem that incites enough anger and frustration to promote arguments.

Don't Let Fear Overshadow Our Ideals

Nov 23, 2015

As we approach Thanksgiving, I am concerned with the image of America in the wake of the appalling acts of terror in Paris and our national reluctance to harbor Syrian refugees.

Our nation is a unique experiment in idealism. Our might is just as much about our values and promise as it is about economics and the military.

We are supposed to be the paragon of strength and resolve. We are supposed to be the quintessence of mercy and justice. We are supposed to be the stalwarts of hope and faith.

What Does Your Costume Convey?

Nov 2, 2015

All holidays have the things we love and hate. At Halloween, we love trick-or-treating, and many of us hate the blackface.

I saw on Facebook last week a white Florida teen decided to dress as Nicki Minaj, in blackface. A white Alabama teacher decided to dress as Kanye West, in blackface. His wife claimed no racial intent and that many of her husband’s friends are black -- as though either makes one immune from doing something racist.