Guest Column–Matt Rosenberg: The Blue State Confederacy Of Dunces Has Big Plans For You

By Matt Rosenberg


The capture of Chicago Public Schools by the Chicago Teachers Union was complete long before the latest COVID-related teachers strike – now resolved. 

Two mayors in a row have been bullied by CTU into growth caps on public charter schools. This when less than one of five Black CPS fourth and eighth graders can meet basic proficiency standards in math and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. 

The state legislature in 2021 at CTU’s behest agreed to a moratorium on the closure of any Chicago public schools for several years, even the ones below the benchmark occupancy level of 70 percent. 

Teacher strikes are common in Chicago but not allowed in most other big districts; they are also explicitly or effectively illegal in 37 states. Chicago parents are voting with their feet, as students continue leaving CPS in droves. So CTU muscles in with some fixes to preserve what’s left of their slipping monopoly.

During the latest strike, a private CTU Facebook group was discussing keeping a “scab” list for teachers who defy the union by actually showing up to work. 

One participant, a CTU delegate and teacher at a school in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood, wrote, “I will be reporting the names of members who go in.” In a message sent to all CTU members, a field representative of the union similarly urged the reporting of any such dissidents. 

Northern and coastal cities in our country are now ruled by a confederacy of dunces. Their “diversity” and “tolerance” are a venal hoax. Their “social justice” swallows criminal justice. And the nail that stands up, gets hammered down.


Doxxed by The Right – more than forty years before the advent of Twitter 

My family has been on this merry go-round before, in another era of recent U.S. history. It was spring of 1963 in Columbus, Ohio. Less than two years before we’d land in Chicago. But the carousel was spinning in a completely different direction. I was still in short pants and much more interested in Captain Kangaroo and making castles with my building blocks, than in university politics. 

But there’s something called “The Speakers Rule” which allows Ohio State University to veto insufficiently patriotic speakers on campus. Plus an anti-communist loyalty oath that faculty members are required to sign. Fifteen professors are fed up and leaving. One is my dad, Milt. 

He tells the campus paper, “…any first-rate college or university will be subject to pressure from outside. The question is will it maintain a commitment to free…inquiry?” 

Meanwhile, my mom Marjorie is pictured in the Columbus daily newspaper leading 100 primly dressed ladies marching against resumption of nuclear testing by the U.S., U.K., and Soviets. 

Following the march a pamphlet circulates in  town that she’s aligned with Moscow. It adds that she promotes “surrendering to Communist rule,” and provides our home address and phone number. It is signed by the Franklin County Anti-Communist Study Group. 

This quickly leads to what a letter-writing friend of our family later terms “the fine American incident of the crap on the lawn.”

In the wee hours our home on Oberlin Drive – replete with the late model Rambler in the carport – is festooned by the brave freedom fighters of Columbus with dozens of dog turds laid across the front’s grassy expanse. 

Propelled by cultural and political changes, it all flips around by the mid-60s, and the authoritarian impulse shifts to the left side of the political spectrum. This new zeitgeist was captured by a radical sociologist named Herbert Marcuse at what would be my alma mater, Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass. He mapped it out in his 1965 treatise “Repressive Tolerance,” and a related essay. 


Defining Down ‘Tolerance’

Marcuse argued that in a modern society with disparities in economic and political might, conservatives deserve no intellectual and political tolerance because their ideas will only perpetuate inequities.

Marcuse wrote, “Liberating tolerance…would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left…this tolerance and intolerance…would extend to the stage of action as of discussion…” 

His New York Times obit in 1979 details how Marcuse “believed a new coalition of student radicals (and) small numbers of intellectuals” could bring about an envisioned “new age.” The Times noted that Marcuse believed “violence was justified.” 

Sound familiar?

Marcuse’s last teaching post was at the University of California in San Diego. I’m picturing the old radical Marxist, that espouser of violence in service of social justice, kicking back on a breezy Pacific veranda, maybe in La Jolla, holding a Campari and soda; rocks, lime. 

Why not? That class warrior Chairman Mao – who directed state seizures of private property and wealth – had resided in a Qing emperor’s luxury estate called The Hall of Respect For Elegance, in a special Beijing compound of lakes, parks, and palaces. 

Mao “supped on delicacies like bear paw and enjoyed the ministrations of a harem of young women, often in their teens, who serviced him singly and in groups,” writes historian Joshua Muravchik in “Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall and Afterlife of Socialism.” 

Progressive Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spent part of Christmas break in the reviled Republican state of Florida, and was photographed maskless against Omicron, like the Floridians and other deplorables whom she lectures from her Twitter perch. 

And who can forget the now-deleted social media post during the first Covid strike by CTU, from a then-board member of the union, lounging poolside in Puerto Rico in a teeny-weeny bikini while Chicago working parents scrambled – as they recently did once more – to make plans for the schooling of their children.

These privileged revolutionary poseurs have never actually believed a thing they are saying about the greater good. You should not believe them either. Particularly on the violent crime that continues to swallow failing cities whole. 


Ostriches In Charge

With homicides mounting to an all-time record in Philadelphia toward last year’s end, DA Larry Krassner, who’d been recently re-elected in another off-year contest, with a rousing 21.88 percent turnout of registered voters, proclaimed, “We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness. We don’t have a crisis of crime. We don’t have a crisis of violence.” The year would end with 562 killed in Philly, but, no problema, got it? 

Former Mayor Michael Nutter, who is a Democrat and Black, responded, “I wish some of these woke people would go back to sleep…Larry Krasner has sold the citizens of this city this idea that ‘I’m going to protect you from the police, and that’s all that matters’…” Nutter added, “Do you know what the DA’s nickname is up on State Road…where all of our prison facilities are, his nickname is ‘Let ‘Em Loose Larry.’ That’s a disgrace.”  

In Seattle, the notorious Third and Pike open-air drug bazaar has persisted for years under local “catch and release” adjudication. Hard-by the famed tourist attraction of Pike Place Market, it’s a squalid scene of dysfunction and enablement to rival San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Around Seattle’s downtown, NGOs proudly dispense anal injection devices for junkies who’ve run out veins to shoot up. This is civic virtue in Seattle. After a recent shooting there, Seattle’s new Mayor Bruce Harrell fingered – wait for it – the scourge of guns – managing to work the phrase “gun violence” into his response four times. 

New York’s new Mayor Eric Adams, and Chicago’s flailing CEO Lori Lightfoot too are inordinately fond of citing as the primary driver of violence those same inanimate cold blue steel objects. As if they shoot themselves. There are roughly 400 million guns in the U.S. and the vast majority are not misused. Could it be operator error, instead? 

Oh, wait. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says that Chicago’s epic violence – 836 homicides in 2021 and starting up again strong in the new year – is due to “historic disinvestment and marginalization.” She’s got it backwards. Residents and merchants leave neighborhoods and the city because of the violence. It’s the law-abiding, the vast majority of Chicagoans, being “marginalized” by miscreants who are rarely even arrested for murders and shootings, much less tried and sentenced. 

When working Black mothers are getting killed in cold blood on Chicago’s streets, as were two hairdressers in mid-January on the South Side; when an eight-year-old girl dies in a Chicago gang shootout; when Granny can’t sit in the front of the apartment because everyone knows that’s a lethal risk; you’re damn well going to see some “disinvestment.” 

So, turn tail and leave Chicago for Tennessee, Utah, Nevada, or Florida, if you must. Believe me, I get it. But beware: that’s actually just what they want. Instead, stay. Take action. Advocate for a robust portion of the city’s multi-billion-dollar federal Covid booty to boost construction trades job training programs on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Find ways to help struggling parents of young men at risk. Be a mentor. A reading tutor. Put some skin in the game. 

Run for office in our “non-partisan” Chicago aldermanic elections. Take on a socialist: there are six on the city council. Elect strong candidates to the state legislature from Chicago’s collar counties this year. Take back Springfield, for God’s sake. It’s where the source code for policy malfeasance gets enshrined. 

Gather signatures to get onto the statewide ballot in 2022 a measure authorizing a constitutional amendment in Illinois to permit full-on school vouchers. The money must follow the student; that’s the real education issue here. CTU’s provocations are merely a symptom of weak school choice. We can’t wait for politicians to get school choice right; that’s glaringly evident. And if you haven’t yet, become trained in proper use of a legal concealed firearm so you are not one of the next victims of an armed robbery, carjacking, knifing, or shooting.

From the political trenches to Chicago’s mean streets, today’s self-styled revolutionaries want your surrender. They count on your sense of hopelessness. So don’t get played. 

Don’t let the acolytes of Marcuse; the progenitors of lawlessness, failed public schools, and institutionalized racial apologetics; win. Don’t cede The North to the new confederacy of dunces.


Matt Rosenberg is the author of What Next, Chicago? Notes of a Pissed-Off Native Son.” He also writes at ChicagoSkooled. He lived in Chicago for 30 years, and returns frequently. He has worked in media, public policy, and communications since serving on the undercover team of the 1977 Mirage Tavern investigation. Reach him at


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