Author: Scott P. Richert (Scott P. Richert)

Home Scott P. Richert
Post

From Here to Eternity

“Weapons—guns, knives, brass knuckles, cigarette lighters . . . ” The young man’s voice trails off. If he were not waving his metal-detector wand at us, I might think that he was offering to sell us a gun or two, not asking us if we were carrying any. “No, they’re all in the trunk,” Chronicles‘...

Post

Just Another Tequila Sunrise

It may be several years before the results of Census 2000 are available in anyy usable form, but certain trends have already begun to emerge from the raw data. Most significantly, as Chilton Williamson, Jr., and Roger McGrath have pointed out earlier in this issue, the Hispanic population in the United States continues to grow...

Post

The Tower of Babble

The first call comes late on a Friday night. “Welcome back,” says Mark Dahlgren, the organist at St. Mary’s Shrine, who is nine months through the one year of probation he received for hugging a tree at Tom and Jan Ditzler’s farm (see “For Keeps! A Christian Defense of Property,” Views, April). “You probably haven’t...

Post

Breakin’ Up Is Hard To Do

After the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals officially declared that the Rockford school-desegregation lawsuit would come to an end on June 30, 2002 (see Letter From Rockford, June), many Rockfordians simply assumed that a return to local control would solve all of our problems. But even when court-ordered spending has ended, the Rockford school...

Post

Death at the Wal-Mart

Rockford made the national news again in late May, when the wire services ran shocking headlines about a pregnant shoplifter gunned down by police at a local Wal-Mart. Talk radio buzzed with angry debates between those who congratulated the police on a job well done and those who couldn’t understand how officers could possibly shoot...

Post

Free at Last

The Rockford school-desegregation lawsuit is finally over—or at least it will be, on Sunday, June 30, 2002. Yesterday—Wednesday, April 18—the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overruled federal Magistrate P. Michael Mahoney and granted the school district “unitary status” (the legal term for being, in the court’s words, “sufficiently desegregated to require...

Post

Not in Your Back Yard

“Why is the traffic stopped?” “Is that a cop car?” “Yeah, there must’ve been an accident.” “No, he’s directing traffic. They’re all waiting to get in the parking lot! The gym’s going to be packed!” “He’s not letting anyone else in,” Mary says, deftly turning the minivan around in the freezing rain. She pulls off...

For Keeps!
Post

For Keeps!

Tom Ditzler, a veteran, buys 30 acres of rural farmland. For 50 years, he and his wife, Jan, live there, rearing two children, Cassandra and Christina. Tom comes to know the contours of his property by heart—the creek that runs across his land, the wetlands surrounding the creek, the hills and woods that rise up...

Post

A Month in the Life of the Industrial Midwest

News Item: “Motorola Inc. will close its only U.S. cellular-phone manufacturing operation, putting 2,S00 of 5,000 people out of work to ease sagging profits amid increased global competition. Employees who will remain at the 1.3 million square-foot plant that opened in 1996 will focus on research, marketing and other activities for the cellular market…” (“Motorola...

Post

I’ve Got a Secret

Back in November and December, while Republicans across the country were writing letters, calling in to talk radio, and even taking to the streets to protest Al Gore’s attempt to steal the election in Florida, their fellow party members in Rockford remained strangely silent. They must have found it disquieting when the Bush campaign kept...

Post

True Reform

The Electoral College is an archaic institution designed by men who felt that they could not trust the people at large to choose the president—or so we are told every four years by the most ignorant members of the Fourth Estate. While it may have been true (the argument continues) that the people were relatively...

Post

Chaos and Community

I tune the radio to WLS, and the insistent voice of Tony Brown breaks me out of my trance. It’s Saturday, December 9, the day after a bitterly divided Florida Supreme Court stretched (and possibly broke) Florida law in order to allow a statewide recount of undervotes in the presidential election. My family and I...

Post

Mr. Wilson’s Wars

“National aspirations must be respected; peoples may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. ‘Self-determination’ is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril.” Woodrow Wilson’s words, recorded in the New York Times on February 12,1918, defined the 20th century and...

Post

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

October 26, 2000, dawned pretty much like every other day here in Rockford, Illinois. After ten years of living under the dictatorship of a federal magistrate, we had decided that nothing would ever change. And then something did. On that glorious Indian summer morning, the Illinois Supreme Court, by a vote of six to one,...

Post

In the National News

Rockford doesn’t often make the national news, but when it does, you can be certain it’s not because of any good that’s happening here. Our latest brush with fame came on the last day of September, when a 32-year-old Catholic priest from a parish just south of Rockford rammed his car into the local abortuary....

Beyond Consilience
Post

Beyond Consilience

When I was a senior in high school, a local Christian Reformed pastor recruited me and a few friends to play Christmas carols as his congregation filed into church during Advent. Since our brass quartet also played the recessional, we would sit through the service. One Sunday, the pastor—locally renowned as a thought-provoking speaker—began his...

Post

A Hot Topic

Education is a hot topic this election year, and both Al Gore and George W. Bush are trying to claim the mantle of the “Education President.” To listen to the two campaigns, Texas either has the worst public schools in the nation, or the best; the media should be able to determine which campaign’s claims...

Post

Rockford School Case

The Rockford school case continues, and, as the most recent ruling by Magistrate P. Michael Mahoney makes clear, there is no end in sight. On August 11, the imperial ruler of Rockford denied the school board’s motion for “unitary status,” a legal term denoting the end of court control. In itself, that’s no surprise: Other...

Post

Stumping for Votes

The Presidential election campaign was well under way when the two major party candidates began crisscrossing the United States, stumping for votes at the annual meetings of Mexican-American organizations. Here in Rockford (as in other cities with significant Hispanic populations), the local Gannett paper devoted an entire Sunday commentary section to interviews with the candidates,...

Post

“Go, Pat, Go!”

Pat Buchanan’s October 25 announcement that he would seek the presidential nomination of the Reform Party was greeted with contempt by Republican commentators. After all, Buchanan has twice failed to capture the Republican nomination, and in his third time out, he barely registered in the polls. His moment had passed, they argued, or perhaps he’d...

Post

Banning Assisted Suicide

Jack Kevorkian may have decided to assist in one last suicide: his own. In November, Kevorkian provided 60 Minutes with a videotape of the death of Thomas Youk, a 52-year-old man with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Kevorkian bluntly admitted that he had turned the tape over in order to force prosecutors in Oakland County, Michigan, to...

Post

Our New Circus

“John Glenn returns to space!” the headlines screamed, and I found myself screaming back, “I don’t care!” I guess it’s a generational thing: I wouldn’t understand. Why did so many people—especially children of the Baby Boom—care that this man, who has spent his entire life feeding out of the public trough (with a little dessert...

Post

Bulgarian Conference

Hillary Clinton wisely chose to spend her 23rd wedding anniversary at a women’s conference in Bulgaria rather than in Washington with her husband. The White House claimed that Mrs. Clinton had decided to attend the October conference months earlier, but the timing—less than a week after the House of Representatives voted to open an impeachment...

Post

The GM Strike

The GM strike that occupied the headlines this summer may be a portent of things to come, as a new wave of corporate consolidations and trade agreements destabilize the last of America’s great industries. Both UAW leaders and outside observers compared the strike to the historic 1937 “Sit-Down Strike” that established a symbiotic relationship between...

Post

Of Steak and Suicide

“In the end, she went quickly with very little discomfort, and surrounded by her loved ones.” Thus spoke Sir Paul McCartney, four days after the death of his wife, Linda, as rumors swirled that Mrs. McCartney, suffering from breast cancer, had ended her own life in an assisted suicide at age 56. The rumors were...

Post

Rockford Schools Controversy

The Rockford schools controversy, approaching its tenth anniversary, is taking on the mythic stature of the Little Rock, Cleveland, and Kansas City cases. While still in its infancy (as desegregation cases go) and relatively inexpensive (only $166 million through the end of the 1997-98 school year, compared to $2 billion in Kansas City), the Rockford...

Post

Latest Rallying Cry

“Remember Jonesboro” is the latest rallying cry of the “If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere” crowd. In one sense, of course, they’re obviously correct: no town is immune to the evil influences that convince an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old to shoot and kill their fellow students. But the Jonesboro groupies are disingenuous:...

Post

Turning Tide

The Rockford School desegregation case continues, but if the actions of the federal magistrate’s supporters are any indication, the tide is turning in favor of the citizens of Rockford. Stunned by recent electoral and courtroom setbacks, the leader of the local N,A4CP, a Rockford alderman, the mayor, and the superintendent of schools (all black) resorted...

The Multicultural Lie
Post

The Multicultural Lie

Rockford, Illinois, the home of The Rockford Institute and Chronicles, was established in a series of migratory ripples: first Yankees, then Scots, then Swedes. A later wave of immigration brought many Italians, both from Sicily and Northern Italy. Today, German-Americans are the largest ethnic group in Rockford, as they are in the United States as...

Post

Goes Hand in Hand

The Rebel Flag and Ole Miss go hand-in-hand—or rather, they did, until recently. The University of Mississippi’s football team is named the Rebels, and students and alumni have had a long tradition of waving the Confederate Battle Flag at home football games. But the tides of time and political correctness have washed up on Ole...

Chronicling the Fall
Post

Chronicling the Fall

        “Folly is often more cruel in the consequences than malice can be in the intent.” —Halifax The correspondence of Edmund Burke, whose letters help to illuminate his published works, was not available in a complete edition until 1978. Today, however, it seems that every aspiring journalist begins saving his correspondence even...

Post

A Potent Symbol

Little Rock, Arkansas, is still a potent symbol 40 years after the forcible integration of Central High School. That’s why President Clinton chose Central High as the site of a speech in late September, one of many that he intends to deliver on race relations over the coming year. Paralyzed by the numerous scandals that...

Post

The Ruby Ridge Saga Continues

The Ruby Ridge saga continues. Five years to the day after 14-year-old Samuel Weaver and United States Marshal William Degan were killed in the initial confrontation at Randy Weaver’s residence, prosecutors in Boundary County, Idaho, indicted Weaver’s friend Kevin Harris on charges of first-degree murder. Weaver’s supporters were rightly outraged, with some claiming that the...

Post

“Racial Balance”

The Rockford schools case continues, but for the first time since the “People Who Care” lawsuit was filed in 1989, there are signs of hope. As chronicled by Tom Fleming in these pages in February (“Here Come the Judge”), the Rockford public schools have been under federal control for the past three years, the result...

Post

New Cops on the Block

“Well,” said Sam Donaldson on This Week With David Brinkley” last February 23, “how many foreign languages do you speak?” “Five,” replied the new U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. “Well, four; depends on whether you count English as a foreign language. I guess it is to me.” We all know that Madeleine Albright is...

Post

Today’s Political Buzzword

Education is today’s political buzzword, and, like any issue involving children, it is quickly becoming a trump card. Following President Clinton’s cue, Jesse Jackson is traveling the country, raising support for an “education summit.” And despite George Bush’s claim to be the “education President,” Clinton has put more of a mark on the American educational...

Us vs. Them
Post

Us vs. Them

They live in the town, but they have no control over it. For three years, their lives have been at the mercy of shadowy aliens who have slowly destroyed the community, forcing its citizens to work for their enrichment. Parents fear that their children will be taken from them. Some wish to resist, but they...

Post

Under Siege

The Mexican-American border is under siege, and the latest attack has come from the Mexican government. In December, the Mexican Senate unanimously approved a constitutional amendment which allows Mexicans to become United States citizens without losing their Mexican citizenship. A few days later, the Mexican Congress approved the same amendment, 405-1. This was Mexico’s second...

His Final Lesson
Post

His Final Lesson

A friend of mine has expressed the devout hope that, upon his death, his wife and children will have the good sense to burn his papers. While his main desire is to prevent unfinished thoughts from seeing the light of day, there are other, equally important, concerns. Posthumously published works allow enemies to attack without...

Post

“Child Care”

Childcare is back in the news, thanks to a new study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Preliminary results of the study, which has been touted as the “most far-reaching and comprehensive” examination of the effects of childcare to date, were released...