Friday, June 17, 2005


Is there another columnist in Chicago journalism who expends as much ink trying to mnufacture a tough-guy image as John Kass does? It seems that the theme of every other column is John Kass is so much harder than you.

Is John Kass actually pugnacious?

Sure he looks like a brawler. But just because a guy's face looks like he's been in a fight, that doesn't mean he is an actual fighter.

And, yeah, he loves red meat and he's from the south side, but he's grillin' in the suburbs now. His biography on the Trib website says he was "merchant marine sailor" but it also says he was also a film student.

Très rugged.

In today's column, Kass once again struts his second-hand toughness.

First, he lets us know that he considers prisoner abuse to be the stuff of strong-hearted humor. It might not be politically correct to jest about men being chained and forced to lie in their own filth, but manly men like Kass can see the comedy in it.

Then Kass turns to his oldest and dearest proof of his own toughness -- his dad:
In World War II in Greece, my father was handed over to the Germans on the suspicion he aided downed British airmen. They beat him, day after day, making him dig his own grave. He played dumb to survive and it worked. An uncle was forced into a labor camp. The Nazis didn't use Christina Aguilera music on him, though luckily, he too survived.
Wow. Sounds to me like the elder Kasses were tougher than hell. You'd think having grown up around real tough-guys, John would have learned to identify legitimate toughness and, by contrast, recognize his own printed posturing. You can inherit a name and you can inherit a Greek grocery store, but you can't inherit toughness.

But that doesn't deter John Kass. And in his closing he lets Sen. Durbin -- a man who dared to question the abuse of prisoners by Americans -- know just how damn tough he is:
And if you don't have the stomach for the work, please have the guts not to play partisan politics with what has to be done.
That's right, John Kass, second-hand tough-guy, has the personal courage, the stomach, the guts, to stand aside and let other Americans torture prisoners.

What balls.

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