A columnist for the Chicago Tribune published a story comparing Chicago to New Orleans on Thursday that resulted in a backlash of Twitter and social media outrage. In the piece, the writer suggested that a Katrina-like storm would be good for her own Windy City, allowing for the metropolis to hit the “reset button.”
Hurricane Katrina was responsible for the deaths of 1,833 people in 2005, according to statistics reported by the Huffington Post. The collective question racing through social media on Thursday seemed to be, “Do lives lost in Katrina matter to this woman?”
Tribune Editorial Board member Kristen McQueary wrote the opinion piece, originally entitled “In Chicago, wishing for a Hurricane Katrina.” The headline was later rewritten to “Chicago, New Orleans, and rebirth,” according to local New Orleans television station WDSU. In addition to the title change, some of the more incendiary passages were removed from the amended article.
HuffPost was quick to create a PDF document of the original article, which can be viewed here.
“I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break,” McQueary wrote. “Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.”
The Op-Ed published on Thursday instantly ignited the people of an already volatile internet to respond with passionate voices through text.
“Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth,” wrote McQueary.
In her article, the reporter condemned the “perpetual abyss” Chicago public schools, the city’s “spiraling debt,” and the mayor. She referred to public officials discussing budget solutions as “desperate, sweaty and deceitful.”
“That’s why I find myself praying for a real storm,” added the Chicago columnist. “It’s why I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help and waving their arms and lurching toward rescue helicopters.”
New Orleans-born actor Wendell Pierce shared his reaction through his Twitter account.
Some Twitter users questioned the legitimacy of the columnist.
Others were simply outraged by wishes, even simply those voiced in a spirited column, for a storm like Katrina to hit Chicago.
“As a person who escaped Hurricane Katrina in the nick of time and lives in Chicago this is utterly disgusting,” tweeted one person.
Another Twitter subscriber posted the following.
McQueary responded to the criticism on Twitter Thursday night, saying, “If you read the piece, it’s about finances and government. I would never diminish the tragedy of thousands of lives lost.”
A Twitter user of the Chicago Teachers Union did not agree.
It has been 10 years since Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Family members continue to rebuild and mourn the loss of loved ones taken by the storm. The revised article, “Chicago, New Orleans, and rebirth” has not been withdrawn from the Chicago Tribune webpage as of Friday afternoon, and, if anything, a certain columnist has found herself within her own Twitter storm.
[Image via Wikimedia]