The Rockford Files

Immanentizing the Eschaton

Around this time every year, I find myself in the strange circumstance of writing a column before Ash Wednesday that won’t appear until after Easter Sunday.  If the overarching theme of my column were something other than Rockford as a microcosm of America, this situation might not seem so odd.  Every year, however, I’m haunted by the thought that Rockford is stuck in a perpetual Lent—moving always toward some glorious resolution that will change the shape of life here, but never quite arriving.

Take, for instance, the Rockford school-desegregation lawsuit, on which more than a few words have been spilled in these pages, starting with Tom Fleming’s classic February 1997 Perspective, “Here Come the Judge.”  Five years ago, those of us who had fought to end federal judicial tyranny over Rockford School District 205 could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  After 13 years and a third of a billion dollars in wasted property taxes, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had ordered federal control to end on June 30, 2002.

And it did.  But not much really changed. Today, the school district’s property-tax levy is as high as it was before the lawsuit ended; its budget is higher; and, in these days of high gas prices and immoral wars for control of foreign oil, hundreds of buses still crisscross the city every morning and afternoon, breaking up families...

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