This month marks the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the storm that ravaged New Orleans leaving 1,833 of its citizens dead. There are a lot of reasonable emotions to feel in response to this particular tragedy—sadness, grief, and anger, to name a few. How about envy? Sure, I guess—so says one brave Chicago Tribune op-ed writer who isn’t afraid to present herself as a potential sociopath in her quest to expose Chicago’s inadequacies.

Because Chicago is a shit city that should be rebuilt from scratch, is what conservative writer Kristen McQueary argues in “In Chicago, wishing for a Hurricane Katrina.” The piece has since been reframed as “Chicago, New Orleans, and rebirth” but McQueary’s fervent wish for a natural disaster to destroy Chicago and, one assumes, its citizens (figuratively, of course, she’s not a psychopath), remains:

Envy isn’t a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board, I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak,” McQueary concludes. Also death, which she declines to touch on—a little too real, presumably, for the perfect storm metaphor. But, one suspects from her breathless appreciation of the healing effects of a devastating flood, those fatalities were ultimately for the greater good—just look what happened:

Residents overthrew a corrupt government. A new mayor slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts. New Orleans’ City Hall got leaner and more efficient. Dilapidated buildings were torn down. Public housing got rebuilt. Governments were consolidated.

An underperforming public school system saw a complete makeover. A new schools chief, Paul Vallas, designed a school system with the flexibility of an entrepreneur. No restrictive mandates from the city or the state. No demands from teacher unions to abide. Instead, he created the nation’s first free-market education system.

Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth.

Hurricane Katrina also gave a great American paper a tone-deaf, embarrassing op-ed, so I guess you take the good with the bad.

But lest you think her uncaring, she assures you, she is not—she can relate.

That’s why I find myself praying for a storm. OK, a figurative storm, something that will prompt a rebirth in Chicago. 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.

Except here, no one responds to the SOS messages painted boldly in the sky. Instead, they double down on their own man-made disaster.

Except here, no one responds to the SOS messages painted boldly in the sky. Instead, they double down on their own man-made disaster.

In a Twitter addendum to the piece, McQueary writes: “If you read the piece, it’s about finances and government. I would never diminsh the tragedy of thousands of lives lost.”

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