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It's Always Easy to Blame the Daleys

By Chuck Sudo in Miscellaneous on Nov 28, 2007 7:30PM

2007_11_bream.jpgTwo weeks ago, in what was considered a rare act of humility, Japanese Emperor Akihito apologized to his countrymen, taking responsibility for a bluegill infestation that's wreaked havoc on Japan's ecosystem by bringing home a pair of the fish from a trip to the States nearly fifty years ago. "Bluegills are the ones I brought back from the U.S. some 50 years ago and donated to a Fisheries Agency research institute", Akihito said. "In those days, we had high expectations of raising them for food, and I'm deeply troubled by how it turned out."

Where did the emperor get the bream? From the Shedd Aquarium, as a gift from Mayor Richard J. Daley. Since blaming the Daleys for our woes - real or imagined - is en vogue these days, it prompted Tribune columnist John Kass to ask our current mayor to make amends to Akihito for the bluegill infestation. Options ranged from pulling Chicago out of consideration for the 2016 Summer Olympics in favor of endorsing Tokyo's bid to what Kass calls "the "Mayoral Pinkie option". Inspired by the Yakuza practice of repaying debts of honor by lopping off part of the pinky finger, Kass (jokingly, we assume) suggested His Elective Majesty do the same, and send the severed knuckle to Akihito as penance.

The problem with this little bit of satire is that the bluegill infestation in Japan is not the fault of the Daleys or even Akihito (who's a highly regarded ichthyologist), but the researchers who released the bluegill into Japan's rivers. If anyone should be lopping off pinkies, it's them. For that matter, we don't see Kass demanding the descendants of Harry S Truman pay the debts of honor for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That would seem a hell of a lot worse than a bluegill infestation and probably require more than a pinky as payment. Bream can be caught and eaten. Besides, we've had to deal with Asian carp in our rivers and the Asian long-horned beetle tearing away at our trees. Why not just call it even?