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America February 20, 2008
Northern Ill. University Massacre: A Story of Bleakness & Madness
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 5 of 5 1 more photos

If you're wondering why Kazmierczak transferred out of NIU to the University of Illinois-Champaign last spring, these bloggers presented a pretty solid case; if you're wondering, as many bloggers have, why he'd come back and shoot up NIU rather than his current university, these sentiments are at least worth considering. UI-Champagne, unlike NIU, does have a good reputation and a nice campus.

Before going off to college, Kazmierczak grew up a Chicago suburb called Elk Grove Village. Located on the edge of Chicago's hyper-busy O'Hare Airport, Elk Grove Village has a modest population of roughly 40,000 almost all-white middle-class citizens (mostly German and Polish stock), yet it hosts, as it proudly boasts, the largest consolidated business park in North America. Packed into its humble 5.4 square miles are 3,800 business, hosting over 100,000 workers servicing O'Hare Airport alone, and several Interstate highways taking endless container trucks into the maze of wall-to-wall giant flat-roofed warehouse structures, and mid-sized cars to the corporate offices and, yes, one-story suburban tract homes. The region used to be home to many elk, hence the name; today, on the outskirts of town, a small patch of wood contains a few token elk as a kind of selling point. The city's website includes a petition from the town elders begging O'Hare Airport not to carry out current plans to add and extend more runways because the noise from the jets flying overhead is already beyond intolerable.

Two years ago, Kazmierczak's parents moved from their Elk Grove Village tract home to Florida, where his mother finally died after years of suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease, which kills its victims slowly and painfully.

Scratching the surface of his life, a very familiar, flat sort of American Hell, makes his need for medications a bit more understandable, as is the case for the millions of Americans like him who take psychiatric medication. Indeed, someone who wouldn't turn to antidepressants if condemned to this kind of life would seem, in my opinion, to be rather dull and insensitive, or downright sick.

If we bracket Kazmierczak's massacre as the work of an evil lunatic on drugs, we'll miss yet another opportunity to genuinely examine what life is like for most Americans today, who live in that vast, terrifying chasm between the official propaganda about a nation of happy fun-loving Number Ones, and the reality of mediocrity, petty malice, and a flat physical setting that reflects the malice and mediocrity and miserliness of its town elders.

A version of this article appeared in

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