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He talked about those problems, but didn't stop there. He noted that, according to the Global Economic Power Index, Chicago remains the sixth most-powerful city in the world. Its economic diversity, he maintained, will help protect it from the fate of bankrupt Detroit.

But — and this was his most significant, original point — he noted a problem with that diversity.

While diversity has helped Chicago survive into the post-industrial era, he said, "it's also left the very real question as to what exactly Chicago does now."

Washington does politics. LA does entertainment. Seattle does high-tech.

But Chicago? What do we do here now? Who are we?

I think that void in Chicago's identity is another reason the stories of our worst aspects have lately come to define the city in the minds of so many people.

We need a new dominant identity that helps put the very real problems into proportion.

That's all the Chicago Defense League wants: perspective and proportion.

Membership comes with a complimentary flak jacket.