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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Breaking down the chatter

It seems that lately all you have to do is say something will turn out like the never-completed subway, the stadiums, The Banks, or the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and your position of opposition immediately gains some sort of credibility. I don't get it.

The connections are normally weak at best, and the projects are so incredibly different. What's most disturbing though are the criticisms of the Freedom Center. Ever heard someone refer to the museum as a "handout?" Have you ever heard people criticize crimes committed by blacks in one sentence and then suggest turning the Freedom Center into a prison to solve Cincinnati's jail overcrowding in the next?

I have, and on more than one occasion. I find it very surprising that this seemingly in your face racism is tolerated in public dialogue. People talk about the museum as being a drain on taxpayer dollars. Well guess what, it is quite typical for museums and other cultural institutions to receive public aid. Why single out this one institution over the others?

So while I'm upset that people use the museum as a way to somehow predict failure for other unrelated projects in an anecdotal fashion, I am even more upset that the overtly racist tone of those comments is even tolerated in the first place. We're better than that Cincinnati.

10 comments:

Evan said...

I think the reason that people are so hesitant to foot the bill for the Freedom Center is because we were told back in 2002 that they would not ask for public money to keep them afloat.

Yes, the museum is important, but what reaction should the public have when they are told repeatedly that no public money will be asked for, then the museum ask for almost $4 million?

While some of the resistance may be coming from racism, a good chunk of it is coming from people that are tired of being lied to, and having to foot the bill for that lie.

And no, Cincinnati really isn't above bigoted statements. Most of the people here are ignorant hayseeds. To expect anything different it like expecting the dog to have a souffle cooked for you when you get home. It will never happen because it is something they simply can't do.

Radarman said...

To slog through the comments on the Enquirer site and the Cincinnati sites is to understand that the vitriolic anti-city comments come from the inner suburbs, the blue-collar townships, and the exurban fringe. Racism figures in these comments, but there is as much economic resentment as anything. I do wish there were some automatic tagging device to highlight comments about the city made by people who do not live in the city proper and do not vote in city elections. It would be a reminder to readers.

CityKin said...

It has to be a pretty dismal boring day to get me to start reading those inane comments left at the Enquirer.

ekalb said...

About the only time I read the Enquirer is if someone in the Cincy blogsphere provides a link.

Anonymous said...

Ahh! You guys are so lucky! Sometimes I just can't stay away from the online comments section. It's like I enjoy getting really angry at computer personalities.

Also, this was a well written piece and a good point Randy.

-John

Sherman Cahal said...

I believe that if the museum existed in some fashion for a great number of years beforehand, and was a popular tourist attraction, then I could see the need to justify the cost of a much larger, and opulent facility. You don't construct a massive facility dedicated to one purpose and expect it to immediately draw in large crowds; "build it and they will come" may have been the mantra for the 20th century, but we now know better.

That said, I've been in the Freedom Center, and while I was 'wowed' and 'ooohed', I found no reason to return. I also found it to be slightly lacking in context, I suppose because the museum had that 'new' feeling.

I actually prefer the smaller Underground Railroad Museum in Maysville, that has more in-depth exhibits. It's also cheaper and in a restored house, and is a fairly new cultural attraction.

Anonymous said...

The Freedom Center is a really nice place but it does suffer from being in a poor location with the Banks just now under construction. I do agree that there are overtly racist comments associated with it though and when companies like Clear Channel tolerate a flaming bigot like Bill Cunningham to spew his racism on the air then it's no surprise that people parrot this sort of vitriol on the Enquirer comment section.

I think a lot of what your seeing is suburbia reeling its head. Much like those who see the streetcar as a waste, they probably only come to Cincy for a Reds game and never venture past the ballpark. It's sad but the most ignorant are usually the ones to speak the loudest.

Tamia said...

Sigh. Welcome to Cincinnati.

Ronny said...

Randy, I think the problem with the museum center is just how much public money is required, how dishonest those marketing it and running have been and just how short of predictions it fell. I've done some work on various photography projects that the freedom center was also involved in. When you compare their staff to those of the Cincinnati Zoo, Kings Island and Newport Aquarium, other major tourist attractions in the area, incompetent is the first word that comes to mind.

Now, who exactly mentioned turning it into a jail? Seems like a good idea to me! I kid, I kid.

jfd said...

A casino, not a jail!

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