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Monday, September 24, 2007

Children's Museum and Racism?

That's what Mayor Daley keeps implying (no, wait, he's blatantly shouting it) - that opposition to moving the Children's Museum from its current smaller location at Navy Pier to a larger space in Grant Park constitutes as racism. That opposing the placement of a new and expanded Children's Museum in Grant Park automatically means that you fear a horde of minority children and poor people cluttering up the rich white folks' neighborhood.

Well, Daley - such is not the case, and it makes YOU the racist. Or at least a sellout.

The real brainchild behind this is Jean Pritzker, the billionaire president of the board of the Children's Museum. What it all assuredly comes down to is that the expanded museum allows for more customers coming in at $8 a head, and the location allows for lots of public-transportation-fed customers as well as ample parking for those who are more likely to waste $8 a person to enter a Children's Museum.

You all know that I'm a capitalist and a realist (which I think equates to a cynic), but I'm definitely siding with Alderman Reilly on this one, because my sense of tradition and opposition to hypocrisy outweigh the acceptance of another rich person just wanting to get richer. The main argument being made on his side of the campaign to keep the museum out is certainly NOT one of racism - it's legal precedence. Grant Park has had a 171-year history of being legally protected from these kinds of construction projects. That protection was made in 1836, and has been reaffirmed four times by the Illinois Supreme Court: that Grant Park be formally protected as "Public Ground -- A Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of any Buildings, or other Obstruction Whatever."

It's as simple as that. End of argument. Case closed. No museum, kthxbye.

Daley, do you think that this museum, funded and led by your billionaire friend, is the best opportunity that Grant Park has seen? There have been dozens of projects proposed for that parcel of land - and all of them have been turned down. If they hadn't been turned down, there would be no Grant Park left other than the name itself, and that doesn't sound like a place that is "forever open, clear and free of any buildings" at all - does it?

Reilly isn't alone in this fight, either. Some aldermen are joining the cause because Reilly is right about the legal precedence, and generous enough to offer suggestions of other places WITHOUT the legal protection that Grant Park has where the new museum could be built. Some are joining purely because Daley is throwing his weight around and vetoing the decision. This ruffles the feathers of some of the other City Council members, since city projects in THEIR wards have almost always been at THEIR discretion (though it's usually an emphatic "yes") and having that decision power vetoed by the Mayor is causing a disturbance among the aldermen. Some are probably just joining in anger of Daley throwing around his racism accusations when there obviously is none.

Here's a sample of what Daley has been saying:

"You mean you don't want children from the city in Grant Park? Why? Are they black? Are they white? Are they Hispanic? Are they poor? You don't want children? We have children in Grant Park all the time. This is a park for the entire city. What do you mean no one wants children down there? Why not? Wouldn't you want children down there?"

If I may, now that most of the factual information has been presented, I'd like to address the mayor's questions in my usual rant-like and mildly-offensive manner:

Leave the race out of it, Daley, and maybe you'll learn something. No, we don't all want children around. In fact, I'd probably be voting to keep kid-friendly buildings out of my neighborhood. Why? Because they're (in general) whiny, obnoxious brats who cause disturbances in peaceful places - never completely satisfied and always ready to verbalize that at any given point in time, appropriate or not. "Are they poor?" Of course they're poor, they're children! They don't have money to contribute to society! In fact, humans are the species with the WORST duration of time between birth and being able to contribute back to the community. It takes us, on average, nineteen years. If a lion cub took nineteen years to make satisfactory contributions back to the pack, it would surely have been eaten in the process. Children may be our future, but they certainly don't make it seem like it'll be a bright future. And they are certainly NOT our greatest resource. Our greatest resource is probably money. Not children.

And before you get all "my child is the bestest ever and the cutest too" on me, I'm sure it is. To YOU. If Heaven is in the eyes of your children, then I can say without a doubt that Hell is in the eyes of OTHER people's children. They're not all smart, they're not all cute, and they're definitely not all "precious" - all reasons why I wouldn't want an influx of them in my neighborhood, Daley!

So let's keep the Children's Museum where it is - over at Navy Pier with the other kid-friendly attractions, so I know exactly where to avoid running into your children. I'm sure you'd agree it's for the best, parents.

(Article saying it's racism)
(Article saying it's not racism)
(Someone who seems to really get the idea)

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