When I heard about Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s disgusting and irresponsible remarks in the New Yorker magazine under the provocative and sick headline “Drop Dead, Detroit,” about Michigan’s largest city, I could not believe it.
At first I thought maybe Patterson had just returned from Colorado where pot was recently legalized for anyone 21 and older.
I was moderating the launch of an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration at the North American International Auto Show when I began receiving text messages about Patterson’s comments regarding Detroit.
Until I read his exact diabolical quotes, published interestingly on MLK Day, a time when we are all supposed to come together and trump every racial divide, I didn’t want to believe that Patterson would step out in the glare of the national media at this time of Detroit’s crucial resurgence, and heap so much hateful diatribe on the city next door to him.
“What we’re going to do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it, and then throw in the blankets and corn,” Patterson said in the New Yorker, noting that was his prediction of Detroit has, in fact, come to pass.
Some in the GOP have made all kinds of comments about women, gays, the unemployed and those on food stamps. But these are the worst remarks that have been made so far in the nation by any Republican.
Reservations evoke memories of neglect, social subjugation, inferiority, ostracism and displacement forcommunities whose ancestors have such a sordid history.
For a man like Patterson, one of the most powerful politicians in this region who claims to extol the virtues of freedom and liberty, as the darling of the Republican Party in Michigan, to say Detroit is already much like an Indian reservation shows how much disdain Patterson has long had for Detroit. It further indicates how much race and racism permeate at the highest levels of our governments and are still embedded in our society.
To liken Detroit to a reservation is full-fledged racial bigotry.
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