Monday, April 07, 2008

David Zirin

Every few days I wonder which David Zirin article I should link to. Here's his latest on the new stadium for the Washington Nationals:

While Boswell and Fisher were given prime column real estate to gush [about the Nationals in the Washington Post], columnist Sally Jenkins didn't even get a corner of comics page. It's understandable why Jenkins, the 2002 AP sports columnist of the year, didn't get to play. Four years ago, she refused to gush: "While you're celebrating the deal to bring baseball back to Washington, understand just what it is you're getting: a large publicly financed stadium and potential sinkhole to house a team that's not very good, both of which may cost you more than you bargained for and be of questionable benefit to anybody except the wealthy owners and players. But tell that to baseball romantics, or the mayor and his people, and they act like you just called their baby ugly. It's lovely to have baseball in Washington again. But the deal that brings the Montreal Expos to Washington is an ugly baby."

Jenkins words have come to pass. But this isn't just an "ugly baby", it's Rosemary's baby. It's $611 million of tax payer money in a city that has become a ground zero of economic segregation and gentrification. $611 million over majority opposition of taxpayers and even the city council. $611 million in a city set to close down a staggering twenty-four public schools.

That's $611 million, a mere five months after a mayor commissioned study found that the District's poverty rate was the highest it had been in a decade and African-American unemployment was 51 percent. That's $611 million, in a city where the libraries shut down early and the Metro rusts over. That's a living, throbbing, reminder that the vote-deprived District of Columbia doesn't even rest on the pretense of democracy. This isn't just taxation without representation. It's a monument of avarice that will clear the working poor out of the Southeast corner of the city as surely as if they just dispensed with the baseball and used a bulldozer. This is sports as ethnic and economic cleansing, as Hurricane Katrina, as Shock Doctrine, as Green Zone. Fittingly, Fisher wrote, President George W. Bush came out to throw the first pitch. Fittingly, he was roundly booed. He stood tall on the mound nonetheless, proudly oblivious, taking center stage yet again in what can only be described as occupied territory. (Source)

Indeed. Who else is going to remind us of this? Something tells me all those really "tough" guys on ESPN will forget to mention the booing, the real price tag, the oppression and the repression in our dilapidated capital. It baffles me how the owners could suck some 600 million out of a city that has nothing but problems. Actually, it doesn't baffle me, it just continues to shock me in spite of my repeated exposure to the crimes of the elite.

No, there was nothing organic or natural about this return of baseball, a sport increasingly reliant on fans that are white and immigrant labor that is not. Baseball, a miror image of our politics and racial divides.