Enough with the condescension about Arlington
04/12/2014 12:00 AM
04/12/2014 6:43 AM
I don’t know what it is about some national media types who come to town for a big event in one of Arlington’s world-class sports venues and use the occasion to produce snarky and condescending articles about the city — but I’m real tired of it.
The latest affront came in the form of a commentary from some guy who writes for a media outlet that I’ve never heard of and yet has managed to draw considerable attention around the area, obviously just as it was intended.
The writer, whose name and website I will not identify because I don’t want to create any more traffic for him, arrived for a big basketball weekend inside AT&T Stadium and proceeded to sully the town that made the place, and the events that happen there, possible.
There are some people who read the article and thought it was OK. Maybe so, in parts of it, but behind those nicer references were deliberate and calculated descriptions that were in no way meant to be complimentary.
Among the most egregious things, as an example, was how the writer described Arlington’s most famous person. He called legendary Mayor Tom Vandergriff a small person with slicked-back back hair and deliberately abused Tom’s self-deprecating style of leadership.
Thus the shameful writer set the tone of Arlington’s five decades of pursuing impossible dreams by painting a false picture of the city as a bunch of beggars.
His approach was to engage in long conversations with a few high-profile locals, including a driving tour with a couple of them, and then use some of their obviously out-of-context comments to support what appears to be a predetermined negative characterization of the city.
I draw conclusions about his motives after talking with a couple of the folks he spent a lot of time with. Described as a friendly guy just wanting to get a feel for Arlington, his long discussions produced quotes he could use to validate his cynical remarks.
That Arlington is the envy of cities across the country for attracting some 8 million visitors every year and for hosting both Major League Baseball and the National Football League seemed to escape this guy’s notice.
Or maybe it didn’t and he just wanted to dismiss the city as somehow unworthy of all that has been accomplished, since he concluded that Arlington was just a place where people were passing through on their way to somewhere else.
He called the city a “way station.”
I share this bit of a rant not so much because of my own irritation with his trivialization of the country’s 50th largest city, but because of how offensive it must be to many thousands who embrace Arlington with a sense of civic pride that reveals itself so clearly in what the city has become.
It was, after all, up to them to decide about taxing themselves — not once but twice — to support the public-private partnerships that built the Rangers Ballpark and Jerry World.
The writer did, however, sort of join the local chorus rejecting the moniker of “North Texas” as a way to describe the area where Arlington is located. We need the Cowboys owner to help protect the city’s identity and insist that sports and news reporters get it right.
With all his power, influence and money, Jerry Jones could require from each of his renters that they use Arlington’s name in their advertising and promotional materials.
He should also remind national broadcasters before every game and every other kind of event to say “Arlington” and not anything else.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. firstname.lastname@example.org
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