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About the Children, Won't Somebody Think?

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 18, 2007 8:17PM

It was about time Mayor Daley entered the fray surrounding the Chicago Children’s Museum’s proposed move to Grant Park. To exactly no one’s surprise, he favors the plan. Loves it so much he’s enlisted his good buddies false choice and specious reasoning.

children_2007_09.jpgMake no mistake: if you oppose the Museum’s move to Grant Park, you hate children. You want them to grow up miserable, lacking any sense of civic pride or patriotism, addicted to meth, and attending conventions for third-party candidates. (OK, we made up that last part...)

But, in the Mayor’s estimation, you might also be racist. He told reporters yesterday, "You mean, you don't want children from the city in Grant Park? Why? Are they black, white, Hispanic? Are they poor? You don't want children? We have children in Grant Park all the time." We're filing this one under Things Mayor Daley Says That Do Not Make Sense. That folder is ... pretty full. "You mean somebody's gonna say we don't want poor kids in Lincoln Park, we're gonna close the zoo down? That is a disgrace. Grant Park belongs to the people of the City of Chicago," Daley added. Mommy, our brain hurts!

Over at the Beachwood Reporter, Cate Plys lays out a solid debunking of Daley's claims:

... to buy into [Daley's racism-is-behind-this theory], one must believe some manifestly untrue points:
  • That the Children's Museum is and will be largely patronized by needy children, rather than the mainly middle-class and wealthy people one generally sees there;
  • That the Museum of Science and Industry and the Field Museum don't offer vastly superior exhibits for children, anyway;
  • That no other parcel of land in the entire city is available, and if the Children's Museum can't move to Grant Park, it will spontaneously wink out of existence;
  • That when Grant Park was declared "Forever Open, Clear and Free" in 1836, a declaration buttressed by four subsequent Illinois Supreme Court rulings, they just forgot to add "except the Chicago Children's Museum";
  • That the only possible reason to oppose the Grant Park move, then, is to keep underprivileged kids away from high-rise dwellers, which is simply code for keeping blacks away from rich whites, and;
  • That the Children's Museum is not itself an institution backed by extremely wealthy and clout-heavy people — even though Allstate Insurance has already pledged $15 million toward construction of a new home, and the museum's chairman is Gigi Pritzker Pucker.

We've already laid out our take on keeping Grant Park a park and moving the Museum to the South Loop. In his blog this morning, Lynn Becker reminds us once again of the threat to “Forever Free and Clear’s” 171-year legacy. And if you haven’t seen Becker’s piece about the Grant Park Advisory Council in this week's Reader, it’s a must-read.

Mr. Becker's salient point: "The debate comes down to this: are we still committed to open land?" So, Mr. Mayor, are we?

Children statue image via wallyg.
Thanks to Margaret for contributing to this post!

UPDATE: Don't agree? Email us your best defense of the Museum's plan. We'll include the best contributions in next week's post.