Monday, October 27, 2008

A great city has a great NFL team? Titans' Monday Night Football win needs definite perspective

Last decade, Nashville leaders successfully sold a new initiative to taxpayers with the slogan, "A great city has a great library."

And Nashville got a new downtown library as a sign that the Music City was a progressive place.

Tonight's win by the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football and before a national TV audience was certainly exciting. And what appears to be a dream season for a very deserving team continues along with an unbeaten record.

But the victory needs perspective as to what it says about Nashville and any claim it has to being a progressive place to live. It's not.

Truly great cities like New York and Chicago also have great libraries. But their greatness and progressive place in American society are not dependent on how welll the Bears or the Giants or the Jets do each NFL season. Nor does the image of these cities rise and fall with the Cubs, White Sox, Yankees and Mets -- all of which did not make this year's World Series.

The greatness of cities and the push for progress depends on the plight of the most vulnerable as children and senior citizens, how people of all colors and classes are treated by the justice and law enforcement systems and the availability of safe, decent and affordable places for all families to live and prosper.

By these measures, and not the record of an NFL team, does a city attain greatness in the eyes of people and leaders across the country who push a progressive agenda and run corporations with diverse workforces.

Again, the Titans deserve all the plaudits and more. But many of the fans who filled LP Field tonight will be returning home to their suburban counties where the tax base is used primarily for schools and not pro sports teams.

Yes, these good people have been wonderfully entertained, but they know what makes a better and safer community for their families. And that's why they don't live in Nashville anymore.

In Nashville, the schools are about to be taken over by the state of Tennessee for failure of city leaders to properly and fairly educate every child under standards demanded by the No Child Left Behind Act. Schools in Memphis are under no such threat.

In Nashville, voters will soon approve an amendment to the city's charter to make English the official language of Metro business. Immigrants who do not speak English well enough will have to make do in emergencies and in receiving services for the taxpaying businesses they run.

In Nashville, the law enforcement and justice systems continue to receive complaints from African-Americans and people of Hispanic descent for unfair treatment -- from the planting of drugs on young people who give themselves up to pregnant women tortured under custody during childbirth.

In Nashville, supposedly progressive Democrats from the mayor to the congressman remain silent about abuses that would shock the national party and its presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

In Nashville, the city's treasure of intelligence, experise and leadership -- Vanderbilt University -- has been cut off politically from helping resolve the city's education woes and outrages in its law enforcement and justice systems.

A great city?

Not Nashville, yet.

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