Sunday, January 09, 2011

The false choices of a nostalgic Tennessean columnist

Gail Kerr poses the Fairgrounds friend to get to her misleading point that advocates of the Fairgrounds advocate doing nothing:

Surely ... fairground supporters do not really believe that it's good government for city leaders to sit back and do nothing purely to preserve nostalgia. Imagine what downtown Nashville would look like today if that had been the policy over the past three decades.

I loved Fair Park. It closed down years ago, of course. They finally had to tear down the rotting, termite-eaten roller coaster.

But no one can tear down my memories.

Beyond Ms. Kerr's strawman fallacies, Fairgrounds supporters have asked Metro government over and over again for renovations and improvements to the parkland. Those requests have been neglected and ignored. The Mayor is only recently getting around to Brown's Creek mitigation and redevelopment proposals, and it took a 1,000 flood to prompt him to consider that.

In the end, even if we accept news media premises that progress must be made at the Fairgrounds rather than doing nothing, why should we accept that Karl Dean's sell-off of public land to private real estate interests is the best means of wrecking rotten roller coasters?

1 comment:

  1. The biggest problem with Ms. Kerr's editorial is that it dangerously runs the risk of reducing the term "historic" to "nostalgic." If we begin to define the past as little more than preserving a memory, like a bad NPT documentary, then the importance of historic resources will be based solely on their value as a contemporary attraction, and that value will change depending on the political or economic climate. Memories can be dangerous, because no two people remember the past the same way. That's exactly what happened after the Civil War with the memory of the institution of slavery. Some Southerners looked back on it with nostalgia, not for the inherent conflict it had with creating a modern, democratic society, but that it was benevolent and ordered. Historic and nostalgic are two wholly different animals, thank goodness, and let's keep it that way and not reduce our debate over the fairgrounds to less than the legitimate concerns we might be destroying an historic resource that could have significant cultural value beyond the need for generating revenue for Metro's coffers.