Friday, May 18, 2018

Obama no longer the ‘community activist’ of old, he IS the establishment

It always manages to amuse me whenever people talk about Barack Obama as some sort of leftist radical who’s out to subvert everything they hold dear about this country.

The image some would like to have of Obama
Largely because Obama himself is so much a part of the establishment of our society – except for those ideologues with intense racial hang-ups who can’t ever accept someone of his ilk as belonging.

SO I CAN’T say I’m surprised by the opposition that has arisen to the development in Jackson Park of an Obama Presidential Center – or the fact that city officials gave the concept their overwhelming approval on Thursday.

I’m sure there are those who think that the Obama of a third of a century ago who arrived in Chicago after an East Coast establishment education (Columbia in New York, and later Harvard Law in Cambridge, Mass.) would have been amongst those who would have challenged what they want to perceive as the destruction of a South Side neighborhood – all for something that “outsiders” would come to visit.

Although I’d say anybody who had the type of education Obama had probably would have been amongst those leading the project’s development – in hopes that all those outsiders/tourists would give the neighborhood surrounding the park a jolt.

Regardless, the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday gave its support to the idea of a facility paying tribute to the eight years that Barack answered to the title of “Mr. President.”

NOT THAT THIS resolves anything. It’s merely a “first step,” The city’s zoning board will still have to review the technical issues of whether such a facility can be permitted at that specific site on park land.

The full City Council also will have to take a vote on whether to approve an agreement by which the Obama Center would lease the land from the city. There’s also the fact that federal officials will have a say because the Jackson Park site is of significance as it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The way 'others' want to think

What with the fact the World’s Fair of 1893 – an official celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas and an unofficial event celebrating the city’s full recovery from the great fire of 1871 – having been held there.

Technically, one could argue that Obama, with his plans to erect buildings with a museum and library, is defacing a historic site.

BUT NONE OF that seemed to interest the officials who gave their approval. They may not have the lengthiest timespan for appreciating history, or maybe they think the election of Obama as the nation’s first non-white official to become U.S. president is a historic-enough event to want to pay tribute to.

Anyway, it puts Chicago city officials as being on the record for wanting this project here – even though I don’t doubt there are some people who oppose the idea because they’d rather have nothing built that pays tribute to Obama.

They’re the kind who are inclined to believe in this Age of Trump that we ought to erase all traces that the nearby Hyde Park neighborhood ever produced someone who rose to the level of the Oval Office.

While others are just close-minded enough and have grown used to having nothing of any significance in their home neighborhood. Of course, they’ll also complain about the fact that no one invests in their neighborhood, but it seems they’d rather complain instead of trying to do something to change.

THEY, I SUSPECT, were the ones who gathered at City Hall hours before the Plan Commission hearing began so they could hold simultaneous pickets, both for and against the idea of an Obama Center.
The presidential center, as envisioned by the Obama Foundation

They also were the ones who spent several hours during Thursday’s hearing making their objections known, and probably thinking they were disrespected by the commission – which likely had its mind made up even before the hearing.

So now we take baby steps toward development of the 19-acre site, which supposedly will have an eight-story museum tower, a forum building with auditorium and a third building that will be used, in part, as a Chicago Public Library branch.

What’s most ironic about all this fuss is that this WON’T actually be where the documents recording the Obama Administration will be stored. Those will be kept elsewhere, at a facility that most likely will rival the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Grand Rapids, Mich., as having the lowest levels of public interest.


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