There’s been a lot of talk about privilege lately.
As these things go, the most privileged among us tend to not understand (or at least not care to understand) the arguments of those who fight over their table scraps. Sometimes they even pull that privilege out of their pockets, roll it up like a magazine, and smack the public silly with it.
Take, for example, David D’Alessandro. Unlike the nonprofits that regularly pitch the Boston Globe editorial board with little luck, or any of the other powerless pedestrians among us, the former John Hancock Financial Services CEO has the ability to publish an op-ed in the paper of record, and last week used that platform to broadcast a view of affairs so shamelessly cosmopolitan, so utterly removed from Boston’s on-ground reality, that one can only assume D’Alessandro recited it to an assistant while flipping off poor people through the rare mahogany window of a Gulfstream. From his rant, actually titled “Why we [ed.: he means “YOU”] should relax about Boston’s Olympic bid”:
As someone who has been to virtually every Olympic Games since 1988, who used to head a company that was an international Olympic sponsor, who in the past has expressed doubts about a Boston Olympics, and who once held the International Olympic Committee’s feet to the fire for a stunningly corrupt bidding process, I have one word for the critics of a Boston bid: Relax.
Can you believe the brass on Montgomery Burns over here? Did D’Alessandro bet the guys in his Saturday foursome that he could write a screed obnoxious enough to incite mass revolts? The public’s tolerance for being screwed in plain sight around here is extraordinary; nevertheless, there’s definitely energy fomenting in the opposite direction as well, and so in preparation for Monday’s Boston Globe discussion at the ICA and the preceding #NOBOSTON2024 protest, here’s an abridged history of things to scream about when expressing outrage toward the elite cadre of megalomaniacs behind Boston 2024, as told through the five points of D’Alessandro’s Friday missive (in bold).
1. The details of the bid will change.
No shit they will. In fact they already have. Nobody knows very much about that, though, since we haven’t been asked or even told. From the Globe’s explanation of why they have had to lead this conversation rather than the city or the primary operating interests:
A special commission, convened by the Legislature, held a series of public hearings at the State House before it issued a feasibility study in February. But since this summer, when Boston made the short list of American cities that might be put up for a 2024 bid, much of the open debate that Olympics boosters have been promising — neighborhood meetings, modeling demonstrations — has yet to materialize.
2. Vladimir Putin is not in the State House or City Hall.
No. He isn’t. But a bunch of schmucks on Beacon Hill are, and, among countless other offenses, they voted former big dick-swinger Sal DiMasi back into the speakership in spite of a looming indictment. They can’t be trusted. Hilariously, though, even they’re not foolish enough to buy into gold medal fantasies. It will actually be funny to watch lawmakers from outside of Route 128 get off their spoiled asses for a change to rail Boston 2024. It will also be hilarious, of course, since any number of them would gladly take a breather from masturbating various casino interests if the IOC had eyes for their districts.
3. The new Olympic leadership is remarkably progressive.
Stop making us laugh. We almost choked on our little chocolate donuts.
Nobody involved in the history of the Olympics in any way, shape, or form could feasibly be categorized as progressive unless we were parsing thoughtless dipshits into groups according to their car insurance providers. With that said, the region is pretty progressive, and as such you can probably expect more than a few people to show up in the Innovation District Monday night.
4. In Boston, a city where everyone wants progress, but few embrace change, the Games could spur some much-needed action. The lack of affordable housing in metropolitan Boston is clearly a crisis. What if the Olympic Village could be used after the Games as 10,000 affordable housing units?
Makes sense. Because why would we ever assume that the forces angling to bulldoze dozens of brick and mortar businesses wish anything but the best for the low income residents of Boston. From a recent piece about the circling vultures:
As a private entity, the Olympics group lacks the authority to force out the wholesalers if they refuse to sell. However, the city could take the properties by eminent domain and allow Olympic organizers to build an arena there, as it did 45 years ago when it cleared the meatpackers out of Quincy Market.
5. If Boston decides to host the Games, it is likely to stick the landing beautifully. We may not have Los Angeles’s glitter or Paris’s wide boulevards or Istanbul’s exotic look, but we have more important things to offer the Olympic Games: Walkability and charm, the brains and taste to manage the Games well, and a really unusual civic cohesiveness.
Is this guy asking us out on a date or something? And if he is, are we allowed to leave? Do we have any input in the situation? Or are we just going to wake up with his Olympic balls stuck to our foreheads, hungover from visions of dancing dressage horses and walkable cohesiveness?
Finally, the Globe has done some phenomenal work on the Olympics so far, and has also published garbage even fouler than the aforementioned plutocratic manifesto. They’re to be commended for hosting Monday’s forum, but commentary like the following assumes a foregone conclusion, and in this specific instance belittles the opposition:
A full-throated, open discussion about venues, logistics, and costs would have the benefit of building up support, and letting dissenters feel as if they’ve have been heard — rather than creating the sense that neighborhoods and businesses will simply be swept up in the juggernaut.
Whether it’s in friendly terms like those, or coming from an Olympic world traveler condescendingly telling the people of Boston to relax, one thing is clear: People who stand to benefit from Boston 2024, whether financially or in pure status and ego points, want you to keep calm and carry on.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.