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Leaving Detroit. What Happened to a City Once Improbably Called : "The Paris of the Midwest."
American Thinker ^ | 04/19/2011 | Matthew May

Posted on 04/19/2011 7:05:31 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

If you leave on the freeway well before dawn, when the early morning is dark, the skyline seems as magnificently inspiring as most any other American city -- beckoning the bold and ambitious to follow in the footsteps of the giants who, in the process of building an industry and a country, constructed what once was known improbably as "The Paris of the Midwest."

If you leave on the freeway well before dawn, when the early morning is dark, you cannot see the burned out houses that stretch for miles.  The rotting buildings in neighborhoods that appear war-torn are invisible.  It is possible to imagine what it once was and perhaps could be once more.  But then the sun shines on the city of Detroit and your heart is broken, and you remember why leaving for other climes might be a good idea.

Much was made in Detroit about the unprecedented two-minute ad on which Chrysler spent millions of dollars (yours, mine, theirs?) during the most recent Super Bowl.  It featured rapper Eminem driving along Woodward Avenue in a new 200 while the voiceover artist declared that, because the city has been to hell and back, Detroiters know a little something about luxury cars, about toughness, about perseverance.

Chrysler and Eminem produced a great commercial.  For two minutes, Detroiters of every age and race may have nodded their heads and felt a surge of pride for their hometown that pulsated with the beat.  Some exhibited the bizarre, insatiable need for national validation of any kind by shedding tears of joy or cheering.

Already inclined to hail news of a few dozen new jobs somewhere near the city limits as a sign of significant recovery, city boosters, Pavlov-like, glommed upon the commercial as evidence that the rest of the country would suddenly begin to take Detroit seriously and the Motor City's journey to hell and back would be complete.  Paris of the Midwest would return in no time because a two-minute spot made it so.  Too many ascribed talismanic qualities to an advertisement, a slogan.

Such enthusiasm for a magical "comeback" for Detroit is nothing new.  In the 1970s and 80s, the mantra was "Say nice things about Detroit."  Detroit was "The Renaissance City."  Race-baiting mayor Coleman Young even permitted the devil Republicans to hold their 1980 national convention here so as to show the world that the then-Murder Capital of the World wasn't so bad.  Neither party has been back since.

Another Super Bowl, Super Bowl XL in 2006, would be the key, and then the 2009 Final Four.  The area around the stadium showed extremely well, but as everyone knew, those were fleeting days of glory and revenue.  The shows packed up and left.  The current campaign -- aside from Chrysler's ad -- is "I'm a Believer," featuring local celebrities and Mayor Bing on billboards and local television ads declaring their belief in the city.  The why or how is seemingly unimportant.  Detroit has witnessed more stunted comebacks than Notre Dame football.  But there is a reason the comebacks never materialize.

American Thinker readers may remember the story of the murder of Marcus Coleman, who had been the mailman in my neighborhood for a long time.  This giant of a man with an equally big personality and love of God and love of life was gunned down by a thug in the middle of an attempted robbery of Marcus's mother's house.  Marcus, who no longer lived in the city but often went to check in on his mom, was shot in the back and died. 

It's true Marcus was just one man.  But his story is too often the rule in the neighborhoods of Detroit, not the exception.  The salient aspect of his killing is not wanton gun violence.  The weapon was merely the instrument that ended his life.  The salient aspect of his death is the culture of death and destruction that has been eroding Detroit for decades.  Marcus, an honest man who brought much happiness on his route and certainly to his friends and family, was not a human being to the punk who assassinated him.  He was merely an object, no more animate than a locked door or a closed window, standing in the way of not even a few pieces of silver.

Massive volumes could be written about such mayhem within the city limits.  A few days before the magical Super Bowl ad aired, a gunman jumped the front desk of a police precinct and, because of a miracle and some adroit shooting by the cops, the animal was put down without killing anyone.  Just days after the Super Bowl ad aired, an elderly man who, despite the crumbling neighborhood around him, stubbornly refused to leave his eastside home, was murdered along with his son by a teenager in the process of stealing the father's handgun.  Those who do not possess basic human values do not value any life.  It too often seems that Detroit has more of such beings per capita than anywhere else in the country.

It is simply, in many Detroit neighborhoods, kill or be killed.  The horrific schools full or corruption and neglect, the crime-ridden streets, and collapsing abandoned houses stand as literal and figurative dungeons in which occur murder, rape, and battery on a regular basis, the seeds and product of Third World barbarism in what was once the arsenal of democracy.

Yet what can be expected in a culture wherein, driving along the freeways, motorists can observe decals on bumpers and rear windshields that depict the olde English D -- the unofficial logo of the city -- as a brass knuckle?  Or similar car art that appears to simply spell out Detroit -- until one notices the r is fashioned as a revolver.  For every bumper sticker proclaiming "I Lift Detroit in Prayer," several more exude so-called toughness.  There is in Detroit a strange compulsion to embrace and cultivate the image of an endless circle of violence for the sake of appearing tough to outsiders.  "I'm from Detroit" too often comes across as threatening bravado rather than a statement of pride.

This is not to say that the image of the blue collar worth ethic pulsing through the city and the surrounding area is a myth.  It is real.  Countless citizens get up early, take double shifts or two jobs, and work themselves to the bone.  They board and change buses to faraway suburbs to try and keep afloat or pay a mortgage on a house that is worth far less than what they paid.  Then they get up the next day and do it all over again.  But that is not unique to the area.  The reality of Detroit is indisputable.

The Great Society and its magnanimous projects dismantled in a few years a middle class of many cultures that had thrived and promoted personal responsibility and nuclear families for decades.  The riots of 1967 caused many to flee, but the racist Young in the 1970s fomented bitterness for his office and invited whites to "take their asses across 8 Mile," an invitation most anyone of means regardless of pigmentation correctly interpreted as a threat and accepted.

The industry that built the gleaming city on the Detroit River scoffed at the Japanese and their silly little cars.  Simultaneously it allowed brutal union management to convince the workforce that their jobs were a birthright so as to hold the automakers hostage and force an unsustainable business model.  Kwame Kilpatrick, dressing and acting the part, ran a criminal syndicate out of the mayor's office, fleecing the city he "loves" in a way that will keep it bleeding money it does not have and will not have for years.  Over and over, Detroiters have put their faith in the worst element of "public servants," and they have been so punished.  Unless the entire culture is quickly transformed, the fate of Detroit has been long sealed.

Perhaps the most poignant snapshot of the city in that Chrysler ad was of the vacant lot that was once the home of a massive ballpark with the best sightlines of any stadium in the major leagues.  It was the place where millions of Detroiters breathlessly stood in awe at our first glimpse of the magnificent stage of a major league baseball park in a major league town and forged a bond with a team, its city, and its people.

For a brief moment, viewers gazed upon the only thing left of the demolished Tiger Stadium, its own history an apt metaphor for the city; the centerfield flagpole surrounded by a giant fence, the Stars and Stripes slowly unfurling over a barren field against a cold wind and an ominous sky.

Matthew May is the primary author of the forthcoming Restoration: The God and Country Education Project.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: detroit
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The Detroit Skyline looks Magnificent... But Look Closer...
1 posted on 04/19/2011 7:05:34 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

It featured rapper Eminem driving along Woodward Avenue...”

That pretty well tells you all you need to know.


2 posted on 04/19/2011 7:07:29 AM PDT by ConservativeDude
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To: SeekAndFind

Just like where ever WalMart comes in the neighborhood dies, where ever the unions come in the place dies.


3 posted on 04/19/2011 7:08:15 AM PDT by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: Springman; sergeantdave; cyclotic; netmilsmom; RatsDawg; PGalt; FreedomHammer; queenkathy; ...
Photobucket

MIping

If you wish to be added to or removed from the Michigan ping list, please post or FReepmail me.

4 posted on 04/19/2011 7:09:55 AM PDT by magslinger (What Would Stephen Decatur Do?)
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To: ConservativeDude

democRAT Infestation with its accompanying plague and Unions


5 posted on 04/19/2011 7:11:51 AM PDT by rod1
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To: SeekAndFind

I have no desire to kick Detroit. These stories evoke a deep sadness in me. Probably because I see Detroit as a metaphor for America.

Detroit may not recover from this decline in my lifetime, (I’m sort of old). The urban culture coupled with unions, and now the influx of muslims... I really can’t see how a recovery is possible.


6 posted on 04/19/2011 7:14:08 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: SeekAndFind

A recent article in National Review describes the large population loss in Detroit, as hard-working, middle-class Blacks have left the city in droves. It goes on to recall how the “White Flight” from the inner cities in the 1970s and 80s was blamed on racism by the politically correct mainstream media. The conclusion: maybe people (of all races) just want to live in a safe environment.


7 posted on 04/19/2011 7:14:46 AM PDT by TruthShallSetYouFree (Obama is chanelling Charlie Sheen. Libya makes 2 1/2 Wars.)
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To: brownsfan

Exactly, everybody picks on Detroit, but the fact is, every major US city is going to look like Detroit within a few decades.

Detroit still has some of the best suburbs to live in, in the country, though.


8 posted on 04/19/2011 7:16:21 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: brownsfan

“... I really can’t see how a recovery is possible.”

Time for OCP to take it private.


9 posted on 04/19/2011 7:18:06 AM PDT by swain_forkbeard (Rationality may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.)
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To: SeekAndFind

the picture was taken in windsor, a foreign country, with little to no crime and a people that take pride in their city.....the exact opposite of detroit..


10 posted on 04/19/2011 7:21:08 AM PDT by joe fonebone (Project Gunwalker, this will make watergate look like the warm up band......)
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To: brownsfan
"and now the influx of muslims.."
hate to burst your bubble, but the muslims have nothing to do with the decline of detroit....you are far safer in the muslim neighborhoods than the rest of the city...
11 posted on 04/19/2011 7:24:14 AM PDT by joe fonebone (Project Gunwalker, this will make watergate look like the warm up band......)
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To: SeekAndFind

12 posted on 04/19/2011 7:24:34 AM PDT by Hoodat (Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. - (Rom 8:37))
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To: SeekAndFind

“Chrysler and Eminem produced a great commercial”. You have GOT to be kidding me. I watched that commercial aghast, in disbelief! Detroit is an abomination, a cancer. Detroit is a symbol of all that has gone wrong in America and it’s subsequent decline. A chilling reminder of the welfare culture and rampant out of control, and unpunished, criminals.


13 posted on 04/19/2011 7:26:37 AM PDT by ransacked
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To: swain_forkbeard
Time for OCP to take it private.

"I'll buy that for a dollar."

14 posted on 04/19/2011 7:28:16 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: joe fonebone

“hate to burst your bubble, but the muslims have nothing to do with the decline of detroit....you are far safer in the muslim neighborhoods than the rest of the city...”

Yes, and no.

Yes, muslims didn’t cause the decline of Detroit. But, I was looking at Detroit’s recovery prospects, and muslims have contributed so much to the rest of the world, right? I mean look at all the great things the Palestinians are doing with the land the got from Israel. I mean, everywhere muslims go, that place flourishes, right?

As for safety, sure, you bet. muslims are well known for how gracious they are to Christians.

You’re a bit delusional.


15 posted on 04/19/2011 7:28:30 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Two points:

1. Detroit has a yearly budget of $3.1 BILLION. You could build another “Paris of the Mid-West” that kind of cash in just a few years.

2. Detroit has been run democrats and socialists for the last 60 years straight. They have instituted every insane liberal program ever dream-up. All money goes towards public unions which is why nothing gets done.

16 posted on 04/19/2011 7:29:41 AM PDT by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: dfwgator

“Detroit still has some of the best suburbs to live in, in the country, though.”

And northern Michigan is gorgeous. I’d love to see a Detroit comeback, but I can’t imagine how it would take place.


17 posted on 04/19/2011 7:31:10 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: magslinger

MIping


18 posted on 04/19/2011 7:34:36 AM PDT by Huskrrrr
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To: SeekAndFind

The old Detroit Grand Prix....a great day to be in Detroit.


19 posted on 04/19/2011 7:37:48 AM PDT by Huskrrrr
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To: 2banana

Reminds me of the Levi’s ads featuring Braddock, PA.

Another liberal RAT-infested he!1-hole!


20 posted on 04/19/2011 7:41:53 AM PDT by catman67
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To: 2banana

Dave Bing is effectively declaring fiscal martial law in Detroit and is going after the unions. He’s an old school democrat and the country would be better off if all the democrats acted like him.

He’s a democrat and has his departures from reality but he stands head and shoulders above his party.


21 posted on 04/19/2011 7:43:07 AM PDT by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin! (look it up))
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To: brownsfan

Even the gun-loving Ted Nugent abandoned MI for more hospitable (and less taxing) environs.


22 posted on 04/19/2011 7:44:18 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: SeekAndFind

Corporate arrogance. Union greed and sloth. Government malfeasance. Detroit was the site of the “perfect storm”.


23 posted on 04/19/2011 7:45:39 AM PDT by Poison Pill
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To: brownsfan
And northern Michigan is gorgeous. I’d love to see a Detroit comeback, but I can’t imagine how it would take place.

Michigan passes 'financial martial law' bill: bankrupt cities and school districts (Detroit, Flint, etc) will have a financial manager who can override local government and cancel public employee union contracts.

The only thing that can save Detroit is to cancel welfare.

24 posted on 04/19/2011 7:45:59 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 ("It is only when we've lost everything, that we are free to do anything" -- Fight Club)
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To: TruthShallSetYouFree
Is that the article that stated that (the race-baiting) Coleman Young was
happy to see "white flight" as that shrunk the opposing voting
base that did not want to see him destroy the city?
25 posted on 04/19/2011 7:49:52 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: SeekAndFind

Detroit always looks better from Canada.


26 posted on 04/19/2011 7:53:49 AM PDT by School of Rational Thought (Get the BO out of the Executive Mansion.)
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To: brownsfan
"You’re a bit delusional."
I LIVE here...I have worked in the city, and around the city...the muslims are not a problem here....the reason is actually quite simple, they like it here...the muslim area's are by far the safest in the city, period. They are also among the best kept as far as appearances go.....come here and look around before you spout your crap
27 posted on 04/19/2011 7:54:37 AM PDT by joe fonebone (Project Gunwalker, this will make watergate look like the warm up band......)
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To: SeekAndFind

I was last in Detroit on business in 1979. It was a horror then of noise, snarling black gangsters, dirt, and violence. The front of the hotel was actually caked with filth up to the 7th floor so the windows were opaque and the hotel smelled of diesel and garbage. The hotel was unsleepable because of street noise. I have never been, and never will, be back.


28 posted on 04/19/2011 7:54:41 AM PDT by pabianice
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To: dfwgator
Detroit still has some of the best suburbs to live in, in the country, though.

For now. The huge supply of foreclosed homes has made it affordable for many Detroiters to move to the suburbs. It is only a matter of time as their culture engulf them as they have the ring suburbs.

29 posted on 04/19/2011 7:57:08 AM PDT by School of Rational Thought (Get the BO out of the Executive Mansion.)
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To: dfwgator

“Exactly, everybody picks on Detroit, but the fact is, every major US city is going to look like Detroit within a few decades.”

What you say is absoutely true.

But let me ask impertinent questions:
Would this not be a use purpose for “cities” in the America that is to come?
That is to say, that they might become repositories for the most undesirable, and by being so, concentrate them in a few places and keep them away from the good people?

We use prisons for exactly that purpose, for the most dangerous.
Why not use “cities” in a similar way?

Just sayin’.....


30 posted on 04/19/2011 7:57:48 AM PDT by Grumplestiltskin (I may look new, but it's only deja vu!)
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To: dfwgator

“Exactly, everybody picks on Detroit, but the fact is, every major US city is going to look like Detroit within a few decades.”

I would be willing to bet that Houston will not. If anything, the dumpy parts of Houston are getting torn down and replaced with new, better buildings.

And, yes, I frequently rag on Houston (and Galveston), but it will not become Detroit.


31 posted on 04/19/2011 7:58:48 AM PDT by No Truce With Kings (Ten years on FreeRepublic and counting.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Are the liquor stores thriving or is it not their brain-deadening drug of choice?


32 posted on 04/19/2011 7:59:28 AM PDT by rusureitflies? (OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD! There, I said it. Prove me wrong.)
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To: 2banana
Two points: 1. Detroit has a yearly budget of $3.1 BILLION. You could build another “Paris of the Mid-West” that kind of cash in just a few years. 2. Detroit has been run democrats and socialists for the last 60 years straight. They have instituted every insane liberal program ever dream-up. All money goes towards public unions which is why nothing gets done.

A good example of the plan to purchase park of the Greek Town area to build a jail. There are thousands of acres of vacant lots in Detroit, but the powers that be want to spend top dollar to build their jail downtown.

33 posted on 04/19/2011 8:00:11 AM PDT by School of Rational Thought (Get the BO out of the Executive Mansion.)
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To: brownsfan
I mean, everywhere muslims go, that place flourishes, right?

Hmmm, did you know that Beirut was once considered "The Paris of Mideast"?

IIRC, Extremely muslim Syria originally sponsored the Lebanese civil
war out of predominantly economic jealousy of the what was
then a relatively religiously tolerant country.

34 posted on 04/19/2011 8:01:52 AM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: SeekAndFind

Wait a minute. I thought everyone in America was moving to the cities for the museums and operas and professional sports.


35 posted on 04/19/2011 8:06:09 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: blueunicorn6

The only whites you’ll find in downtown Detroit at night are when the Red Wings play at The Joe.


36 posted on 04/19/2011 8:07:19 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: SeekAndFind
Detroit and Paris still do have two things in common:

  1. Lots of dog poop.
  2. Lots of Muzzies in their suburbs.

37 posted on 04/19/2011 8:11:45 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: joe fonebone
"I LIVE here...I have worked in the city, and around the city...the muslims are not a problem here...."

Sure, I should come see, because I don't know anything about muslims... right?
Of course they love it there, Hamtramck is one of the few places in the US to sound the muslim call to prayer. A little sharia law, a few burned churches and it will be home to them.

"Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it.

No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

-- Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).






38 posted on 04/19/2011 8:13:45 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: Calvin Locke

“Hmmm, did you know that Beirut was once considered “The Paris of Mideast”?”

I didn’t think I needed a sarcasm tag on that post, see my reply on post 38 and you’ll see how I feel about muslims, and their influence.


39 posted on 04/19/2011 8:17:02 AM PDT by brownsfan (I miss the America I grew up in.)
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To: Grumplestiltskin
they might become repositories for the most undesirable, and by being so, concentrate them in a few places and keep them away from the good people?

Sounds like it's time for another Snake Plissen movie: Escape from Detroit.

40 posted on 04/19/2011 8:17:09 AM PDT by sportutegrl
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To: Vigilanteman

Think that pretty well covers it, neither one makes my top 10000 places to go list. They don’t make the bottom 10000, either.


41 posted on 04/19/2011 8:20:02 AM PDT by org.whodat
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To: Grumplestiltskin
We use prisons for exactly that purpose, for the most dangerous.
Why not use “cities” in a similar way?

One problem with using cities for this purpose is that they tend to be located astride important highway junctions, ports and other infrastructure.

It would work better to build a secure wall about two miles north of the Mexican border and deport the entire criminal element to the south side of the wall.

42 posted on 04/19/2011 8:23:05 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: blueunicorn6
Wait a minute. I thought everyone in America was moving to the cities for the museums and operas and professional sports.

Let's not forget the vibrant bohemian restaurant scene.

43 posted on 04/19/2011 8:26:41 AM PDT by SIDENET ("If that's your best, your best won't do." -Dee Snider)
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To: Grumplestiltskin
But let me ask impertinent questions: Would this not be a use purpose for “cities” in the America that is to come?

That's what Gitmo is for.

44 posted on 04/19/2011 8:27:20 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: cripplecreek

That last is a really, really low bar.


45 posted on 04/19/2011 8:28:56 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: Calvin Locke; brownsfan

>Hmmm, did you know that Beirut was once considered “The Paris of Mideast”?

Largely because of the Maronite Christians, Greek Orthodox, and other Christian sects. Now suppressed and oppressed.


46 posted on 04/19/2011 8:34:01 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: SeekAndFind

Yeah, it looks magnificent alright... from Windsor, Canada!


47 posted on 04/19/2011 9:07:23 AM PDT by ScottinVA (Imagine.... a world without islam.)
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To: SeekAndFind
What Happened to a City Once Improbably Called : "The Paris of the Midwest."

It's still the "Paris of the Midwest," if you refer to Paris' muslim banueles out away from the city's center.

48 posted on 04/19/2011 9:11:02 AM PDT by ScottinVA (Imagine.... a world without islam.)
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To: ScottinVA
It's still the "Paris of the Midwest," if you refer to Paris' muslim banueles out away from the city's center.

Beirut was once the "Paris" of the Middle East.

49 posted on 04/19/2011 9:11:45 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: TruthShallSetYouFree

Not only did whites want to live in a safe environment but they had Coleman Young issuing some vaguely threatening, Robert Mugabe-like statement every other week.

The riots in ‘68 hurt them very badly too, burning thousands of buildings. The trouble got out as far as 6 mile. White suburbanites had armed themselves and were gathering along 8 mile. Fortunately for all concerned the rioters never made it that far. But it disabused any thinking person of wanting to live in Detroit.


50 posted on 04/19/2011 9:20:46 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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