Californians leave for water and cheaper rents. New Yorkers leave for elbow room and fresh air. But Detroiters flee, as if the city were inhabited by a 20-story gila monster that shoots white-hot flame.
Being a Detroiter is like having a sunburn — and a jolly friend who's always slapping you on the back.
It seems that our national media simply can't stop mentioning the decline of the city's fortunes, population, and industry, no matter what the context, hitting us again and again in a spot where we're most sensitive.
The latest is a spate of news stories about Comcast's plans to pull out of Detroit. A piece on Bloomberg cries, "Comcast to Follow 1 Million Who've Fled Bankrupt Detroit."
Other media outlets, including MSN and the Chicago Daily Herald
, picked up the headline without any edits.
Why do we object to this? First of all, it's wrong. In order to follow so many of the 1 million souls who've left Detroit, Comcast would have to remain in Detroit's suburbs, where millions of former Detroiters and their progeny actually live. So that's wrong right off the bat.
Second, it's misleading. The way it's written, you'd think 1 million people fled Detroit because
it's bankrupt. They didn't flee a bankrupt Detroit. Since the 1940s they have "fled" a Detroit that was a burgeoning manufacturing town, a new model city, with plenty of immigrants from the South ready to take their place. The fleeing started as soon as the building boom began beyond city limits, long before anybody had heard of "white flight."
Finally, wasn't cable television a twinkle in Ted Turner's eye back when Detroit had a million more people? What's going on here?
It's like that "friend" who reaches all the way around just to tag you on that one spot you're badly sunburned on, who then says, "Oops, forgot."
In conclusion, perhaps we shouldn't be shedding any crocodile tears as Comcast waddles off to the coasts. Their irritating customer service
which routinely receives ratings lower than any ISP
, their court battles
, and their shared status as the most hated corporation in America
certainly haven't endeared them to us here in Michigan. In fact, the whole reason they're leaving Detroit is so they can grab at the lucrative New York and Los Angeles markets.
So who's really "fleeing" after all?