I want to tell you a story about a controversy that isn’t really a controversy at all. It’s a series of contrived events designed to suggest there’s a genuine controversy. And although activists and media are playing along with the script, the community isn’t buying it.
On Tuesday night, the new Little Caesars Arena opened in downtown Detroit. It’s a beautiful facility - modern in every way, and setting the stage for the revitalization of more than 50 city blocks, many of which were pretty blighted over the course of recent decades. Developed by Olympia Entertainment, the arena will serve as the new home of both the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons, as well as many concerts and other events that are expected to keep the arena busy more than 200 nights a year.
I could go into a lot more detail about what this arena means for the continued resurgence of Detroit - and I’d love to, because it’s very exciting for those of us who call this city ours - but for now let’s suffice it to say it’s a wonderful development and much welcome by the entire metropolitan area. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, everyone is rooting for Detroit’s comeback, and this is one of the biggest and most important chapters in that story.
But the political left will never be happy if it’s not conjuring up a controversy, and such controversies usually have to do with race. In this case, the left came through as it usually does.
It has been known for many months that the arena would open with a series of concerts by Kid Rock, whose Tuesday opener was the first of six shows on six consecutive nights. Now Kid Rock, who is a Metro Detroit native, is not my cup of tea musically. But he is wildly popular here and arena management were confident he would have no trouble selling out even with six shows in the same city. It’s created a huge and glorious way to inaugurate such an important new facility.
Kid Rock, of course, is outspoken about his political conservatism - sometimes profanely so. This is part of his schtick, which is not to say it’s anything but a genuine reflection of who he is. He supported Donald Trump. He’s been known (although not as much in recent years) to display the Confederate flag in his shows as part of his good-old-boy persona. He showed up in the White House shortly after Trump’s inauguration and post for a photo with the president as well as Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin. This is who he is. It’s who he’s been for a very long time. Everyone in Detroit knows this. Like him, don’t like him . . . he’s hugely popular and lots of people come to see his shows. He’s an entertainer and his fans love him.
So for the many months it was known Kid Rock would open the new arena, there was no controversy, no public outcry, no protests. It was a non-issue. People who don’t like Kid Rock just didn’t buy tickets for the show. No big deal. Wait for someone you like and go see that show instead.
Then came Camille Johnson and Bridge Magazine. Now Bridge is published by an outfit called the “Center for Michigan,” which claims to be “centrist” but is actually put out by a group of liberal former journalists working for a liberal former newspaper publisher named Phil Power. Bridge commissioned Ms. Johnson to write a column decrying Kid Rock as a “disgrace,” and suggesting that it’s racist and insensitive for Little Caesars Arena to begin its life in a majority black city with him as the headliner.
This was the catalyst for the left to create a phony controversy. Next in line was Detroit Free Press opinion page editor Stephen Henderson, who could turn a cup of coffee into evidence of white institutional racism. This is the same guy who once called for Republican legislators to be thrown off the Mackinac Bridge after being sewn into burlap sacks with wild animals. But among Detroit-area leftists, he’s regarded as a serious and responsible journalist. So no one was surprised when Henderson followed Johnson’s lead and wrote a much more widely read column echoing the idea that Kid Rock is a racist and calling it a “middle finger” to Detroit to have him play the arena.
This was the cue to the usual activist groups to organize protests, which attracted “dozens” of people on opening night, but lots of media attention as journalists tried desperately to create the impression that there was really a major swelling of negative feelings about the Kid Rock concerts.
There isn’t. There never has been. A few liberal writers with platforms decided that a conservative entertainer couldn’t be allowed to perform without the whole thing being labeled “controversial,” so they expressed their rage and prompted the microscopic demonstrations that gave the media an excuse to cover the “controversy” as much as the concert and the event opening.
But give Kid Rock credit. He understood what was going on and he didn’t back down. For one thing, he denied the Free Press credentials to cover the concert. That’s awesome. Freedom of the press is tremendously important, but press outlets need to be disabused of the notion that they can simply say whatever they want about someone - no matter how irresponsible and scurrilous - and expect to still be treated like serious practitioners of their craft. Publishing Henderson’s reckless and irresponsible column was not the sort of thing a serious newspaper does. You demand that an event be cancelled, but still expect to be let into it for free?
No. Screw the Detroit Free Press.
And if you want to read Kid Rock’s full statement on the matter, here you go. The media predictably labeled it as “long and rambling,” but you can decide for yourself how persuasive it is without some sneering journalist ripping him for his style.
What you really need to know here is that there is no grassroot, organic community outrage about Kid Rock playing these concerts. Some people like him, some people don’t. But only a handful of journalists and the usual activist suspects are making noise about this, despite what the media want you to believe. The left can’t let anyone on the right do anything without making it known how “controversial” it is. Because then you might get the impression that a point of view other than theirs can exist in civilized society.
And that is the real problem the left has with Kid Rock. No one else in Detroit cares.
Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain.com
A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.Commenting Policy
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