Feb 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm
Recently, New York City declined $200 million in federal funds for hosting the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 terrorists, citing the traffic jams and other hassles it would bring. We can understand Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reluctance to green light it, even with the generous subsidy. We’ve tried getting around Manhattan just when the president visited; it does become a traffic nightmare. Imagine the snarl a terror trial could cause!

So the wags over at Slate had an idea: They asked their readers to “nominate their own hometowns as alternative sites for the trials.” Surprisingly, the winner in that informal poll was Detroit! (No word from Attorney General Eric Holder on whether he’ll go along with the vox populi on this.)

Calling the choice a “combination of practicality, pride and desperation,” they used a quote from one voter, Casey Lowe, to describe why Detroit fits the bill. While normally we’re happy to hear hometowners toot their horns for the D, we were puzzled by Lowe’s plug for the Motor City, as it either sounded ill-informed or as if he were trying to bludgeon the city with left-handed compliments. Take this doozy:

First of all, large swaths of downtown Detroit are already abandoned, so there is plenty of available space. Traffic and business will be unaffected because the city has none of either.

Looking out the windows of our business in downtown Detroit, we see plenty of traffic and businesses around us, namely Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Greektown Casino, General Motors, dozens of restaurants and bars, consulting companies and more, and that’s just within a few blocks. But, back to Lowe:

[Moreover] if the proceedings are attacked, there will be minimal collateral damage to the surrounding area. To the contrary, the terrorists would be performing a useful public service by demolishing deserted buildings.

Har-de-har-har. Tell that laugh-line to the more than 80,000 people who work in downtown Detroit. We’re sure they’ll be as amused as we were.

In fairness to Slate, we’re journalists too. We love a spicy, provocative quote. But we somehow wish Slate had gone with a better-informed quote to champion our beleaguered city.

As for this would-be humorist Casey Lowe, we sorta doubt he’s ever lived or worked in the city. Perhaps he spent a few minutes driving through it at 3 a.m. in 1983? In any event, he has an open invitation to come down to our offices. We’ll even buy him a coney dog at Plaka Café if he’s willing to visit. You know, just to meet the nonexistent people who don’t work at our nonexistent businesses in all our “deserted” buildings. Your call, Casey.