Social media and regional tongues continue to wag over the recent comments made to The New Yorker Magazine by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. This isn’t the first time he has made a seemingly insensitive rant about the beautiful city of Detroit and its lovely residents. And, I doubt it will be his last for at least two reasons.
One, critical remarks always draw fire and more ink. At a time when he has all but been pushed to the sidelines, it is exactly what he needs to stay relevant. After his auto accident early last year, it’s been apparent that Brooks has clearly lost some of his fire; watching and listening to him is quite different than before his accident. For as long as we all try to decipher or defend his statements, he remains right where he wants to be—at the center of attention.
Second, what he said simply mirrors the thoughts of many. Don’t believe me? Check out the comment section of any media outlet about any story even remotely connected to Detroit or with veiled economic or cultural ties. There, you’ll see the opinions of those who can conveniently hide behind a screen name or avatar and just how mean, critical and hateful many folks really are.
People may want Brooks to be more tactful and choice in his words, but that is not who he is. Given that he has served Oakland County for six consecutive terms, his constituents obviously identify with who he is and what he does, for better or worse.
His words can’t be viewed as divisive, as he clearly isn’t the only one who feels that way about Detroit. While many are rushing to publicly saying what they think needs to be said or what they think others want to hear, Brooks, as always, is simply speaking his subjective and critical mind.