NEW BLOG - Matthew "AntiFrantik" Carter's "MuddYork Express": Remembering th
It is the final days of March, and the body of Rob Ford lies in repose at City Hall. At the age of 46, none can deny that the former mayor of Toronto went too soon. His passing was both sad and tragic. Nevertheless, as hundreds line up to grieve and pay their respects, I stand here both confused and perturbed. To me, this outpouring of emotion indicates that many hold the man in a regard too high for me to ascribe to. It indicates a whitewashing of his legacy that leaves me, at best, wholly uncomfortable.
It is evident that, in his death, Rob Ford is being treated like the celebrity he had grown to become. His antics, despite their nature, made him a household name all across the globe. As a figure, he provided us with something to congregate around on a daily basis; he sharpened our views and encouraged us to seek out like-minded individuals. Ultimately, one could posit that he gifted Toronto with relevance on the world stage and, in doing so, unified us as a city.
I'm uncomfortable with such sentiments overpowering and suffocating the narrative surrounding the deceased mayor. Though whitewashing his legacy after his death may appear to be a noble undertaking, it is, in fact, an act of erasure. Many were victimized by the his antics, both inside and outside of City Hall. Two of the young men shown with Ford in the now infamous photo -- Anthony Smith and Muhammad Khattak -- subsequently fell victim to gun violence. I remember watching the man, with his brother and his bodyguards in tow, taunting and filming the public during city council meetings, a smile of childish glee polluting his features. His name has never been synonymous with benevolence, and failing to recognize this, especially upon his passing, does a disservice to those who were subject to his whimsies and machinations.
The list of transgressions is long and overt. He often went missing in action while on the job, and he clearly preferred coaching football to running the city he was responsible for. Various gaffes betrayed inherent racism and misogyny, and his repeated absences from Pride Week hinted at a homophobia that became all too apparent upon the release of the infamous crack video.
Hiding behind the paper-thin image of a blue-collar everyman, Rob Ford terrorized City Hall with a caustic brand of anti-politics; he was much more likely to troll his peers than to deliberate with them. He immediately set public transit back by a decade by cancelling Transit City and, instead, stubbornly trumpeted a plan for subways that was effectively and obviously unfeasible.
It is safe to say that, as a political figure, Rob Ford will not be missed. His legacy is, at best, checkered, and should be remembered as such. I think it's safe to say that he affected all of our lives, and, most importantly, he exposed the sociopolitical rift that cleaves the city in two -- the one that separates the downtown core from the suburbs out on the fringes. This, I think, is his most important contribution to Toronto: he was a wake-up call, one that proclaimed that we were not as unified ideologically as we liked to believe; one that proclaimed that we still have a lot of work to do and a lot to learn.
Matthew "AntiFrantik" Carter | Twitter: @AntiFrantik | IG: @AntiFrantik | https://muddyork.wordpress.com/