Saturday, June 22, 2013

Use "Boston Strong" with Pride... but Don't Be Stupid

Since an idiot Maple Leafs fan pulled out a “Toronto Stronger” sign before a playoff game against the Bruins in Toronto, people have been talking about when it is approproate to use the term “Boston Strong”. The issue came to the fore again when the even bigger idiots at CubbyTees decided to go with a Chicago Stronger” shirt on their website.

So when is it OK to whip out this slogan? The Boston Globe has run an editorial about it, and there have been many columns from folks all around the print world, as well as the web. even has a nice overview of the debate here.

To me, "Boston Strong" is a source of local pride. It identifies who we are and where we come from, most recently in light of the Marathon tragedy, but I think that it goes much deeper than that.

It speaks to a determination of spirit that has lived within people from the area (I'd even venture to include most of New England) since the first hearty, religious whack-job settlers from Europe showed up. They we Massholes through-and-through, too stubborn to die in the face of brackish water (hello, Townies!) and those first harsh winters. Since then we've been constantly standing up to adversity, and the "eff you" attitude of the people here has been passed down through the centuries, from fanatical hellfire preachers, to revolutionaries, to abolitionists, to wave after wave of tough-as-nails immigrants from the world over.

Yet it has only been within this most recent generation where we have begun to overcome our Achilles Heel: Our stodgy parochialism. For so long a city of isolated neighborhoods, the way that the city and surrounding towns rallied together during that horrific week has shown us all that we may have finally outgrown our penchant to be people from Boston, but not communally of Boston.

In the days and weeks after the bombings and shootouts, watching from afar I felt as if we have been discovering an emotional "Urban Ring" in our city that we didn't realize was there before. Finally, we felt as one. We weren't just jumping onto our neighborhood line and heading downtown, we were connected already. People in Dorchester stood in solidarity with those in East Boston; and the folks in Hyde Park with the denizens of Southie. And who's heart didn't swell with pride when the well-to-dos in the South End and Back Bay, who were all on the front line of the attack, opened their homes to sweaty, exhausted, terrified strangers? Dammit, those are OUR haughty rich folk!

So I'm totally, 100% OK with anybody from New England slapping on a "Boston Strong" t-shirt, or drinking some Dunkin' Donuts coffee out of a "Boston Strong", mug. But if you’re selling something with “Boston Strong” on it, you should be donating no less than 50% of any proceeds from the sale to The One Fund, or to some other consortium of charities that promotes regional unity.


Where I draw the line is sports paraphernalia. Incorporating the Bruins or Red Sox "B" into the slogan is borderline OK because it's a local identifier, but we shouldn't be throwing the term around during sporting events or as some sort of crass rallying cry. The term, and what it represents, is so much bigger than that.

Boderline OK
Boderline OK