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12294Re: NYT's Friedman: "take the Subway"

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  • Karen Sandness
    Mar 5, 2012
      Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, is an excessively "business-friendly" xenophobe, but the last time I was in Japan, I saw him give a televised news conference. One of the reporters asked him what he was going to do about traffic congestion in the central part of the city. His suggestion was that more people should take the subway, which is exactly what I would have said.

      At least non-impoverished people in Tokyo do take the subway, the commuter trains, and the buses and by and large don't believe that this is beneath them. In Minneapolis, I find that snobbery is one of the biggest obstacles to improving transit. The suburban right-wingers think of transit as something that only poor people, especially dark-skinned poor people, ride, so in line with their belief that poor people should suffer as much as possible, they are loath to improve it. Regrettably, I can only be car-lite here, not car-free, but people are astonished when I tell them that I fill the gas tank only once every four to six weeks.

      Richard, you may recall that when I was in Los Angeles for a conference in 2001 and we met for dinner, you put me on the bus back to my hotel. When I mentioned this to one of the local attendees the next day, he was horrified that I had taken the bus at night and even seemed surprised that I had survived the adventure. But in fact, the experience was not frightening at all, unless one considers the presence of dark-skinned people to be inherently frightening.

      The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that racism lies behind much of both the suburbanization and the auto-centricity of America.

      In transit,
      Karen Sandness
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