Friday, January 19, 2007

Bogus Barclay Brouhaha

We have just received some criticism over our enthusiastic response to the announced partnership between the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Bank. The criticism revolves around the bank's putative history. We say putative only because we don't accept on face value the statements of folks who have a vested interest in opposing anything FCRC does around Atlantic Yards.

Now the critics in question pointed to an article that was published by the virulently anti-Atlantic Yards Brooklyn Paper. The article's title speaks about "blood money" and the "fact" that Barclays was "founded on slave money." Now let's for arguments sake assume that at least some of the allegations are true. What do they mean for the bank's current mangement and corporate make-up?

There are many families, countries and corporations whose histories contain things that the current members or leaders would find abhorrent. We've read about the role that IBM played in the final solution; and, of course, there is the sordid history of Henry Ford and anti-Semitism. We have no doubt that the naming of the new arena, the Ford Arena, would have generated the same sanctimony from the arena's critics. With just as little justification.

The attempt, however, by the Brooklyn Paper to whip up a racial backlash in this matter is a new low even for this yellow journalistic enterprise. Its editorial in this regard, one that states that it is an insult for black Brooklynites to have to pass by this "slave founded business," is an exercise in demonization that is unfair to what the Barclays Bank stands for today.

If it were up to these folks, Barclays would be tarred and feathered for its past (assuming that all of the allegations hold up) and be ostracized from polite company. Overlooked is the bank's current corporate policies and its huge financial commitment to the kids of the borough. The only real question here is what this deal means for all of the young people who will benefit from the work of the Brooklyn Sports Alliance. Everything else is simply a bad faith smokescreen.