The Meaning of MOVE

A quarter-century ago, we bombed our own city. In many ways, it’s been 1985 ever since

As in Buffalo Creek, time seems to have stopped after MOVE. It’s like we’re a city of Marty McFlys, all stuck in 1985: There’s our antiquated glass ceiling, our atavistic racial discourse, and, eerily, the same cast of characters — just read our accompanying oral history, and the names (Nutter, Rendell, Seth Williams) all jump out at you. Hell, the Hooters are still around, rocking out to “All You Zombies.” That Fawn Hall sure is hot, isn’t she?

Stalberg is right — MOVE is right up there with the ’64 Phils as our collective scar. But maybe there’s a lesson to be learned in that. When the Phils came back from seven games down with 17 to play to take the NL East from the Mutts, er, Mets in 2007, the New York collapse was as epic as ours in ’64. But New York didn’t internalize it. As with Giuliani in 1994, there was no shrinking from challenge. There was no avoidance and numbing. Their team just went out, boldly loaded up on more free agents, and kept playing the game. (Thankfully, they continue to suck.)

Maybe it’s time for us to do the same — in the political realm. To tackle the big issues, like real school and political reform, and relegate MOVE not to the deep recesses of our insecure psyche, but to the proverbial trash heap of history. None other than West Philly philosopher and former pugilist Randall “Tex” Cobb put it best, when recently asked to advise city leaders how to shed the scar of MOVE. “You had a bunch of assholes who didn’t bathe and called that politics,” he said. “And then you reacted like a freakin’ redneck. Okay. Score tied on the stupid meter. It’s freakin’ 2010. Stop being a little bitch and get your mojo back.”