Joe Queenan Defends Philly from HitchBOT Haters

Native son says bad things can happen in Philly. But it's not our fault.

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The evil that Philly does lives on and on. The good is oft interred with its ‘bots.

Yes, it appears some goons assaulted America’s new favorite robot, the Canadian-born HitchBOT.

But writer, a Philly native,  Joe Queenan argues in the Wall Street Journal that we should restrain from blaming Philadelphians, and Philadelphia, for the bad things that happen here.

“Are people responsible for bad things that happen in the cities where they grew up?” he asks, in light of this past week’s HitchBOT  controversy. “Whenever things like this happen, everyone goes out of their way to give me a hard time about the “so-called” City of Brotherly Love.”

Queenan asserts later in the piece that Philadelphia doesn’t get the credit it deserves for some of the truly amazing things it’s institutions and citizens achieve. He writes:

In June, the Philadelphia Museum of Art mounted a majestic show honoring the art dealer who brought the world the impressionists. Is anyone talking about that? No, just about that robot. Carli Lloyd,who led the U.S. women’s soccer team to the World Cup championship, grew up in the Delaware Valley. Is anyone talking about that? No, just that robot.

He cites Alexander Hamilton, the subject of a new Broadway show in New York, who lived in Philadelphia as a founding father of the United States. Musicians Hall and Oates, Patti LaBelle and Chubby Checker get acknowledged for their hard-won fame, but Philadelphia gets no credit for raising them, Queenan laments.

All overshadowed by myths and stumbling politicians, he says.

“Nobody in Philadelphia ever booed Santa Claus. They booed some ringer dressed up as Santa at an Eagles game in December 1968, because the real Santa never showed up,” Queenan writes. “A guy running for the White House, a cheesehead to boot, should know that you never put sliced cheese on a cheesesteak,” he adds.

Queenan concludes: “A robot wandering around the streets of Philadelphia in the middle of the night is an idiot.”