Two years ago, Eagles player Jason Kelce addressed a crowd of thousands in Center City to remind everyone that we are the underdogs, and we don’t give a f*** if you don’t like us. What he expressed is what many locals felt, a common sentiment after years of enduring trash talk from fans of other teams. That win would bring the city together for some long overdue celebration and mayhem. I was there, and I was swept up in the spirit of the parade, a fired up crowd not deterred by frigid temperatures.
On Tuesday night, Philadelphians united again, this time to decry President Donald Trump’s assertion that our city is a place where “bad things happen.”
I remember the pride on display when I watched the Eagles win the Super Bowl. Despite feeling just as weepy and amazed, I did not take to the streets afterward to join in on the pole climbing and setting cars on fire. I didn’t expect anything less from inebriated fans who waited their whole lives for that moment. And those crowds, mostly peaceful, some rowdy, did not fail to make quite the scene.
It is true that Philadelphians don’t take BS, and that this is a gritty city. We are tough talkers who, from the outside, are often standoffish. This may sometimes be accurate to insiders too, and if anyone has ever sat at a green light longer than a second, they’d concur. Let’s not forget that we’ve earned ourselves a jail and court inside of the now-demolished Veterans Stadium. We’re also clever opportunists, already turning a profit off of Trump’s now infamous words with shirts and sweatshirts being sold within an hour of the close of the debate. Many companies (like this shirt line) are hitting back by routing profits into the very community he sought to defund.
As many may recall, Trump has been quite critical of Philadelphia, and he has even tried to cut funding because of our sanctuary city status. He has also been outspoken about District Attorney Larry Krasner and our rates of gun deaths. Tuesday night’s disparaging remarks came after he inaccurately referenced “poll watchers” being ejected during Tuesday’s initial voting sessions.
From Trump’s tone, I picked up that he thinks Philadelphia is a wasteland, reminiscent of when Joaquin Phoenix and his posse went on a rampage through Gotham. The reality is quite the opposite.
Elementary school children from the tristate area don’t get dragged around Old City to learn about panhandling. No, they discover that the founding of this nation happened within a one-mile radius of this city. People don’t wait six months for reservations at Zahav because it is mediocre, and our Art Museum doesn’t house Modiglianis, Renoirs, and Monets because we aren’t cultured.
Good things do happen here, and in fact, we do it big.
The Declaration of Independence was written and signed here, and Betsy Ross was credited with making the original flag here. Prior to that, the Marine Corps was founded here, and Benjamin Franklin proclaimed his love of cougars over younger women here. This city inspired and lit a fire under some of this country’s most prolific thinkers, like Edgar Allan Poe, who in six years wrote the majority of his most famous works here. “I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him,” he famously wrote in “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Philadelphia was the inspiration behind both his main character’s murderous rage, and the kindness that preceded it.
Whatever shade you throw, President Trump, you must know that after years of being the underdog, we can take the punches. That’s why the Rocky theme song plays at all of our races. If after all of that you still doubt our grittiness and passion, then let Hitchbot’s demise be a reminder: Don’t mess with Philly.
Tonya Russell is a freelance writer who currently resides in South Jersey. Her Philly cred includes a strong belief that the mall on Market Street will always be the Gallery.