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Politics

TEHRAN? I COULD HAVE SWORN THIS IS NEW YORK!

If you read a lot of conservative and Republican opinion pieces, after a while you barely notice the pervasive anti-New York bias in a lot of their messages. It is so pervasive and matter-of-fact you sort of read through it to get at what they are really trying to say. It seems to be an underlying assumption, like the sky is blue and New Yorkers are rotten subversives bent on destroying America. Being a lifer in New York, born and raised here, you sort of get used to all manner of blatant and subtle put-downs of your home town. And being a New Yorker, you really don’t give a rat’s ass who approves or disapproves of you, but once in a while you wonder how this attitude came to be so prevalent. And you realize just how lucky and blessed you are to live in New York City, a place like no other.

You know, of course, that’s it’s not Utopia and has its fair share of problems, but you look at it like Winston Churchill looked at governments when he said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Well, that’s New York, and people have been knocking it forever but have yet to come up with a better idea. So some invent a New York loaded with subversives and liberals. I’m a liberal and yet I don’t find all that many people who share my views. My own children often disagree with my politics. Most people are fairly conservative around here. 

As far as subversives go, I’ve met very few, and I’ve met thousands and thousands of people. I could count them on the fingers of one hand and get change, and they’ve been harmless fools whose only transgression was being boring. Last I checked, the biggest subversive in America in the past 20 years or so, Timothy McVeigh, wasn’t from New York City. He came from a small town in western New York State, Great Lakes country. He graduated high school and then joined the army and saw combat in the first Iraqi war, earned a Bronze Star and received an honorable discharge. He was neither boring nor interesting, he just sort of existed in an invisible sort of way, and seemed like a typical son of Middle America; quiet, hardworking and earnest. Until he killed 168 pople with a truck bomb in Oklahoma City, that is. He didn’t seem so typical then. So, you never know who’s who. Why paint anybody with any brush when you don’t know them?

But people like to equate New York with perceived enemy locales like Moscow at one time or these days Tehran. Now, I don’t know much about Tehran except that it is the capital of Iran and home to some decidedly poor excuses for human beings in the halls of power there, but I can’t really summon up any animosity towards the city itself or Iranians in general any more than I ever considered Moscow to be an evil city filled with evil human beings. Maybe if I got to know them and they annoyed the crap out me, but only then. Demonizing strangers and creating enemies where there are none is something most New Yorkers leave to others. And if we get to be designated as Sodom and Gomorah in the eyes of some people who have never set foot in the place or met any of us, well, who cares? We still have to get up every morning and go about our business, and there’s enough to worry about in this world other than people’s silly impressions of you and your city.

New York is often lumped in with Los Angeles as being somehow different from, and hostile to America. I know about as much about Los Angeles as I do about Tehran, but my general impressions are that it’s a very American City, Spanish name and all. Hollywood is there, lots of Mexicans, plenty of blonde haired people, palm trees and great weather all the time. Sounds okay except for their appalling lack of snow. What Los Angeles and New York do have in common, though, is that the American Dream Machine was invented in those two cities, the ideas by which all of America defines itself. In New York it is located on Madison Avenue in the advertising industry, in L.A. it is in Hollywood and their movies. 

So how these two cities came to represent to many Americans all that is wrong with our nation is a mystery. Almost half of all Americans can trace an ancestor to where I live, in Brooklyn, and every single American has enjoyed the movies great and otherwise that are produced in Hollywood. Both New York City and Los Angeles attract more tourists than any other American cities. So you wonder. Was it something we said? Do some people still need a bogeyman that bad that they make up stuff about places and the people in them? Seems pretty odd. Nobody seems to complain about Wichita or Denver. Well, that being said, let’s put the finger on who the real bad people in America are. That would be  the city and the people of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Now there’s an enclave of godless liberal subversive traitors if ever there was one. Why Sheboygan? Well, why New York and L.A.? So why not Sheboygan? To hell with those pinko rats bent on unraveling the fabric of American life!

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