Jewish World Review August 23, 2004 / 6 Elul, 5764
New Yawk errs in playing nice with protesters
Next week, people who hate Republicans plan to release swarms of mice in New York City to terrorize delegates to the National Republican Convention.
Republican-haters plan on dressing up as RNC volunteers, and giving false directions to little blue hair ladies from Kansas, sending them into the sectors of New York City that are unfit for human habitation.
They plan on throwing pies and L-rd knows what else at Republican visitors to the city. Prostitutes with AIDS plan to seduce Republican visitors, and discourage the use of condoms, according to liberal journalist Ted Rall.
New York City is a place renowned for coddling no one tourists, babies, old people. And yet, its new mayor, a Boston transplant, plans to coddle these junior terrorists.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be issuing buttons that read "Peaceful Political Activist," which will entitle the bearer to discounts at The Bronx Zoo, the Museum of Sex, Applebee's, plays such as "Mamma Mia" and "Naked Boys Singing," and other random entertainment venues.
By wearing these buttons, and obtaining these nifty little discounts, the mice-releasers, pie-throwers and AIDS-spreaders are entering into an implicit agreement and the rest of society: "Give me $5 off a chicken entree at Applebee's, and I promise not to terrorize you." That oughtta work. Not.
Perhaps the Department of Homeland Security should hand out buttons at the convention that say "Peaceful Islamic Radical." All the scary-looking guys with fertilizer on their shoes, wires coming out of their pockets, and duct-tape visible under their shirts can walk around with these buttons, enjoying nice-priced margaritas and reduced-admission live sex shows before they blow up Madison Square Garden.
Mayor Bloomberg overlooks this basic truth: The kind of protestor who is going to report to headquarters to pick up a button, and who is dorky enough to wear such a button, is not vicious enough to release rodents or toss urine on well-groomed Republican men and women in golf shirts and khaki pants.
Bloomberg mistakenly thinks he can engage the protestor-terrorists in rational discourse, encouraging them to speak their mind in an orderly way, and rewarding them if they do.
Perhaps because he is a New Englander, he has faith that cool dispositions and dialogue between opponents can work. New York City, though only a few miles south of New England, just doesn't do political civility well. I can say such an unflattering thing. I was born and raised there.
New Yorkers understand and respect one thing: strength. That's why Rudy Giuliani, a New York City native, did so well as mayor. He flexed his muscles early, arrested petty criminals, and turned a deaf ear to cries that he was violating the civil rights of squeegee men and other vagrants who terrorized residents and tourists. He didn't try to make nice with them. Did he go to excess? Probably. But because of his successes, New York City is at least a destination worth considering again for Republican delegates, families and protestors who prefer not to get mugged while on the job.
David Dinkins, Giuliani's predecessor and another native, tried to make nice with the enemy. He let the 1991 Crown Heights riot rage between blacks and Jews for three days, so people could express their feelings without the oppressive crush of the police state.
Protestors are complaining already that the FBI is visiting them and sowing intimidation. Who cares? As long as they're not planning to break the law, protestors should have no reason to fear inquiries from law enforcement officials.
Bloomberg is calling for a sensitive war on protestor-terrorists, the way John Kerry is naively calling for a more sensitive war on international terrorists. Instead of manufacturing smiley-face buttons to pin on potentially unruly protestors, Bloomberg should be manufacturing plastic handcuffs.
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© 2004, Bernadette Malone