Jewish World Review August 30, 2004 / 13 Elul, 5764
Oddness of conservatives in New York
NEW YORK feels odd this weekend, the eve of the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden. But having lived in Manhattan for a little over a year now, I can state the weirdness is not brought about by all the extra precautions against terrorist attacks. New Yorkers are used to that now. It happens every few months when crowds gather for New Year's Eve and the Fourth of July, or when a new plot is exposed. And it's not because anti-Bush anarchists some with very violent records are descending on the city, according to the New York Daily News. On any normal day, you can't go a few blocks in New York City without running into an anti-greed/anti-war/anti-synthetic materials protest.
No, the strangeness in the air in New York City can only be attributed to one factor: flaming, out-of-the-closet, in-your-face festivities for conservative Republicans, hosted by conservative Republicans, at hot spots all over New York places usually reserved for the liberal elite like Gwyneth Paltrow.
Five, six, seven, eight parties a night. And I'm invited? I, the lone right-winger of Greenwich Village, whose idea of a wild night out is hunkering down with one or two other like-minded subversives in a hole-in-the-wall pub, perfecting the Libertarian manifesto, am invited to big glamorous parties on the island of Manhattan? The idea is almost indigestible.
I'd mention where these spectacular fetes are being held, and who is hosting them, but I'm afraid if I did the enemy would sabotage them. (The enemy has nowhere else to gather since a judge just ruled Central Park was off-limits to protesters because they'd destroy the $18 million Great Lawn. Funny how militant environmentalists always ruin the lawn.)
I worry the sight of conservatives openly celebrating a conservative President on the island of Manhattan is likely to enrage the enemy further. In a way, I feel like we're asking for trouble. Like the Orangemen, with their annual parade through Catholic towns in Northern Ireland, commemorating the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
But that's a yearly occurrence, and this is truly a first in New York City in modern times. Maybe conservative Republicans held sway in New York City during the era of the robber barons or something, but for a 31-year-old who grew up under Ed Koch and David Dinkins before fleeing, the sight of hoards of smiling, clean-cut, polite people cavorting and celebrating in the streets of Manhattan creates unbearable cognitive dissonance in my head.
Where is the sound of bongo drums? The scent of incense mixed with reefer? The sight of curse-words and nasty "Bush" innuendo on banners and T-shirts? (Smug note: Former Democrat Mayor Ed Koch, who is smiling, clean-cut, and polite, has seen the light, at age 79, and is endorsing George W. Bush.)
The first revelers arrived in town last weekend. The Bohemian occupants of my apartment building rather, commune have never seen such a sight as the cast of characters who ascended the stairs to my third-floor walk-up with beer, wine and mirth: Republican National Committee staffers wearing button-down shirts and pleated khakis. Pro-life activists sporting giant buttons protesting federally funded embryonic stem cell research. Right-wing journalists buddying up with them for a scoop.
The gathering got so rowdy - and went so late I took the crowd outside to one of the all-night open air cafes on my street. There, two doors down from the Anti-Imperialist, Unoppressive Bargain Bookstore, we hooted and hollered about the ban on gay marriage in the Republican platform amongst hostile tables full of real-life Village People.
Musicians who agree with us are coming into the city to perform for us musicians like Charlie Daniels and Travis Tritt. The gorgeous actress Angie Harmon is co-hosting an event. Is this what life in the Hamptons is like? We wouldn't know; conservatives aren't invited to the Hamptons.
Savor it, I know. If I survive the international terrorists and domestic anarchists this week, it will be back to nights spent bickering with the neighborhood food co-op and the Marxist pamphleteer on the corner.
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© 2004, Bernadette Malone