New York, New York

Righties must think there are two New York Cities. The New York City attacked on September 11, city of the flaming towers and flag-raising firemen, glorified in ten thousand cheesy graphics with giant weeping bald eagles looming in the foreground, is one.

And then there’s the other New York City, populated by ultra-liberal moonbats who have forgotten September 11 and who roll over for terrorists and would surrender if attacked.

This may astonish righties, but it’s the truth: These two New Yorks are one and the same city.

I bring this up now because of reaction to the heckling of Senator McCain at The New School commencement yesterday. Righties are dismissing the heckling as the work of “moonbats” and “Marxists.” We find these comments at the rightie blog Daily Pundit:

So McCain is now to be characterized as a “conservative Republican?” Apparently the AP is already in the tank and lying to advance his candidacy.

Oh, and by the way – do you think it is accidental that McCain has taken to appearing at various outposts of Barking Moonbat Central, so that faux commie whackjobs can screech at him, thereby demonstrating his “conservative” credentials, if only in contrast?

Look for him to do more of it as his campaign rolls into high gear next year.

I’ll come back to the question of why it is conservatives refuse to acknowledge McCain’s clear conservatism in a minute. First, I want to remind the blogger, if indeed he ever realized, that The New School is in the same New York City that was attacked on September 11. Indeed, as most of the campus is south of 14th Street, it was within the area surrounded by police barricades for several days after the attack. The New School’s president, Bob Kerrey, said at the 2002 commencement:

Speaking of challenges, there are many challenges for higher education in the United States today, especially for a university located in New York City, inside the impact zone of the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. …

… Students aren’t the only ones facing challenges at our university. It’s been an amazing 18 months for me as well. This is my second commencement and I have learned a lot since last year.

Most of all I have learned how much love there is between the students, faculty and staff of New School University. I have seen that love expressed by men and women who were willing to go above and beyond the call after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. We were in the impact zone and most of our school was closed for a week. We couldn’t use our largest dormitory for 10 days, and our communications system was shut down for two weeks.

In the weeks after the disaster there were bomb threats that caused the evacuation of the subways used by many of our employees to get to work. Some of our students simply chose to leave fearing the worse. Our enrollments were down, our costs were up, we were struggling with the implementation of our new administrative computer system and our future seemed less than bright. What has happened since has been an inspiration to me. The men and women who have chosen to work and teach at this university simply decided to work a little harder, to sustain the effort through physical fatigue and in short do the one thing that has confounded skeptics over and over again: They refused to give up.

They refused to give up because they know that New School University is a special place, a unique institution of higher education. Thanks to their efforts, today our enrollments are back on target, our financial health has never been better, our Banner system is up and running, delivering more and better on-line services to our students, and I am optimistic about the future of the University, and about the city and the world its graduates will live in and shape.

Mr. Kerry doesn’t say this, but after the students returned to class that September the smells and burning, acrid air of Ground Zero permeated the campus. Students passed armed National Guard as they walked to and from classes. They also lived among the sidewalk memorials that sprang up all over the city in those days; street shrines with pictures of the dead tacked to scaffolding and lamp posts, and with flowers laid on the sidewalk below.

Most of the class who graduated this week are too young to have been enrolled at The New School that day. But The New School student body has nearly three times the number of adult and continuing education students (over 25,000) as degree students (9,300). This means an overwhelming majority of people taking New School classes are New York City residents. And a whopping large majority of New Yorkers are personally acquainted — at least — with people who either escaped the towers that day, or didn’t.

Why did New School students heckle McCain? Here’s a clue:

Noting that Mr. McCain had promised to give the same speech at all of his graduation appearances, Ms. Rohe, who was one of two students selected to speak by university deans, attacked his remarks even before he delivered them.

“Senator McCain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our civic and moral obligation in times of crisis, and I agree,” she said. “I consider this a time of crisis, and I feel obligated to speak.”

She continued, “Senator McCain will also tell us about his strong-headed self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others, and in so doing he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions.

“I am young, and although I don’t profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that pre-emptive war is dangerous and wrong,” she said.

She added, “Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.”

On Thursday, September 13, 2001, I walked to Times Square, where much construction was underway. The construction workers had festooned their hard hats with American flags, and they had hung huge signs from the highest scaffolding calling for vengeance on Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden. Not Saddam Hussein, but Osama bin Laden.

I wonder what those guys would have said then had they known their president would, within a few short months, pull resources away from the hunt for bin Laden and instead bring the might of the United States military against another Middle Eastern bad guy who had had nothing to do with the attacks and who was no threat to the United States? And that, nearly six years later, bin Laden would still be free? What would they have said if someone predicted the President and his party would exploit the attacks shamefully for political advantage while doing next to nothing to make the United States better prepared for terrorist attacks? On that day, they would not have listened to such talk.

Well, folks, they’re listening to it now. Because that’s what happened. It isn’t New Yorkers who have forgotten what happened on September 11. It’s the brainwashed, wingnut, kill-the-Islamofascist Right who have forgotten what happened on September 11.

Righties simultaneously slam New Yorkers for being liberal wusses and soft on terrorism. But they are shocked when New Yorkers refuse to sit and listen politely to someone they associate with the escape of bin Laden and the exploitation of the September 11 dead.

And to those who are critical of the students for being intolerant — can you name any liberals, especially antiwar liberals, who were even invited to speak at conservative college graduations? Let me know when Liberty invites Ted Kennedy or Russ Feingold to be the commencement speaker, and then we’ll see how tolerant conservative students are.

Back to McCain’s conservative credentials — during the 2000 primaries the Bush campaign successfully painted McCain as “liberal” when in fact, based on his voting record, he’s one of the most conservative members of the Senate. Righties have a remarkable tendency to not only believe what they are told but to retain that belief for prolonged periods of time in the face of overwhelming empirical evidence to the contrary. Michael Kinsley noted that because moderates find him likable, they persuade themselves that he agrees with them when, in fact, he does not. “He says plainly that he is for the war, or against abortion choice, and people hear the opposite. It’s a gift, I guess,” Kinsley says. Oddly, McCain is well-liked among people who disagree with him on nearly every issue, but disparaged among people who do agree with him on issues as “too liberal.” Go figure.

32 thoughts on “New York, New York

  1. It’s such a pity that the terrorists didn’t attack Salt Lake City or Boise. Maybe then righties wouldn’t have to see two cities. Except that they still might. It’s amazing what being attacked will do to make you focus on the real attacker.

    To an extent, I’m actually quite proud that McCain says very plainly that he’s anti-abortion and pro-Iraq war, and pro-all these other stupid conservative tricks. He’s not trying to hide the conservatism, like so many other weasel word politicians. Plus, it makes it easier for me to explain to my moderate friends why they really, really shouldn’t vote for him.

  2. In her remarks, Ms. Rohe also offered this observation: “We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet” Quite an astute observation, don’t you think, from someone who attended a school where “the smells and burning, acrid air of Ground Zero permeated the campus.” Had McCain chosen to he might have pointed out that stunning inconsistency. After all, why capture Osama if we have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet (a little less living, I might add, after Osama’s handiwork). But he was too courteous, or more likely, too grown up to embarrass someone for the kind of silly remark typical of self-important children. in the end, all the hecklers at the New School proved was that they could learn a thing or two about tolerance and respect from the students at Liberty University, and, of course, from John McCain. perhaps, when they do grow up (if that isn’t a vain hope) they will come to realize that the man they mocked had come to defend their rights even as they disdained, and by so doing proved himself to be, honestly, to be a better American than they have yet become.

  3. Oh, marshall, marshall, you are too funny! “Learn a thing or two about tolerance from the students at [Jerry Falwell’s] Liberty University….”! “Why capture Osama….”?! What planet have you been living on? You’re even more confused than the young lady you’re criticizing. (If she even said what you’re claiming she did, which is suspect considering the remainder of your comment.)

  4. In her remarks, Ms. Rohe also offered this observation: “We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet” Quite an astute observation, don’t you think, from someone who attended a school where “the smells and burning, acrid air of Ground Zero permeated the campus.”

    It would have been nice if you had provided a link to the full text of the speech. I googled for the quote you provide so that I could see the context, and it didn’t turn up. May I assume you are misquoting Ms. Rohe to smear her?

    Assuming the quote is accurate, — those of us who understand what happened realize you can’t live in fear. You have to get on the subways like the ones bombed in London, and the commuter trains like the ones bombed in Spain, and work in the high-rise office buildings like the Empire State and Rockefeller Center that are far more likely to be terrorist targets than whatever little backwater you live in. And you vow to yourself that it’s far more important to maintain the integrity of the Bill of Rights than sell out liberty in the name of “security.” Give me liberty, or give me death, indeed.

    So go ahead and be afraid, stupid rightie, and drag the rest of the righties into the fear hole you live in. And may I suggest that any talk of “rights” coming from your mouth is a bit like a Klansman (or one of Jerry Falwell’s fundies) talking about tolerance. Clearly, you don’t know what the word means.

  5. Ok , marshall…let me explain this to you slow so even you will understand: Maybe YOU are afraid…but a young girl in New York City who lived thru this has courage enough to stand without fear.And you say she is the one who is silly and self important?LOL…

    This gal is not afraid of bin laden, that is not why she wants him caught…he needs to be caught so he can stand trial for his crimes..look up this word in the dictionary:JUSTICE…get back to me when you righties learn the meaning….or do you believe that the people of New York don’t deserve justice?

    Meanwhile you seem to be wetting your pants with fear…whats the matter , are you afraid dear leader won’t be able to protect you the same way he failed on 911?When you do grow up(if that isn’t a vain hope) maybe you will understand why you shouldn’t elect a president too stupid to prevent such horrid events such as 911.When you grow up maybe you will see what you and other bush voters have done to destroy this great country….

    John Mccain is a bush enabler…he has not done one God damned thing to defend anyones rights…in the past 6 years he has done nothing but grab his ankles and assume the position for bush…so I am sure as long as he knows his place he is fine with you….but I recall the way your own party treated Mccain in 2000..did you call bush a silly self important child then?

    Your own party won’t listen to Mccain: Recall his anti torture bill and bush’s “signing statement” where bush declared the right to break that law ..knowing the person who wrote it was once tortured himself…..did you attack bush for being a silly self important child then?

    Your intellictual dishonesty overwhelms me

    And to top it all off you say those kids can learn from Mccain? Learn what? How to allow a draft dodger to call you nuts after being held POW?, followed by how to kiss the persons ass for the next 6 years? What they can learn from Mccain is WHO NOT TO BE….the man didn’t even have the self respect to stand up for himself when the right accused him of fathering a black child..

    It seems fine whenever your party wants to disrespect Mccain but God forbid when someone with no power speaks her mind at HER graduation….

    Please go lock yourself in a duct taped safe room if you are so afraid. This is a dangerous world and all kinds of things can happen you will NEVER be safe…you are worthless to America crippled in fear, waiting helplessly for dear leader to save you from some bad guy. That girl you insulted: she is our future..YOU are our past….She has the guts to go out everyday, un- afraid, proud and ready to face the world..she knows it’s dangerous, but she is going anyhow with no fear….while you change your pants and wring your hands in fear.. what good are you to America??? This young lady, sir, if a far better American than you will ever be,, perhaps you can take a lesson.

  6. Great post, Barbara, as usual. About what you said on liberal/antiwar speakers not even being invited to commencement speeches at conservative colleges, there is at least one example of that happening: Chris Hedges at Rockford College. And he was booed off the stage. It’s instructive to go back and see how the necons reacted to THAT incident.

  7. McCain jumped the shark a few years ago and I wouldn’t cross the speech to hear him speak, just like I turned down an invitation to hear W at George Washington U. I don’t like being lied to.

    BTW, life is case sensitive. This Marshall has nothing to do with the other marshall.

  8. comment no 4 – Maha

    I loved your last paragraph! Let’s kick that guy and his kind down the old rabbit hole.

  9. Is it bizarre that our city and D.C. bore the brunt of Al Qaeda’s attacks, yet we both vote overwhelmingly Democrat? It isn’t bizarre at all. Al Qaeda doesn’t flourish in societies that are free, it is based in societies of represssion, violence and chaos. Bombing and phone-tapping won’t stop them; only promoting freedom and democracy around the world will do that.

    Is it bizarre that the Republicans have won so many elections campaigning on 9/11, but they show such contempt for those of us whose cities were attacked? Sure is.

    And it can’t be said enough- liberty is a risk a free society must take.

  10. I remember Jon Stewart saying on his show something to the effect that New Yorkers are the people most familiar at first hand with both terrorism and gays, but it’s people in the sticks who are most likely to cower under their beds in fear of terrorism and gays.

    As for McCain, most liberals knew all along he was conservative but they respected him because they thought he had honesty and integrity, and they detested the way he was swift-boated in South Carolina in 2000. But now it’s clear that he’s just another huckster cynically pandering to the religious-right fundamentally retarded. I’d say I’m ashamed he represents my state, but then I’d say that about almost all Arizona politicians.

  11. Liberty University is a cesspool of bigots and homophobes. If there really was a god he’d wipe that oversized outhouse off the face of the earth..Liberty University? what a contradiction! The students there are in emotional bondage, and are being feed a steady diet of intellectual tripe and intolerance. It should be re-named to something more fitting, like Cotton Mathers University or Torquemada U.

  12. what’s even more forgotten is how a large part of New York think 9/11 was an inside job.

  13. what’s even more forgotten is how a large part of New York think 9/11 was an inside job.

    I don’t think so. A fringe of New Yorkers, maybe. Most people familiar with the towers think the notion that someone could have wired them to implode without anyone noticing is beyond absurd. When I explain the “inside job” theory to New Yorkers who are not into blogging they laugh, heartily.

  14. It is always amazing to me that the right-nutters who live in the backwaters of America are the ones trembling in their wet underwear about terrorist attacks.

    We, New Yorkers — as someone else pointed out — do not have the luxury of behaving like whining victims. We have to take the subway and the buses every day to go to work. We have to go through security turnstiles and have our bags X-rayed at every turn. We have to look at police armed with machine guns in our train stations, etc…

    We were to ones who lived through that horror, who lost friends, family, and colleagues. We were the once who had to return to our offices after 9/11 even though they stank of smoke and God-knows-what else. We were the once who looked at a skyline that, for four months, was blackened with smoke.

    Finally, we were the ones who had to put up with the ghouls from out of town who flocked to downtown NYC to get a vicarious thrill.

    So, don’t talk to us about fear and freedom. We, New Yorkers, are free because we know we have to go on with our lives, no matter what happens.

    As for McCain, he was always an arch-conservative. Now, he is also a political whore. He has sold his soul to the religious right cesspool in the name of political ambition.

    I am glad he was heckled at the New School. He came there to hijack the students and faculty’s most important day of the year out of political expediency. They were not duped. It was their day, not his.

    So in the future, would all the rightwinger hillbillies stay away from New York City? We don’t want any whiny wankers poluuting the streets of our beloved city.

  15. To spearNmagicHelmet — I respectfully request that you not litter my blog comments with “9/11 was an inside job” crapola. As an eyewitness to the collapse of the towers I have some really big buttons about what happened, and although I try to be tolerant of alternative opinions the “inside job” theories push those buttons, big time. And, please note, this is my blog.

    I will not allow my blog to be used to spread misinformation and misunderstanding. Therefore, all links to “inside job” sites will be deleted. I don’t want to block you from commenting here, but if you disregard my request you will be barred from posting here in the future.

  16. About the inside job thing..I don’t wish to guess on whether it was or wasn’t…..I just want to point out we have a government so bad that some people really do wonder if they could have done something like this. I cannot recall a president in my lifetime that I actually thought I could not trust with my life….but this jerk in office …….I KNOW I cannot trust him….I know he COULD kill 3000 of his own to make a political point…I KNOW he has no regard for life ….I KNOW after watching how he “handled” Katrina that the suffering of his own doesn’t even bother him….he is cruel , insane and anyone that would put anything past him is risking their own life……….

    As I said, I don’t find the need to guess either way….I just wanted to point out that to some extent I can’t blame people for being suspect of bush….he has earned our dis- trust again and again………………IF we found out, say in 20 years ,bush had some part in 911 I would not be suprised….he just has a soul that black that one could believe it could be true…

    I hope I didn’t step on anyones toes pointing this out…I have a great deal of respect for Maha, this blog and those who comment here…My heart still aches for those who’s lives were forever changed on 911, and for those lost …Please take my comments with the deep respect intended…..please feel free to remove this comment if you think it is out of line..

  17. Justine,

    I can also understand why people would get swept into conspiracy theories. As evidence mounts that this Administration has no regard for the people and the laws, people tend to become a bit paranoid.

    What we have most to fear at this point, is the fact that the Administration and the GOP are increasingly desperate about losing their iron grip on power in November. I would not put it past the Administration to pull a fast one in the name of National Security (a.k.a. Covering Bush’s Ass) just ahead of the elections.

    I hope I am just being paranoid.

  18. Justme, you are right on the money. I don’t think there was an inside job but I strongly suspect some people in high places knew in advance 9/11 was going to happen, and decided to profit from it. Remember the airline put options? Somebody made out like a bandit. The story was all over the news for several days afterwards, and then was suddenly cut off. Did the paper trail lead in a politically embarrassing direction?

    There are many, many awkward and unanswered questions about 9/11. It could be that they have innocent answers, in which case the best thing for the Bush regime to do would be to come clean and admit that they were incompetent in preventing the tragedy. Instead they have stalled, stonewalled, lied, obfuscated, suppressed information, hidden the truth and swift-boated everyone who asks questions. They sure look like they have an awful lot to hide.

    Again I stress that I’m not buying into the conspiracy theories but I don’t have to – I already know that Bush and his gang are a bunch of criminal traitors.

  19. Justme, I hear what you’re saying. When you’ve blown your credibilty by deceptions and lies after the fact, it kinda puts all possibilities in the area of consideration before the fact.

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  21. One of McCain’s lackeys wrote a nasty piece in the Huffington Post attacking Jean Rohe. You know that the Republicans must be desperate when they dispatch one of their attack poodles to smear and insult a 22-year old who has the nerve to exercize her right to free speech in a public forum.

    Go read the responses: except for the occasional delusional troll, the readers are giving him and McCain an earful.

    McCain is a thin-skinned bully.

    McCain was always an arch-conservative but he seemed to have integrity. Now, he is just another sleazy politician who will pander to anyone no matter how vile.

  22. Amen, Evil Progressive. It’s always been my theory that the people who are most removed from terrorism are the people who are most afraid of it. We New Yorkers have to deal with the affects of 9/11 daily. And we still haven’t gotten things quite right yet. Just last week, there was a totally bungled fire drill in my office building (a skyscraper in Midtown, ahem) wherein most of my coworkers were convinced that the building was on fire for a while and… didn’t know what to do. (This is actually the second time something has gone wrong with the alarm system in the building just this year.) This is a city-wide problem, with some security measures (better communication equipment for first responders, cameras in every subway car, etc.) not scheduled to be up and running until 2009 or later. Why are we still so behind on emergency preparedness? Where is Osama? I say, Bravo! to those at the New School who protested.

  23. I’ve been tepid or cold about McCain for a long time. Sometimes, I admire his desire for consensus and his more moderate stance on certain issues, but then he always disappoints me. And you’re right, Devil’s Advocate. He is thin-skinned. He has a unpleasant, self-righteous temper. But I would guess that his desire to reach out to the left might be curtailed a bit now, wouldn’t you think? Jean Rohe may have made a more effective protest than she realized.

    I admire you New Yorkers. You were a model to us all, in the way you responded to the 9/11 hit. You made our nation proud and you made the world proud of our shared humanity. How I wish this administration had not squandered it so badly! I can empathize totally with the trauma you must still face every day. This is not to say you’re “frightened,” by any means. I would say that you’re wary and cautious and even more “street smart.” (You already have a reputation for that!) But the pain you’ve endured because of the loss of loved ones and fellow workers and neighbors must give you an added sense of having a very sore wound indeed. And it’s no wonder you feel such resentment toward those who continue to “use” this very local tragedy in such a callous way for their own national agendas. What’s ironic is that you have Hilary representing your state. Discounting her run for president, how do you feel she has performed for the state of New York? I don’t hear much about that and I’m curious. Maybe Maha could do a bit on that sometime?
    Remember yellow and orange alerts? Didn’t you guys in New York love that? I swing back and forth between thinking it was either incompetence or manipulation. Could it be both?

    I’m on the West Coast and what makes me nervous is that my sons travel up the coast to college, which is located in the same neighborhood as the port of Long Beach. We’ve had warnings for years that precautions to prevent terrorist attacks (dirty bombs, etc.) are woefully inadequate.
    (This article makes it sound like it’s new news. Another case of “How could we have known that…?” Oh, please!)

    So?( I ask the Bush Administration) What’s the news on this situation? Oh, I know. Wiretaps.

  24. It gave me headaches the way that, during the GOP Convention, they used the spectre of slain New Yorkers to justify any evil the gov’t commits. Yet I’d never seen New Yorkers as unified as we were in wanting Bush the hell out of our city. I don’t know which is a greater insult to New Yorkers – vowing to get the people behind the terrorist attacks, then doing an about-face and saying bin Laden “isn’t a priority” while invading a country that didn’t attack us and wasn’t involved in 9/11? Or justifying a war, torture, and destroying our civil liberties, “to prevent another 9/11,” when they did nothing to prevent the first 9/11, and have pointedly resisted taking steps like securing the ports, hiring more first responders (Bush actually cut funding for cops and firefighters after 9/11) and actually attacking Al Qaeda instead of going after whoever’s oil is easiest to grab.

    I also have a question about Sam’s post. Why is it ironic that Hillary is representing New York? Just in the general sense that she’s a Democrat, and we hate the Republicans even more after 9/11? If that’s the case, I’d say the real irony is that we’re on our fourth term of Republican mayor (two of Giuliani, two of Bloomberg). But both of those guys are well to the left of the national GOP (at least, Rudy was when he was here – he’s since become a soulless Bush shill).

  25. Schroeder –
    I used the term “ironic” loosely, based upon some of the posts on Hilary here in the recent past (Regarding Hilary – May 6, 2006, in particular). (As usual, I was thinking several things at once and didn’t express them.) I meant that Hilary had seemed the dream candidate to represent New York “back in the day.” It’s my understanding that much of the base has become increasingly disenchanted with her over these last few years, however. That’s what made me wonder how the citizens of New York view her as a Senator, New York City Democrats in particular. I mean I wouldn’t want her as President, but I wonder if she makes a decent U.S. Senator. Is that clear as mud?

  26. marshall: “perhaps, when they do grow up (if that isn’t a vain hope) they will come to realize that the man they mocked had come to defend their rights even as they disdained”

    You have *got* to be kidding me. You really think McCain’s public speaking tour has anything to do with defending anyone’s rights? He’s positioning himself for a run at the presidency. Every time he steps up to the podium, he’s marketing himself. Don’t delude yourself (or anyone else) by trying to dress it up as some noble crusade on behalf of America’s young people.

    It’s also very interesting that some folks claim to support the right of the young woman to hold a dissenting opinion, yet immediately turn around and decry her ‘rudeness’ for choosing to express it. I didn’t realize that Freedom of Speech came with a manners clause.

    (Besides, even if there *were* a rule that one must be polite when expressing one’s controversial opinions, Ms. Rohe’s remarks were far more measured, temperate, and well-considered than those of Coulter, Limbaugh, or numerous other rightwing mouthpieces. If political discourse has coarsened to the point where Republican feelings are starting to be bruised, look no farther than your own doorstep for the multitude of reasons why.)

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