New Yorkers who watched the inauguration ceremonies of Bill de Blasio saw something quite extraordinary take place - the conversion of the Big Apple to the Apple that is Rotten to its core. Not one speaker came to praise our city - all were there to bury it and focus only on its racism and indifference to social justice. Starting with Harry Belafonte, a singer from Trinidad whose career was internationally launched from this country but who espouses anti-Americanism at every opportunity, we heard a litany of our many sins, notably our treatment of the black man. Instead of using his time at the podium to inspire his black brothers to stay in school, stay off drugs and marry before reproducing - he seized on New York’s stop and frisk law which has already been modified and needs no further comment. Instead of chastising his black brothers to stop murdering (mostly their own brethren), he bemoaned the fact that our country has the largest population of black prisoners in the world. On to the Reverend Fred Lucas Jr. (chaplain for the Dept of Sanitation), dressed in an elegant coat, scarf and hat, who referred to New York as a plantation but failed to say which massah gave him the fancy threads.
Letitia James, our new public advocate, chose to hold hands with 11 year old, gum-chewing Dasani Coates, the subject of a five-part series in the Times about the failure of NYC to adequately provide for our homeless. For political purposes, Dasani came to be a heroine instead of the victim of drug-addicted parents who sired 8 children, lost their jobs, have each served jail time and spend their disability benefits on such important priorities as redeeming the father’s previously hocked gold teeth. Ms. James’ speech was another rant about what we have failed to do for our least fortunate and her pledge to see that this changes. (Memo to smart journalist: check back on the Coates family at the end of de Blasio’s first term) It was an arrow aimed at the departing mayor who spurred development of real estate projects and stadiums but it said nothing about the generosity of the man who contributed 658 million dollars of his own money to various charities within our city. Somebody paid for young Dasani’s intricately braided hairstyle and the winter outfits worn by her whole family, not to mention the new apartment that was provided for them by the end of the Times series. Not one word of acknowledgment from Ms. James for any of these “entitlements.”
There was a time when we New Yorkers found much to praise in our city. We saw correctly that it was the cultural capital of the world - the center for art, theater, music, dance - the very fields represented by Belafonte and Cynthia Nixon who remained mum on that subject. We saw correctly that it was the financial hub of America, a polyglot city made up of immigrants from everywhere in the world whose integration into our school system is facilitated by interpreters for every language represented. But the biggest failures in our school system are not among the foreigners who tend to learn English quickly and recognize that education is the key to achievement. The biggest failures are among our homegrown minority populations whose illegitimacy rate exceeds 70% - a statistic that guarantees the continuing spiral of poverty, school drop-outs, drugs and violence. Not one exhortation on the part of any of the speakers to use this change in administration as an impetus for self-help and determination to stay in school. “It takes a village,” Bill Clinton reminded us, passing the buck to anyone with some to keep supporting the underclass.
We know that inequality exists in New York, as it does in every other city, but we are also a mecca of unparalleled opportunity for those who are capable of seizing it. Ask the Vietnamese, the Koreans, the Russians and other Eastern Europeans who clamor to get here and make lives for themselves and their families. Ask middle-class Hispanic and Black families whose children are doctors, lawyers, teachers and even first lady of our great city. Where was the legitimate pride New Yorkers should take in our energy, our industry and our innovation? If the inauguration ceremonies were indicative of what de Blasio sees as his sole purview, all the contributors to the medical, cultural and educational establishments of our city should think twice about their discretionary charitable support. The message from de Blasio was loud and clear: his administration is here to attend to the rights and demands of the neediest among us. Period. Those of us who have worked hard, paid taxes and made sacrifices in order to support our families and provide for our children’s education should feel guilty for having more than the downtrodden. We should work even harder and pay even more taxes so that Dosani Coates, her 7 siblings and her irresponsible parents can continue to live off the dole and buy some more gold teeth.
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