My late father was born and raised in New York City…
Over the course of 79 years, he became a military man, the husband of one woman for more than half a century, a baptized Catholic, the father of 3 and grandfather of 5, a decorated war veteran, a Southerner…and someone who, by choice, never again dwelled in New York City.
That is not to say that New York ever stopped being “home” to him. During my childhood, my parents would take us on alternating summer vacations; one year we would drive to New York and visit with my father’s family, and the next year we would drive to Oklahoma City for the Overton Family Reunion with my mother’s people.
I was always more excited to go to New York, and not because I liked my father’s family more. I could feel something different “in the air” every time we arrived, crossing the George Washington Bridge and traveling through the Lincoln Tunnel. The energy of that place is different, palpably so.
As I grew older, I adopted my father’s view; I remain fond of New York City, but I’ve not set foot there in nearly three decades. My father had New York values, for good or ill, and I imagine he might have been somewhat conflicted by this exchange from the last Republican presidential debate:
The conflict would not have been whether my father knew what those values were, as Senator Cruz indicated to a current New Yorker that she may not. Nor would it have involved Donald Trump’s defense of New Yorkers; my father would have concurred. The conflict would be between the values his hometown gave him, and the values it now makes most apparent to the world.
For Senator Cruz is correct: New York City is a “haven” for liberal elitists, who support abortion and homosexuality, who oppose individual gun ownership and the open practice of Christianity any place other than in churches, and anytime other than Sundays…and who see their values differently than other Americans see them. New York City conservatives, those that remain, hardly rule that roost and, judging by the 1999 interview Trump gave to Tim Russert, are more than a little bit influenced by the city’s predominant liberalism:
Stauncher conservatives may conclude that New York City is simply a nice place to be FROM.
Cruz is also correct in saying the Empire State has many good people who do not share liberal political values, but are no less governed by the liberals in Lower Manhattan, and in Albany. Unsurprisingly, those representing the city felt it appropriate to hit back at Senator Cruz, either indicating how its residents unite in taking offense at his remarks, or responding in more typical New York fashion…
For his part, Trump said some things that were true, and some things that only seem true, when speaking of New York’s response to the World Trade Center’s destruction.
Without controversy, they city’s response was amazing for its valor, its compassion, its demonstration of an indomitable spirit. It was indeed unique because of the city’s makeup, including the fact that only New York City HAD the World Trade Center, and the other resources that it could bring to bear because of its wealth, the size of its population, the fact it is a port city, etc. However, the basis of that response has nothing to do with the CITY’s values…
On a small island in Upper New York Bay in the Port of New York and New Jersey, a plaque, whose image appears below, resides on the inner wall of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal:
Lady Liberty’s worldwide welcome, is to those coming to America, not simply to New York City. Given that an estimated 40% of Americans can trace their ancestry to someone who came through Ellis Island, neither all of the “huddled masses” nor all of their values remained in the Five Boroughs. The same bravery and resolve in the face of danger and uncertainty, the same compassion for the endangered neighbor and stranger alike, the same readiness to rebuild what others destroyed resides in every corner of the nation.
Consequently, those were not New York values shown on and after 9/11; those were AMERICAN values, albeit with a New York City accent. The same values were simultaneously on display at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and even more brilliantly displayed by those on Flight 93, who forced their hijacked airliner down in a field in Pennsylvania rather than allow themselves to be passengers on a death ride for other Americans.
I daresay that no matter what location in America had been attacked that day, the response would have been the same, according to American values in times of duress:
- • Run to the battle,
• Help the hurting or the stumbled,
• Sacrifice and not let others fall or leave the fallen behind,
• Stop the attack, punish the attacker, and
• Rebuild what was destroyed.
So far, those with a disdain for liberty have managed only to thinly cover those values with a politically correct veneer. When anyone cuts through that veneer, and especially when that cut draws blood from their fellow citizens, Americans remain willing to address the situation, those affected, and also those who caused harm, according to American values. But those values are being undermined…by the influence of government that is increasingly liberal/progressive…and that works to repair and thicken the veneer, so future cuts are less likely to yield an American values response.
When an illegal alien – with seven felony convictions and who had been deported five times previously – killed Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, using a gun (indirectly) supplied by the federal government, both the federal government and the criminal justice system acted contrary to American values. American values would do more to keep a foreign felon off the streets in this country. American values, upon discovering such a man, would act against him sooner, even dismantling the “sanctuary city” laws that allow American citizens to become prey. But American government values differ from those of the American people, whether through incompetence or through intent.
It is similar for the inner cities, where people of color die violently at rates normally reserved for combat zones. The same government “involvement” that frustrated American values by protecting and enabling Steinle’s killer, does more to maintain deadly environments in American cities than allow what is necessary to create more tolerable communities. Again, the government’s values differ from those of the people, and cover the people’s values so that only extreme and acute adversity might bring those values to the fore. Strangely, the carnage in Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere fail to move the American people to action. While some consider it a race issue, it likely has more to do with elected officials telling everyone that they will – and that only they can – address it, and convincing killer and victim alike that their help should come from one or more government programs…
My father lived by his New York values – or rather the American values he learned growing up in New York City. He knew who he was, knew what his values were; no one could redefine them for him, tell him he did not understand them, or offer a defense of them to benefit a political agenda.
Unfortunately, there are a decreasing number of New Yorkers, or Americans, like my father…and an increasing number prepared to line up and vote for a government whose values increasingly differ from their own, no matter from where they hail, and who is very much interested in telling Americans what their values are.