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.

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