World, Politics

Snapshot: Hate melts in the frozen streets of Manhattan

By Janet Smith 30 January 2017

Anti white supremacy, anti hate, this protest had a drawling charisma all of its own. When we march, we plunder the streets. Whistles fire. Regiments of red sweep in musical motion under the charge of a conductor with a placard for a baton. By JANET SMITH.

Words heave over tightly stretched bosoms, rank and file recalling our liberation armies in cap-flattened weaves and battered Converse.

That’s not so in New York. There’s no sacred song, no pounding of feet as heavy knees bounce up and down in a raucous step beat down through three generations.

But the prams, woolly pompoms and buttoned leg-warmers of the Big Apple kept coming in the thousands to chant love on Sunday.

They may not have the fires and tyres of our revolutionary energy, but their outrage at the Muslim ban was lit from the same box of matches. Anti white supremacy, anti hate, it had a drawling charisma all of its own as it moved from Battery Park near Wall Street to the Manhattan offices of Customs and Border Control.

As it passed through the Church Street channel where billowing smoke once gained on screaming tides fleeing the Twin Towers attacks, the people shouted louder: No ban! No registry! Muslims are welcome here!

The NYPD stood firm, thumbs in trouser pockets, badges gleaming, at all the intersections, Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, once married to a Kennedy, and Mayor Bill de Blasio their political custodians.

Here in the world’s most charmed city, they helped create a bulwark against a president born on their streets, whose executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries and halting the entry of refugees into the US sparked uprisings across 30 others.

You can’t expect nostalgic brigades in a new war. Your lieutenants and your five-star generals are still emerging. And here in New York, these look like filmmaker and writer Michael Moore, Puerto Rican politician Nydia Margarita Velázquez who serves in the House of Representatives, and Senators Cory Booker and Chuck Schumer, who rallied the troops in the park before the walk went down.

Many, including Velasquez and Schumer, had been out in force the night before at John F Kennedy airport. On Sunday, they tried to find a connection with a spirit that could, as it did in ‘68, transform a country. Bar Moore, South Africans don’t know them – yet. But we surely will.

On the march past the World Trade Centre construction, the crowd chanted “No wall, no registry, fuck white supremacy” as a lone Trump supporter briefly broke in from the sidewalk.

There was a flurry of laughter, and a Jewish family in front, father and son in yarmulkas, and the mother and daughter in black stockings and stout shoes, shouted louder: “No hate! No fear!”

New York’s embarrassment was real. Even if its disgrace at having birthed Trump was setting in, for a moment its blues had melted away. DM

Photo:  People listen during an interfaith rally to show support for the Muslim and immigrant communities in New York, New York, USA, 27 January 2017. The rally was organized in response to proposed actions by President Donald Trump. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

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