Opinion » Ted Rall

NYC TO GOP: DROP DEAD

"Making nice" is off the menu at the Republican Convention

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NEW YORK--Hey, you. Yeah, you, the fat lug with the stupid elephant hat. Words can't convey how much we New Yorkers wish you weren't here.

Tourists are pleasantly surprised when New Yorkers act as friendly and polite as the people back home in Maybury. However, delegates to this month's Republican National Convention shouldn't expect to be treated to our standard out-of-towner treatment. The Republican delegates here to coronate George W. Bush are unwelcome members of a hostile invading army. Like the hapless saps whose blood they sent to be spilled into Middle Eastern sands, they will be given intentionally incorrect directions to nonexistent places. Objects will be thrown in their direction. Children will call them obscene names.

They will not be greeted as liberators.

Well aware that it is barren soil for their party's anti-urban, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, overtly racist ideology, Republican leaders have wisely avoided New York City as a convention site for the past 150 years. Even as the rest of America turns red, we New Yorkers remain as liberal as the people's republic of San Francisco: fewer than 18 percent of the citizens of New York's five boroughs (which include relatively conservative places like Staten Island) cast ballots for Bush/Cheney in 2000. But White House strategist Karl Rove sees the continued exploitation of 9/11 for partisan political gain as Bush's key to victory in November. That means bringing the big bash three miles north of the hole where the Twin Towers used to stand, where most of the victims of 9/11 were burned, suffocated, impaled and pulverized.

Making hay of the dead is also the point of this confab's timing. The 2004 Necropublican National Convention is being held a full month later than normal, from August 30 to September 2. The original plan was to have Bush shuttle between Madison Square Garden and Ground Zero for photo ops to coincide with the third anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Bush's visits to the Trade Center site were quietly canceled a few months back after 9/11 survivors expressed revulsion at the idea. But it was too late to change the date.

Anti-Republican sentiment is rising to a fever pitch here as the dog days tick down to the dreaded affair. A poll cited by the local ABC affiliate shows 83 percent of New Yorkers don't want their city to host the RNC. And many of them are planning to do something about it.

Rejecting ex-mayor Ed Koch's call to "make nice" with the party that used the deaths of 2,801 New Yorkers--most of them Democrats--for everything from tax cuts for the rich to building concentration camps at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib to invading Iraq to enrich Dick Cheney and his fellow Halliburton execs, some groups are encouraging liberal-minded New Yorkers to volunteer for the city's squad of official greeters. Creatively altered maps of streets and subways will be handed out to button-clad stupid white men. Other saboteurs wearing fake RNC T-shirts will direct them to parts of town where Bush's policies have hit hardest. Rumor has it that prostitutes suffering from sexually transmitted diseases will discourage the use of condoms with Republican customers.

Anywhere between 250,000 and 1,000,000 anti-Bush demonstrators are expected to hit the streets of Manhattan, but the city and protest organizers can't agree on where to put them. Activists say they'll direct marchers to Central Park, their preferred site; city officials are threatening mass arrests if they do. Adding to the already combustible Chicago '68 vibe is a possible wildcat strike by city cops and firefighters. And now, as if everyone concerned wasn't already tweaky, FBI agents are traveling around the United States, to harass members of leftist groups planning to protest the New York RNC.

Strikebreaking policemen and private security personnel may be able to keep the protesters away from the convention hall. But Republicans who venture outside the Garden deserve the abuse ordinary New Yorkers will likely inflict upon them.

True, the administration eventually coughed up the $20 billion aid package Bush promised the city after 9/11. But that sum--equal to the cost of occupying Iraq for four months--barely made up for such disaster-related expenses as police overtime, debris removal and rebuilding damaged subway stations and tunnels. New York's economy hasn't even begun to recover. As the nation's official unemployment rate hovers at 6 percent, the city's runs around eight. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican, opposes virtually every Bush Administration decision concerning New York City.

Even viler than Bush's urban neglect is his failure to avenge the World Trade Center victims as he pledged to do on 9/14, dusty firefighter helpfully posing under his arm on The Pile. After 9/11, al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were in Pakistan. They and the Taliban received funding from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The 19 hijackers, organized by Egyptian Islamic Jihad, were Egyptian and Saudi. But Bush didn't attack Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Egypt. He went after Afghanistan and Iraq instead, nations that had nothing to do with 9/11 but offered business opportunities for GOP-connected oil concerns. Incredibly, he siphoned more money and arms to the Egyptians, Saudis and Pakistanis.

Not only did Bush let the terrorists get away, he raised their allowance.

If today's GOP retained a shred of the dignity and patriotism that it once possessed as the Party of Lincoln, it would have dumped Bush in favor of a candidate more interested in defending America than his wealthy contributors. Republicans are neofascists now, and that's why New Yorkers good and true will be yelling at them to go back home.

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