The Corner

Honeymooners

A good deal of mail has come in, concerning New York. (The third part of my series “The Fate of New York” appears today, here.) There have been many testimonials: “Let me tell you what I experienced in the bad old days. Let me tell you how I’ve been living lately.” And then there is this brief, rather poignant statement about the future:

There are times when you know exactly what is going to transpire and unfortunately cannot change the outcome. I keep telling anyone who will listen to enjoy New York while you can. I lived in New York before Giuliani and Bloomberg. I know what it was like, and I know what it took to do something about it, and I know how it can all go bad again. Really a shame that people cannot learn from history.

I sometimes joke — it is only half a joke — that the problem with the world is that people keep being born. We are born, of course, knowing nothing. And it’s up to older others to pass along what they know. For various reasons, this process often fails. The lessons of history don’t take.

As I pointed out earlier this week, you can be a native New Yorker 25 years old, and have no idea how it was before Rudy and Bloomy. You may consider harmony normal. And, as Myron Magnet has pointed out, New York has always been “a city of newcomers.”

The man who will probably be our next mayor, Bill de Blasio, is almost a perfect leftist. He and his wife even honeymooned in the Castros’ Cuba. This reminded me of Pierre Trudeau, of whom it has been said, “It tells you everything that he honeymooned in the Soviet Union.”

Actually, he and Margaret took their trip a couple of months after the wedding. But the trip had its romantic aspect, as well as an official one. Plus, Trudeau adored the Soviet Union. He praised and envied its accomplishments. He bitterly regretted its collapse. And he admired Communist dictatorship in general. He asked Fidel Castro to be a pallbearer at his funeral. And he was. Thus do democratic leaders perfume and legitimate dictators.

Here is an uncomfortable question, liable to be damned as McCarthyite by those who don’t want to address it: If the likes of Trudeau and de Blasio were born under Communist dictatorship, what would they do in their adult lives? Would they be in opposition, even in jail? Would they be in government? Or would they be somewhere in between?

I can’t say with confidence that de Blasio wouldn’t be in the government, or that Trudeau wouldn’t have been.

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