June 20, 2003


"ALL NEW YORKERS" DEPT.: There's a spectactularly wrongheaded column in Thursday's Washington Post by Anne Applebaum, in which the author laments that Manhattan has become a "monoculture" in which everyone "agrees on just about everything." Applebaum, apparently, is sick of traveling to New York and attending dinner parties in which members of the "creative class" where political dissent is more or less nonexistent.
I don't know which New York she's been visiting, but it's not the one I've spent the last three years in. The New York I know is one where people fight, argue, and debate virtually constantly- and I like it that way. It's the one where at my last party, two of my guests experienced a moment of confusion, when one mentioned his affinity for Dan Savage, and the other assumed "Savage" referred to Michael.
It would be so much easier to rebut conservative attacks on the "liberal elite media" if they didn't come up with garbage like this so often. Appelbaum makes the common mistake among journalists in writing "New York" and "Manhattan" when she really means "Upper West Side of Manhattan." Yes, it's true that the majority of UWS types tend to think alike, especially when it comes to politics.
But what about the rest of New York? How can a city in which "it isn't polite to say anything positive about any Republican, even a moderate Republican" manage to elect Republican mayors three elections in a row? In a state in which a Republican was just elected to a third straight term as governor? Applebaum mentions Rudy Giuliani in the first paragraph of the piece, yet why doesn't she explain that the very Republican Rudy is as great a hero (if not more so) in New York's liberal monoculture as he is in the rest of the country?
I'm even starting to have second thoughts about the Upper West Side and its political single-mindedness: around the start of the Iraq war, I was invited to a dinner party, and a few days before suggested to my host that we not discuss the war, since I figured I'd be the only one in favor and I didn't want to be in the middle of a huge shouting match. No problem, my friend said- he figured he'd be the only one against.
What Applebaum really means, of course, is that there's a monoculture among the "important" New Yorkers, the "elite" ones- but that's not what she says, she says "Manhattan," period. Maybe everyone she knows in Manhattan "agrees on just about everything," but that's certainly not true of everyone. To suggest otherwise is condescending, on top of just plain inaccurate.

Posted by Stephen Silver at June 20, 2003 12:03 PM
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