Judging by the heated reaction New York Mayor Bill de Blasio should not be planning on being Man of the Year at an Irish event near you anytime soon.
His decision to snub the New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade and his “concession” that the FDNY and NYPD could wear their uniforms on the day is high-handed and provocative.
I think he understood, at least, that asking New York heroes not to participate in the parade in their ceremonial dress, as some leftie leaders demanded, was akin to throwing a match into a gas tank.
If you want to see an explosive moment in New York politics, Mr. Mayor, tell the thousands of firefighters and cops who are deeply proud of their Irish roots and heritage they cannot march in their uniforms on St. Patrick’s Day.
De Blasio came into office and almost on his first day swore he’d ban the carriage horses in Central Park. About half the drivers are Irish and the layoffs would affect hundreds of Irish family members.
They firmly believe that the mayor’s real estate friends who covet the horse stable space are behind the proposed ban.
De Blasio had the perfect out on the parade, one that his predecessor Michael Bloomberg took – march in the Irish gay parade a couple of weekends before March 17, and then on Fifth Avenue on the day itself.
Everyone saved face with this solution. Gender and ethnic politics were essentially free of rancor on this issue for quite some time.
Instead, on Tuesday de Blasio and a scuttling-after-him stumblebum bunch of fellow elected New York officials announced their moral superiority with their refusal to march.
This issue is not as simple as gays good/parade bad. The parade itself, apart from the almost comical at this point “England Get Out of Ireland” banners, does not allow political causes to be aired.
Politicians can march, sure, but they cannot advocate. That rarely gets explained. Parade organizers would turn down the Tea Party for the same reason. The parade organizers would be deepy anti-abortion but no such banners can be carried.
In addition, the initial gay impetus came after a group of hardcore activists took over the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) and targeted the parade.
What had been set up as a welfare and community organization to take care of young, undocumented Irish gays suddenly became a battering ram of protest against the Irish parade organizers and the Catholic Church.
I had a hand in the founding of the original group. It was established after we reported in our newspaper the Irish Voice on the number of suicidal young Irish undocumented.
We actually called the first public meeting. Over 100 attended.
The different agenda was pushed a couple of years later. The group became parade-oriented only and pretty nasty.
There was nastiness too from the other side. The church and parade officials were hopelessly confrontational and inept.
That is still the case. There was no one from the parade who could give a decent comment on their perspective.
Suffice to say, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was the only one to respond. It’s a sad day when Donohue, with his perfectly calibrated ranting sound bite, is the only voice to be heard.
What de Blasio has done, unnecessarily in my opinion, is cast the Irish as the villains and ensure that over St. Patrick’s Day the divisive issue will once again define this hard working community that deserves so much better.
So not so well done, Mr. Mayor. Strike Two in my book and you’re only in office a wet week.