Tuesday, October 04, 2011


"I love this town!!!"
-any of 12389124 movies set in New York

I was listening to the radio feed of the Yankees game last night and something struck me about the ads and the announcers. They were real "homers," that is, they were so strongly biased toward their team they would say silly stuff, try to spin bad things into good, and tried to downplay the opposing team (the Tigers, who won by the way). That's not unusual, most local announcers are like that and it can be kind of fun.

What made me start thinking was how strongly New Yorkers feel about their home city. They love the place. They love it so much they tend to think little of everywhere else, when they think about it. And they constantly build it up, even their jokes about the bad parts are really about how its still a great place. The ads were all about how wonderful New York was. Every TV show set in New York City is filled with glowing love toward their city. Movies set in New York, even ones that show bad parts, ultimately are about what a great place they live in.

In other words, they show real patriotism and love toward their home, constantly reinforced by the culture and media. They remind themselves daily about how great their home is. And they have reason to think so: New York City is an amazing place, and their belief in its exceptionalism is not without foundation. You can get pretty much anything you want within walking distance. The place has history, culture, even natural beauty in Central Park. Many great achievements have been accomplished in New York City.

Yet... these same people tend to be pretty left leaning, New York City is one of the most leftist places in America. Conservatives are few and quiet. When the Tea Party Movement has a rally there, they draw a few hundred people out of several million residents.

And all that means they're the kind of people who think patriotism toward the United States is tacky, that America isn't exceptional, that loving and promoting the nation is insulting to other cultures, and that we should focus on the bad America does at least as much, if not more.

In other words, the very thing they do regularly with such enthusiasm for their own city, they think is awful to do with the United States. The patriotism, love, positive reinforcement regarding, presumption of greatness, and exceptionalism they perceive in their home city, they reject and even attack when directed at their home country. What they take for granted and do for New York City they think is gauche flag waving by hicks when it comes to the USA.

And I think that's kind of revealing. They're acting as if they are citizens of an isolated pocket in the US, as New Yorkers, while the USA is just some place they happen to be near. Like their true love is their city and they not only are uncaring about the rest of the country, but consider it beneath them.

Yet the concept of positive reinforcement and love of your home is not repellant to these people. The idea of patriotism - despite their attacks on it when in the context of country is not such a terrible thing. Their multiculturalism and politically correct diversity comes to an end when their city is concerned. Which means their statements about why patriotism is wrong and how flag waving is insulting and improper are not honest. They don't have any problem with that when it comes to New York City.

They just don't care for the USA so much.

*UPDATE: Another thought: the constant push to promote New York City and love it among New Yorkers is deliberate. They do so not only because they like where they live and are justly proud of it, but because they know that this helps reduce the damage criticism and fault causes, helps their economy, and benefits all New Yorkers. In other words, they do it intentionally because they understand that doing so helps their people and their city.

Yet when someone does so with the USA, too often they consider that manipulative, suspicious, and problematic. Its crass, mindless flag-waving, its something only stupid hicks do out in flyover country. They understand the benefits and reasons for patriotism, at some level, they just reject it.


Jonathan Cook said...

Thanks for that insight. While I've noticed the fierce love of NYC (often chauvinism) by its inhabitants, I never connected it to the noticably anti-patriotic tendency. I suspect most of the "arts" community exhibits this most strongly.

Anonymous said...

When the Civil War started there were draft riots in New York City and even talk about its seceding from the nation. President Lincoln joked about the front porch setting up in business for itself.