The New World
I love the way the “patriotic” GOP folks (who claim that we all on the left are a bunch of Constitution hating socialists) use xenophobia as one of their propaganda tools. As I peruse some political blogs on WordPress which for some reason have “Democrat” as one of the tags, I am dismayed to read all the hatred for immigrants that there is out there. With that in mind, I had an outing this weekend that reminded my why I am lucky to be a New Yorker.
On Saturday, I spent the afternoon with a dear old friend “C” who is also from the town where I grew up on Long Island. She currently lives in London and we spent some time talking about the election and political news that has been happening in the United States.
Part of what roots our friendship is that we are both first generation or new Americans. In her case, she actually immigrated to the US from Hong Kong around 1980 as a small child; she grew up in New York and is a U.S. Citizen. In my case, my parents immigrated here from Italy in the late 1960s. We were both instilled with the work ethic that drives the creativity and entrepreneurship in this country which some on the right claim is being lost because of immigrants and other “takers”. We had nothing passed down to us materialistically, and we’ve worked for everything we have achieved, earning it with many hours of dedication, perseverance, curiosity and hard work.
In part I think the xenophobes blame immigrants for some of our nations ills because they have drifted too far from their own immigrant roots. Let us not forget that we are all immigrants here. The only true natives have red skin and live on “reservations”, their treatment is another sad part of our history. But those who dehumanize the immigrant peoples that live in the US forget that they themselves are the product of immigrants. Most likely their ancestors started here living in city slums, hill dugouts or some other modest beginning. Most likely their ancestors benefited from some form of government assistance at that stage (homestead act?). Their ancestors, too, were likely treated as sub-human the way they now treat foreign neighbors shamefully.
The United States rose to greatness because we embraced immigrants who brought new ideas and a drive for success and a better life. The mixing of different thoughts and philosophies from around the globe is how we sparked our creative genius. I feel lucky to live in a place where multiculturalism has always thrived and been celebrated. I wish that the xenophobes could come here and see how millions of foreigners live here together in relative harmony.
C and I celebrated our holiday season meeting at the elegant Cafe Sabarsky on Fifth Avenue. This is a beautiful “Old World” style restaurant in the Neue Galerie for German and Austrian Art, across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We went at lunchtime and there was a long line because they don’t take reservations. C thinks they like it this way, but I don’t know, the place definitely isn’t going for a “trendy” crowd. Once inside, we saw the beautiful Viennese style cakes and pastries on display (photo above). We were allowed to leisurely eat our lunch and chat unmolested (despite the long queue to get in). I ate a delicious frisee salad with bacon and soft boiled egg. My friend had a wurst of some sort. And for dessert, I had a wonderful hazelnut mousse chocolate cake. We followed up lunch with a look at the Bernini and Matisse exhibits at the Metropolitan. All and all, a very European afternoon.
As a quick post script note, the cakes and pastries at Cafe Sabarsky reminded me of my old college days at Barnard and spending many hours studying at the famous Hungarian Pastry Shop which is still an icon of the Columbia Morningside Heights neighborhood. Yum!