Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Right Wing Fifth Column In Brighton Beach? West Hollywood? Bustleton?


Growing up in Brooklyn I had never met a Republican. And they didn't run for office where I lived either. Republicans were sleaze-ball used car salesmen like Nixon. They were in other parts of the country, not anywhere near Kings Highway. When Senator John Kennedy needed to demonstrate the enthusiasm hard core liberal communities had for him-- he was a kind of conservative senator for a Democrat-- he showed up during the 1960 campaign at Dubrow's on Kings Highway, a couple blocks from my house on 17th Street and Avenue P. My mother took me to see him. The crowd was adulatory. (Just 12 years old, I got stepped on by a police horse and got carried into Dubrows, a casualty of war, to be fussed over by the future president. There were no cell phones then, let alone cell phones that could have captured the moment for a then non-existent Facebook page.) I don't know how my old neighborhood voted in November but it wouldn't be out-of-bounds to speculate that Kennedy beat Nixon in the realm of 80-20%, maybe better. Kennedy only won New York state by 5 points. But he won NYC 62.62% to 37.04%. Brooklyn was his second biggest county in the state (after the Bronx)-- 66.16% to 33.51%. And my part of Brooklyn-- Homecrest, Madison, Midwood, Ocean Parkway South, West Brighton, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach-- was way more Democratic, way more liberal, than the rest of the borough.

Jesus, has that changed! I did a post about it a few weeks ago. Russians started moving into Brighton Beach while I was still, more or less, living in New York, just a trickle at first, but they eventually took over the area and spread out from there. Bye-bye, heart of liberal Brooklyn. My old stomping ground all went for Trump. Brooklyn was the heart of Clinton-territory. The borough gave her a solid 595,086 (79.25%) win over Trump's sad 133,653 (17.8%). Not so my ancestral-- now Russian-dominated-- part of Brooklyn:
Ocean Parkway South- Trump- 71.15%
West Brighton- Trump- 68.77%
Homecrest- Trump- 66.56%
Midwood- Trump- 60.62%
Brighton Beach- Trump- 59.35%
Madison- Trump- 56.35%
Sheepshead Bay- Trump- 50.53%
Makes me want to barf. And, by the way, although he had come to America (the Bronx) 5 decades earlier, my grandfather was a Russian too-- a Russian socialist, like many of the Russian immigrants who came to America at the turn of the century (the 20th century, not this one). These weren't conservatives; they were the ones who powered the labor movement in New York. The biggest concentrations of Russians in America today still live in Brooklyn, but have spread out to Bergen County, New Jersey, as well as to West Hollwood, Miami, Chicago, Alaska, Dallas, Houston, Philly, Baltimore and the Silicon Valley area.

Olga Khazan, writing for The Atlantic in April of 2016, long before Trump was president, penned an article about how specifically the Russian Jewish community is, Why Soviet Refugees Aren't Buying Sanders' Socialism. My grandfather's experience in Czarist Russia-- a fascist dictatorship-- colored his American politics. Khazan write soft Russians who's bitter experience of the Soviet Union-- which they foolishly imagine is what Bernie or the Democrats are advocating-- colors their American politics. They hate big government-- just wait til they figure out what Señor Trumpanzee has in mind-- and loath the idea of a workers revolution. Surprising that Jews are too incapable of critical thought as it be unable to differentiate between authoritarianism and socialism. But... that's their sad life's experience. Recent Russian Jewish immigrants voted overwhelming for Trump. In the primaries, the ones who didn't like Trump were hung ho on Cruz. They don't grok the Trump-Putin connection.

I found a degree of comfort of sorts-- from the changing voted patterns of my old neighborhood-- Monday when I read a piece in Politico by Malcolm Burnley, Why Philly's Russians Are Crazy For Trump. Turns out, like Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, they've got their own "Little Odessa" (Bustleton and Somerto) too.
Not since the end of the Cold War has there been quite such a miasma of suspicion and intrigue about Russia and Russians. The news brims with murky allegations of computer hacking, election meddling and influence peddling, all of which seems to demand assertions of allegiance to one side or the other. But for many of the estimated 26,000 Russian-speaking people in Philadelphia (not to mention the more than 900,000 across the country) the us-and-them nature of the political debate in Washington doesn’t really apply. Here, in a self-created cocoon of familiar cultural touchstones, I detected a kind of dual nationalism among the residents-- a manifest love for countries that once were home and an equal adoration for the populist president many of them voted for.

“Trump is a fighter, a negotiator, a successful businessman. Four times he go through the bankruptcy. He understand how the world works from a business perspective,” says Alexander Shapiro, who came to the states in the early-1990s from what’s now Ukraine. “During the campaign, he ran against governors and senators. He beat everybody like babies.”

Hearing how jazzed residents sounded about Trump’s first 60 days in office, I half expected to find shelves laden with Russian nesting dolls featuring Barron, Ivanka, Don Jr. and the whole gang. There was nothing so brazen inside the Knizhnik gift store, a mom-and-pop-looking place where I was repeatedly reminded that the inventory was “all Russian-- all.” There was, however, a Russian biography of Trump prominently displayed. It was the same book that became a popular giveaway at Trump-friendly election watch parties in Moscow, the one whose title has been dubbed in English as “The Black Swan.”

It’s an apt metaphor for how Bustleton and Somerton fit into Philadelphia writ large. Meaning, hardly at all. In a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans seven to one, and the local GOP has become something of a joke, these neighborhoods are as close to a conservative bastion as you’ll find. It’s been that way for decades. The Far Northeast, as it’s known in local parlance, which borders on the swing-state suburbs of Bucks County, has a long history of opposition to progressivism, on everything from taxation to school desegregation. In 1983, a Pennsylvania state senator representing the area introduced a bill to have Northeast Philadelphia secede from the city. In part, this was perceived to be retribution against the city’s first African-American mayor, a dynamic that evokes the subtext to Trump’s Make America Great American movement. “Whether they are Russian newcomers or older generations, there is a nationalist theme running throughout the political mindset of Northeast Philadelphians, especially those who lean more conservative,” says Matt Smalarz, a professor at Manor College in the Philadelphia suburbs and a native of the Northeast whose dissertation focused on the area he grew up in. “You won’t go to any other part of Philadelphia where there are more American flags being flown.”

...In his campaign speeches, Trump leveraged a profound feeling of abandonment being experienced by white working-class voters, as if the government had cast them aside. You don’t have be an unemployed steelworker from western Pennsylvania to share that commonality. In fact... the population hailing from ex-Soviet states might be predisposed to an up-by-the-bootstraps message like that of the Trump campaign, and a drain-the-swamp message, too. “In my family, we paid for everything with our hard work and great attitude toward this country,” she says. “Eastern Europeans are not so much depend on public benefits. We’re not waiting for dollars to fall from the trees.”

After all, many of these immigrants ended up here, during the 1990s, seeking freedom from ethnic or religious persecution in their respective states. “Most of the Russians here are almost libertarians,” says Andre Krug, president and CEO of KleinLife, a senior-citizen program that caters to many Russian-speaking adults. “They came from a country where the country dictated how they were going to live their lives, so when they came to this country, they feel like the less government does, the better they’re going to be ultimately.” Their ideology-- to draw a generality-- is more like an attitude of rugged individualism, Krug says. In other words, one that is innately American but born of life in the former Soviet Union. In the end, Trump’s wealthy upbringing and his career of questionable business deals didn’t undermine the essential appeal of his well-practiced message of personal triumph. Last November, Donald Trump narrowly lost Philadelphia’s 58th ward, which encompasses Bustleton and Somerton, but garnered 1,464 more votes than Romney in 2012. Pennsylvania was decided by less than 45,000 votes.

...Despite a palpable dislike for Putin among most of the foreign-born Philadelphians I spoke to, there was concurrent praise of Trump for displaying what might be called Putin-like qualities: His unflinching projection of strength. And his intuition-- what Shapiro calls “guts.” And most of all, Trump’s promise of bygone economic enrichment for all Americans. The MAGA message can be a personal one for immigrants like Shapiro, who arrived during America’s relative prosperity during the 1990s. This pink-cloud period in our recent history happened to be his first taste of the West. “From 1996 until when the [World Trade Towers] collapsed, it was communism,” Shapiro says, meaning, everybody was reaping the spoils. “It was a very good time. Everybody happy. People buy houses. Real estate booming. Stock market booming. That’s why Trump won. He wants to make America great again. He wants to return to old times when people were happy.”
Have you ever tasted a maroon, not to be confused with a coconut macaroon?

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At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just proves that the Russian diaspora is just as stupid as southern crackers and are just a little dumber than the 65 million hapless rubes that voted for $hillbillary.

At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe even as dumb as the schmuck who infests every comment thread on this blog with his "$hillbillary" hatred for the Clintons.

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liberals have been in bed with the Russia since FDR (see Henry Wallace, VP under FDR). It's only now that they seem disenfranchised that they use Russia as a scapegoat. You forget how cozy the Obama/Clinton administration was with the Putin regime (Russia Reset?). It is known that the Clinton campaign had a lot of foreign influences through the Clinton Foundation, but if Clinton won, this discussion would not be happening. Both parties need to put America first.

See the opinion by Ralph Peters in today's NY Post.

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clinton was in bed with the lush Yeltsin. And Yeltsin invited Clinton to send in the Chicago boys, which he gleefully did, and nearly obliterated the entire Russian economy (while enriching the lush greatly).

It was that "shock doctrine" destruction of their markets that made Putin inevitable as the anti-Yeltsin... and it taught the master his best lesson. If you want to become the world's first trillionaire, you can't do it by starving the people and the army lest they get too hungry and your head ends up on a pike in front of the Kremlin. But we taught them how to skim and launder and turn themselves into multi-multi billionaires... so that's what they've done.

Obamanation had a tense relationship with Putin. $hillbillary's was even more tense. Both had a lot to do with the coup in Ukraine and with NATO expansion squeezing Russia... AND with the oil price manipulation that cut deeply into their revenues.

And 6:03: $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary $hillbillary


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