Who’s spreading propaganda about my city?

I’ve been reading tweets and Daily News letters to the editor about how bad, how filthy, how dangerous, how ugly my city has become.

Indeed, one Daily News comment, datelined from somewhere on the West Coast, yowled his NY loathing by saying he was SO GLAD he’d moved out of the foul city! Which he hated! Because of the filth, the dangers, the ugliness, the crime problem, the expense! (A few days after his letter, he got a response from another reader: “Good riddance.”)

Not just my city, either. Chicago is often mentioned, as well as other cities where George Floyd-Black Lives Matter protests and white supremacist counter demonstrations took place a year or so ago.

The other day, a letter writer thought he was a cleverboots by starting with the Charlottesville trial and monetary damages against the white supremacist Klans. “Quite right, too,” he said (or something like that). He then went on to ask when Black Lives Matter was going to pay damages for all the destruction they caused in Portland and Seattle and Kenosha. (Guy obviously knows nothing about lawsuits or facts but has memorized the names of certain cities. Bravo, guy!)

How do I know all this is propaganda? Because every letter repeats the same accusations using the same language citing the same cities. As if these letter writers copied and pasted “their” comments from…I dunno. Is some Trumpian force out there ordering them to fill their local newspapers with these “alternative facts?”

It’s propaganda. And like all propaganda, it’s composed of sweeping lies studded with real names of people or groups or cities to give a swish of “truth” over the lies.

Here are the facts about a day in New York City:

A few weeks ago I took myself south to visit my friend Andrea, in the Village, and to pick up coffee at Porto Rico, as well as chocolate at Lilac.

When I left my apartment to proceed downtown, I had not a thought in my head about the horrors I was venturing into. It’s a problem being an optimist: we live in pleasant reality, not interpretive dark futures.

So come with me into the 73rd Street entrance of the IRT and descend into the fearful underground world we call the subway, the dreaded MTA.

The first horror: even on the (renovated textured gray tiles) platform everyone is wearing a mask and nobody is complaining, or protesting, or demanding we take our masks off. Or put them on. Whichever.

The trains have been slightly delayed lately, I suspect because the subway lost employees during the pandemic, but still, within five minutes, an express arrives and I get on it. The train is quite full. We are not jammed against each other and there are a few seats left but a number of us are standing. I stand, because I’ve been sitting here at the computer all morning and standing in a moving subway is a kind of, I dunno, isometric exercise.

Second horror: I look around to see how many maskless narcissists are riding in my car. Only one woman, out of maybe one hundred people, and all the masks are worn properly, covering both nose and mouth.

Third horror: This subway car is…clean. Maybe not as sparkling as cars were at the beginning of the pandemic when the MTA was scrubbing all the cars with bleach every night, but back then, since there were few people riding the trains, I had a full view of the gleam.

Fourth horror: As always, I feel really good to be on a subway car full of a range of skin colors. It is my New York family right here, riding with me. The subway and the streets are community, non-partisan community. I’m never comfortable when I’m amid nothing but white skin.

Fifth horror: No one is carrying a weapon.

Downtown, I do my shopping. A lot of people are wearing masks even outdoors. I don’t but we all put on our masks inside stores. I don’t know if there’s a city-wide government mandate for this, but we’re a city full of well-informed individuals; we don’t need to be told to make sane choices for ourselves and our neighbors.

I visit Andrea and head home in the early evening. My subway experience going north is a replica of my horrifying subway experience heading south.

Recently, I saw a photo on Facebook of what was, or purported to be, the Chambers Street subway station. It was posted as a warning about how awful New York has become. The photo indeed made the station look like a location for a movie about New York in the 1970’s. Dark matter seemed to be dripping off the ceiling.

I used that station often, back when I worked downtown, and can inform you it never looked that bad. Never. Then I realized the picture must have been photo-shopped by a propaganda outfit with the purpose of making people who don’t know the city fearful of it. Scare those folks in Wichita, maybe. Or South Dakota. Places where everybody goes to the mall carrying a huge gun, or two.

When people are roused by liars to be afraid, they will hate. Fear always leads to hate. Fear and hate are the dual weapons of fascism.

We don’t do fascism in New York.

P.S. Horrors! All of our shelves are fully stocked.

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