BY REVEREND BILLY | There was a time when New York called out to the world, “The Future is here! Here we go!” But now the profit-taking carbon of Jamie Dimon tells our children, “I am using your future as my ATM.”
There was a New York that could shout, “I am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable! I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world!” But our gathering in the New York parks is limited to 22 individuals and our bullhorns must be turned over as the police surround our protest.
There was a city represented by a 22-story-high “…mighty woman with a torch…whose beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome.” “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” “Send these, the homeless…to me.”
Donald Trump has urged a rewrite of Emma Lazarus’s poem. It is an obstacle to his wealthy market, which is fear. Fear of the future, which is the killing of our city.
Now we have a wave of migrants walking among us and to their surprise they are not being welcomed in New York. They look back and Lady Liberty is still there.
But our newest New Yorkers are forced into the freezing air. Many of them have not experienced a winter before, even of our Chase/Citi/BlackRock-climate-change-adjusted warmer variety.
Is it 9/11 that made us officially afraid? This wave of new neighbors is far less in number than the Irish and the Jews and the Italians of past immigration waves. And we are far richer as a city today, better able to accommodate our guests. In fact, what is the square footage of empty space available since the virus?
It does seem daunting, to recover our courage and introduce the future to the world again, let alone to ourselves. These new New Yorkers who are treated like criminals are our new leaders, just as the huddled, unwashed crowds staring up at the Lady from the decks of long-ago ships.
Hundreds of Villagers have spent time with the asylum seekers from Sudan and Venezuela and Haiti and Senegal — we are finding these people powerful and gracious. They have come thousands of miles and god knows the tragedies they have endured — they hesitate to describe what has happened.
Their clear strength is our gift. It’s time for New York to return to form by protecting these special world citizens, as all of us yearn to breathe free.
Reverend Billy (a.k.a. Bill Talen) and the Stop Shopping Choir hold forth Sundays at 5 p.m. at the Earthchxrch in Loisaida, 36 Avenue C. Performances are designed and directed by Savitri D. For more information, visit revbilly.com.