Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Ssssh! Sailors on 42nd Street

New York City is sometimes the Big Apple, and sometimes it's the Capital of the World.  In some parts of Manhattan, when in a certain frame of mind, one can conjure up Fritz Lang's Metropolis. As that old song goes:  "The great big city's a wondrous toy / Just made for a girl and boy..."

The song is called "Manhattan," and it is a duet between two young lovers, too poor to afford the traditional Summer vacation escape from the Big City.  But they make the best of things:  "We'll settle down / Right here in town..."

We'll have Manhattan,
The Bronx and Staten
Island too.
It's lovely going through
The zoo
It's very fancy
On old Delancey
Street, you know...

And chances are the young pair might see sailors such as those chaps above. Because long before it was the Apple, and before it claimed the title of Center of the World, New York was a nautical town and if you didn't see a string of onions in Paris or fog in London, you would see sailors in NYC.  Amusingly for the time in which the song was written (1925), the song alludes to gay New York: "We'll go to Greenwich / Where modern men itch / To be free," Greenwich Village being the part of the city (indeed, of the world) with the longest history of being a place of openness and tolerance of those of a different sexual orientation. Rhyming Greenwich with itch is only one of the songs funny rhymes. 

This has been a long introduction that at last brings together sailors and gays. Long indeed, but at least after mentioning many other things, I got them together in the one sentence.

Which is more than the Office of the President  of the United States could do, or at least whomever it is sent out the email yesterday announcing that the pernicious policy of throwing gay men and women out of the U.S. Military if their orientation is revealed, will be overturned.

I got an email from Organizing for America/ which incredibly talked the whole "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue up and down, back and forth, lauded the Pentagon for releasing a study yesterday that "found that 70 percent of troops do not believe the change would have a negative impact on morale, and troop readiness would not be affected,"condemned those stubborn old Republican Senators like well-known Prisoner-of-War-Heroism John McCain who want "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to stay, and yet that email did not use the words homosexual or gay once. Not once. Nor the term "sexual orientation."

Are they scared to? Ironically, of course, the 1993 law which enshrined the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy had to go to painstaking lengths to define what it was all about — sample quotation: "The term 'homosexual' means a person, regardless of sex, who engages in, attempts to engage in, has a propensity to engage in, or intends to engage in homosexual acts, and includes the terms 'gay' and 'lesbian'." 

Have a good look at the shorter version of the email I got, here. That is the cowering, terrified, barely-beating heart of Liberalism, championing your cause very quietly.