August 28, 2016

The Update Desk: Grains of Salt (V13)

You may remember a discussion in these pages about Wendy Long, the New York City lawyer who's running as a Trump Republican to unseat Chuck Schumer in the US Senate.

She might have made a few friends in her recent visit to Syracuse's North Side, where she pretty obviously tried to make a connection between a Muslim group purchasing an abandoned Catholic Church and a neighborhood filling with "crime prostitution money laundering," however I'm not one of them, as I made clear in my post.

Long doubled down in an opinion column a few days later, in which she noted, among other things,
that her tweets were sent "in no particular order" as if to excuse the obvious connection she implied between the mosque and the degradation of the neighborhood, and the extremely offensive "Welcome to Syracuse" tweet, shown here, of which I'm sure she's very proud.

She continues her Trumpian focus on 'political correctness' and says that's preventing positive change on the North Side, where refugees, including Muslims, are being settled; then pivots, as if she had seen the proverbial 'shiny thing' that often distracts me, an adult Attention Deficit Disorder sufferer, to job losses.
Companies that provided good jobs moved away, like General Electric to Massachusetts and Carrier to Mexico.  What can we do to help the community now? What is best for all human beings, whose God-given rights to life, liberty and property American was founded to protect?
Um, a couple of things.

Carrier Corporation's exodus from Syracuse started back in 1979, when United Technologies Corporation purchased the company and moved the corporate headquarters to Connecticut. Later, when Carrier closed two plants and laid off 1200 employees who worked on container refrigeration units and compressor parts, effectively ending their manufacturing presence here, the jobs didn't head to Mexico --  they went to Georgia and Asia, as noted in this New York Times article:
More than 80 percent of the container manufactures who buy Carrier's refrigeration units are in Asia, (Carrier spokesman Johnathan) Shaw said in a telephone interview. "It doesn't make any sense to ship a product 6,000 miles when you have a plant in the same hemisphere," he said. So Carrier plans to make the refrigeration units at a plant in Singapore. 
As for the compressor parts, sales have fallen by half over the last five years as technology has changed, so it made sense to consolidate manufacturing at plants in China and Stone Mountain, GA.  
It's true that Carrier is moving jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico, but that's happening this year, long past the time that those great Carrier jobs in Syracuse were impacted. It's also true that, in 2018, General Electric is moving  its headquarters to Boston, but that too has little to do with us. When GE pulled manufacturing out of Syracuse (impacting jobs that mattered), it was to go to Virginia and Asia, in keeping with the exodus from most of the Rust Belt states, and it happened many years ago.

I can give Long credit for at least knowing that Carrier and GE used to be big here, but tying unrelated moves in other states to what's happening on the North Side? Not so much. The changes that pulled good manufacturing jobs out of our area all happened 15, 20, even more than 30 years ago. We can lament the changes all we want, but they don't really have any correlation with what's happening in the neighborhood that includes the mosque in the 500 block of Park Street, or with refugees who have been settled here in the past five or six years.

On her other point, about those "God-given rights to life, liberty and property"(property being the new word for "the pursuit of happiness"?) for "all human beings,"one of her policy positions is to
Stop illegal immigration and reexamine whether we can even sustain one million legal immigrants per year.
Again, not seeing the relevance to the legal immigration that is behind the refugees coming into Syracuse, particularly the immigrant Muslims on the North Side who exercised their right to life, liberty and property by purchasing the empty Catholic church and against whom there have never been accusations of illegality.

Long is not unreasonable to suggest that there is much work to do in Syracuse and other places across New York to help get people out of poverty, or that 'crony capitalism' is an issue on every level. She's well within her rights to complain about Schumer, who's been in office since 1998; and she's entitled to her opinions of how to make the situation better. I'm fine with her blaming Democrats for the problems of inner cities; even though everyone knows there's no exclusive right of ownership to that problem, she can have her opinion and express it freely.

Where she's still lacking, in my opinion, is trying to make illegal immigration the flash point when she's talking about Syracuse generally, and Muslims in particular. Her initial comments were designed to be inflammatory, and they were. Her follow up explanation fell short.

Maybe before her next trip here, she might spend some time looking into the Syracuse University Program for Refugee Assistance (SUPRA) or Interfaith Works, a local organization that works to improve communication and relationships across races and faiths, and she might actually talk to the folks at the North Side Learning Center, located on the campus of the Mosque of Mary, Mother of Jesus, to get their opinion on the neighborhood where they've staked a claim.

You know, the place where there are "Crosses down, crescents up" in Syracuse.