in Politics

Coney Island integration

I live ten blocks from Madison Square Garden, site of the RNC. Starting a few days ago roads were blocked off, police are on every street corner, and helicopters hover overhead; it feels like martial rule. So on Sunday we escaped to Coney Island.

wall-to-wall people on the beach

The beach wasn’t quite as crowded as in this 1940 photograph, but it wasn’t too far off. What struck me is the high level of integration: Russians and eastern europeans mix naturally with Latinos. They may not interact much, but they live together peacefully. This isn’t unusual in New York, but it’s a striking reminder when the multitude of nationalities in Manhattan is contrasted with just two, quite different, cultures sharing the same neighborhood.

I thought of this listening to news of yet more explosions in Israel, and the International Court of Justice ruling against the legality of the “separation wall.” How could such a giant lesson as the Berlin Wall be so boldly ignored? The myth that “good fences make good neighbors” makes for pithy politics but peaceful societies.

two children playing on the grass next to a giant wall