One of the great mysteries of 2017, at least for me, is how one annual parade in New York City turned into a running series of articles here. In any more “normal” era of American politics (if the word “normal” retains any meaning these days) the Puerto Rican Day Parade should have been a complete non-story except in the local paper’s entertainment or lifestyle sections. But the presence of convicted FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera and the scrambling reactions of so many politicians, participants and donors turned it into so much more.
The parade kicked off as scheduled yesterday, with beautiful weather for everyone to enjoy the spectacle. We had previously been assured that Rivera would not be honored with the National Freedom Hero award and would simply be marching as yet another “humble Puerto Rican grandfather.” But surprise, surprise, surprise. What have we here? (Click for full size image)
Say… isn’t that Rivera riding at the front of an elaborate float, raising his clenched fist to everyone along the parade route? And guess who showed up to join him? Why, it’s none other than City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. We can’t say she didn’t warn us, particularly since only a few days earlier she had insisted that Rivera would still be honored. He may not have a medal around his neck, but rather than marching like a humble grandfather along with everyone else, I’d say that riding in his own float with one of the most powerful elected municipal leaders in the city certainly qualifies as “honoring” someone, wouldn’t you?
That put Big Apple Mayor Bill de Blasio in a tough spot since he had only recently finished his Olympic gymnast level performance, flip flopping his position on the terrorist to say that he would always have refused to march if he was being so honored. Seeing that, I assume that Hizzoner turned around and went back to Gracie Mansion in keeping with his deeply held principles. Er… you did back out of the parade, didn’t you Mister Mayor?
As the New York Post reports, it was nothing of the kind. (Again, click for full size image.)
Mark-Viverito cut the ribbon at the beginning of the parade without him or Mayor de Blasio, but she caught up to Lopez Rivera as his float reached Central Park.
De Blasio, who previously said he would not march if Lopez Rivera was honored, nonetheless marched but kept a roughly 10-block buffer between himself and the divisive Lopez Rivera.
So the terrorist had his own float in the parade and was joined by the City Council Speaker. Rather than avoiding the debacle as he’d said, Mayor de Blasio marched anyway, perhaps thinking that a ten block “buffer zone” would be enough to prevent any pictures with Rivera and himself in the same frame showing up. And in the end, all the posturing and public statements, protests and angst were for nothing. The parade organizers wanted to honor the terrorist and they did. And the Mayor, never willing to miss out on an event featuring an important voting demographic went along with it anyway.
Ah, New York politics. It’s the stuff of legends, I tell ya.