New York’s Tenement Museum Succumbs to Political Correctness

Located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the Tenement Museum was established in 1988 in what was once one of the many crowded buildings that housed thousands of Jewish, German, and Irish immigrant families in the early 20th century. Peter Van Buren, who began working there as a docent in 2016, recalls what he liked about the position:

Inside a restored 19th-century tenement apartment house, [the museum] told the story of some of the actual all-immigrant families who had lived there, from inside their actual apartments. Of the over-7,000 people who inhabited that building over its lifespan, researchers established who had lived in which rooms, detailed their lives, forensically reconstructed the surroundings, and shared it with guests. Some rooms had twenty layers of wallpaper applied by the different generations who had lived there.

Rule one for educators like me was “keep it in the room,” meaning focus on specific individuals and how they lived in the room where you were standing. Over the years, these included Irish, Jewish, German, and Italian immigrants. There had been no Bangladeshis, Spaniards, or blacks; their stories lay elsewhere, “outside the room.” It is the same reason there is no monument to those who died on D-Day at Gettysburg. That didn’t happen there. That story is told somewhere else.

But after the presidential election, the museum reconceived its mission as one of “fighting fascism and destroying the patriarchy.” And everything changed:

I witnessed an Asian museum educator say out loud without any concern from management, “No more Jews, I want to tell my story!” Her parents were university professors from Asia and she was born in a tony New York City suburb, so I’m not quite sure what her story was. But no matter. Narratives were rewritten—so, for example, the Irish immigrants went from suffering anti-Catholic discrimination in Protestant New York to being murderers of innocent blacks during the 1863 Draft Riots. Never mind that the Irish family spotlighted by the museum lived there in 1869 and had no connection to the riots.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Immigration, Lower East Side, Museums, Political correctness

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship