Trump’s People’s Park

Where would our former New Yorker, or any of his loved ones, take a turn, looking for a bit of freedom of — no, oops — peace of mind? Lafayette Park? Church? A temple, or how about a mosque, a revival tent where they do indeed speak in tongues (not some Hollywood version of it, I mean the real Weedpatch kinda thing)? It certainly wouldn’t be my mom’s alma m. on that awful Left Coast. Nor even inland, where extended “folks” got Ronald Reagan to take a turn and visit, less than 100 miles from Los Angeles, and 30 minutes off the 99.

It would be the whitest park of all, in NYC. Now I could go gather data. Instead, I went straight to the source: CPPD (one Central Park PD), not to be confused with all the other PDs, even in NYC.

Let me digress one more minute — did you know there are fewer McDonald’s in the United States of America than there are PDs? I know at least where the two McD’s are within 3 miles of my apartment, but not where 2 or 4 of my PDs are. (13,800 McDonald’s and 18,000 police departments.). This is of course why it’s easier to reform McDonald’s than law and order, let alone the police.

Here’s what I was: hot and bothered, bothered enough to go ask not one person in one building in the park but three, to go find one of the Central Park’s PDs (and of course get thrown out for asking for badges and IDs and names. I did get two of three). And here’s what the gentlemen officers told me (after the white one called me a racist, since I referred to the people outside that I counted as whizzing by with the fewest masks on, or should I say covering their noses while perspirating).

Clearly, this poor officer has not heard of whiteness, white supremacy, or even Zadie Smith’s white labels in one of her novels. More importantly, all three men tried to tell me that Central Park has no rule about masks, only social distancing. So we can run/walk/jog/cycle in a space that holds very few people following social distancing. Sweat is flying, mouths open, moisture of all kinds, and yet Mayor de Blasio has the gall to ask us not to wear masks and social distance in outdoor funerals and demonstrations? Is this because Central Park is not only white, it’s Trump’s Peoples’ Park?

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About Ruth O'Brien

Professor Ruth O'Brien, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY) & Honorary Unaffiliated Academic Book Series Editor for The Public Square, Princeton University Press & Heretical Thought, Oxford University Press, USA Last book: Out of Many, One: Obama & the Third American Political Tradition (U of Chicago 2013). Nickname: Professorette by Rush Limbaugh (see