20, No. 8
April 19 - May 2, 2007
German View of the Bronx
Thanks to YouTube, the Bronx and the world were made aware this weekend
of a German military training exercise where soldiers were told to
imagine African-Americans in the Bronx exiting a van before firing off
their machine guns.
But anyone who has a Google News Alert set for Bronx will learn
relatively quickly that our borough is frequently used for target
practice by clueless people trying to make a point in violent contexts.
In fact, the Norwood News ran an editorial about exactly this last July.
Here are a couple of excerpts:
Michael Hart, the Liberal Party candidate for state parliament in
Burleigh, Australia, “has rejected suggestions that Burleigh is becoming
the ‘Bronx’ of the city,” according to a local paper there.
“We are certainly having some trouble with out-of-control youth
gatherings, but I don’t think we have reached that stage yet,” he told
A year ago, a Swiss paper ran an article about training sessions for
people concerned about rising crime in Swiss cities. The headline was,
“Safety lessons in a virtual Bronx.”
By the way, we posted an entry about this on our blog —
westbronxnews.blogspot.com — and it has sparked an interesting exchange.
Said one reader: “The image of the Bronx in non-US countries is indeed
one of decay, lawlessness, violence, and…gangs. And you know why?
Because it was portrayed exactly like this by American pop culture for
decades. And since ordinary Europeans derive alot of their ‘knowledge’
about America from American TV series, movies, etc., which are flooding
European households, this picture is ingrained into the population. So,
if you want to assign blame, start at home and chide Hollywood for the
horrible PR job it is giving the Bronx.”
And in response: “I’m from Germany living in New Jersey for a couple of
years and even though I spend almost every weekend in New York City, I
never went to the Bronx. I don’t know this area and I’m too afraid
ending up in a dangerous situation. That might sound funny to some
people, but as Tobias [prior writer] said, that’s the image the media
made out of it.”
Feel free to add to the conversation. Just go to this particular blog
entry (it was posted on April 15) and click on the comment button at the
What Political Clubs Mean
Next year, if there’s any particular political or community issue that’s
been nagging at you and you want to buttonhole some of the city’s most
powerful Democratic officials all in one place, you might consider
plunking down $75 to attend the annual dinner of the Benjamin Franklin
Reform Democratic Club.
If you went last week, you wouldn’t have even entered the ground floor
ballroom before you tripped over State Senators Jeffrey Klein, Eric
Schneiderman and Efrain Gonzalez, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and
Councilmembers Eric Gioia and Oliver Koppell, all in full handshaking
mode. Inside the ballroom were over 200 more local movers and shakers.
It’s the kind of local political show of force that Norwood’s Decatur
Democratic Club probably last exhibited in the 1980s.
It may seem like inside baseball to many, but this type of healthy
political activity means a lot to a community. Citywide candidates
campaign in Riverdale, where they seek the club’s endorsement and make
promises on issues important to them. Active community residents see
their officials on a regular basis. The more of them that are involved,
the more the officials feel like they need to produce.
Norwood is still part of the Ben Franklin Club’s constituency (it
considers its boundaries the 81st Assembly District). Maybe the Ben
Franklin Club might consider expanding its membership meeting by having
a few meetings in Norwood, or maybe even its annual dinner! Certainly,
other leaders would become aware of the club and maybe even participate
at a greater level.
The same goes for the rival North Bronx Democratic Alliance, which
launched as an alternative to Ben Franklin. When it started, NBDA talked
about reaching out to less politically involved parts of the district.
We’re still waiting.
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