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The pot and the kettles.

The television commercials shown around the country to promote New York City tourism depict Sinatra, Baryshnikov and Minnelli in full-throated or fleet-footed ecstasy as they extol the best of the Big Apple. Escape those little-town blues! What's happening offscreen, however, is far less entertaining. Racial antagonisms smolder everywhere and sometimes burst into flame: after a black graffiti writer was beaten by police and the medical examiner found "no evidence of physical injury . . . contributing to [his] death"; in the wake of the subway vigilante's shooting spre and his subsequent escape from assault charges; and when 10,000 (mostly white) members of the Police Department took to the streets to demonstrate against the manslaughter indictment of the cop who killed an old black woman the housing authorities were evicting.

Blacks widely believe Mayor Ed ("How'm I doing?") Ooch has provoked racial tension, while many whites credit him as the champion of their interests. Now Koch is on the offensive. Last week he attacked three leading newspaper columnists--two of them black--as "racist," and he charged that black politicians were mounting a "cabal" to unseat him in November.

The mayoral contest has just begun, and it is already a mess of broken coalitions, confused motives and uncertain candidacies. A white woman, Council President Carol Bellamy, and a black man, State Assemblyman Herman Farrell, have already announced agaisnt Koch. If there is a cabal, it's in shabby shape. But race is very much an issue in the campaign, as it has been in all city matters recently, and Koch is far more to blame for that dangerous state of affairs than the people he regularly excoriates. The big-city blues are not yet on TV, but the Mayor should worry what America will see if he keeps up his attacks.

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Title Annotation:New York City racial tensions
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:editorial
Date:Mar 2, 1985
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