NEW YORK — The Republican National Convention may have taken over the Big Apple, but that doesn't mean all New Yorkers are happy about it — as the throngs of protesters hope to make known to those attending and covering the event.
One of those protesters is longtime New York resident Moby, who's become more and more politically involved with MoveOn.org and pro-Kerry groups as the election draws closer. He's recorded a pro-peace song with Public Enemy, donated beverages from his new Teany tea line to fund-raising concerts for Kerry's campaign, and he's also played some of those concerts himself. So now, with the Republicans on his own turf, Moby doesn't plan to keep quiet.
"I don't think of myself as being a Republican or a Democrat, left-wing or right-wing," he said. "Like, if there were a fiscally responsible, intelligent, erudite Republican president, I would support him. But I'm so offended by the Bush administration because they're so extremely conservative. What offends me really is their ineptitude, their hubris, their arrogance, and the corruption. I mean, they've created the largest federal deficit, their foreign policy is in shambles, so it's almost like everything they touch, everything they try to do, is disastrous."
Moby said the choice of New York as the site of the RNC will be another disaster, since it will only unearth the resentment those in the Big Apple have toward the administration over how the city's been treated since 9-11. "You have, per capita, more money going to Wyoming — which just happens to be where Dick Cheney's from — for counter-terrorism than to New York City," Moby said. "I hope all New Yorkers do everything they can to let the Republicans know we're not happy."
Not that protesting is going to be so easy. Since the convention is being held at Madison Square Garden, the NYPD has cordoned off a separate protest site "like 15 blocks away," Moby said. So to be seen and heard, protesters might have to resort to more creative measures, though Moby played coy on what most of those would be.
"You're going to see a lot of interesting things happening during the Republican convention," he promised. "I know a lot of progressive groups are thinking how they can creatively stage a protest that doesn't run afoul of the law but still makes a really big impact. Like, they're putting together the world's largest unemployment line, seeing as George W. Bush presided over the first net loss in jobs in the last 75 years, since they've been exporting jobs like crazy."
The risk with being too creative, though, is in making sure to steer clear of anything that could paint the protesters in a bad light, which might still happen regardless of anything they do, he said.
"There was a [World Trade Organization] summit in Miami, and the protesters were all very respectful," he said. "But a car got set on fire, and no one even knows whether the protesters set the car on fire. That night on the news, all the news outlets showed a car burning and said, 'Protests at the WTO convention.' So it made the protesters look terrible. My fear is that the media are going to try and spin whatever protests happen during the RNC to make the protesters look crazy. But most of the people I know who are going to be protesting are essentially responsible, decent people who are not going to be starting fires or spreading chaos in the streets."