Thursday, October 28, 2004

Nobody Asked Me, But . . . (10/28/04)


What with the league playoffs and the World Series, I've had enough TV close-ups of baseball players, managers and coaches constantly chewing and spitting to last a lifetime. Bubble gum may have replaced chewing tobacco but the constant expectorating is just as disgusting.

In the upcoming election, minority populations have been courted as never before. Westchester County is a multicultural community with a racial and ethnic composition not unlike that of New York State. But what are the population percentages of its significant minority communities? In Westchester, with a population of 940,302, Hispanics now make up the largest minority (17%), followed by Blacks (16%) and Asians (5%). In Census Bureau classifications, Hispanics may be of any race.

The city with the highest percentage of Blacks is Mt. Vernon (60%), followed by Peekskill (26%), New Rochelle (19%), Yonkers (17%) and White Plains (15%). Among villages, Elmsford and Ossining each have the largest percentage of Blacks (20%), followed by Tuckahoe (10%).

Among cities, Hispanics are the leading minority in Yonkers, making up 26% of the city's population of 197,388. White Plains is 24% Hispanic, followed by Peekskill (22%), New Rochelle (20%) and Mt. Vernon (10%). Among villages, Port Chester has the highest percentage of Hispanics (46%), closely trailed by Sleepy Hollow (45%), and Ossining (28%), Mt. Kisco, which is both a village and a town, (25%), and Tarrytown (16%).

Rye is the city with the highest percentage of Asians (7%). (Asians may include Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Pakistanis and Indians, and Filipinos.) Scarsdale, another village/town, claims the highest percentage of Asians among villages (13%), trailed by Ardsley (12%) and Tuckahoe (10%).

In northwestern Westchester, Cortlandt's population of 29,419 is 8% Hispanic, 6% Black and 3% Asian. Buchanan is the "whitest" village (96%), with minorities of 4% Hispanic, 1% Asian and 0.7% Black. Croton-on-Hudson is 8% Hispanic, 2% Black and 2% Asian.

Ossining village's population of 24,229 is 28% Hispanic, 20% Black and 4% Asian. Ossining town, with a population of 4,953, is 7% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 4% Black. Briarcliff Manor is 5% Asian, 3% Hispanic and 2% Black.

One doesn't have to be a military expert to recognize that our request that the British transfer 850 soldiers of the famed Black Watch Scottish regiment from the British area in southern Iraq to aid American troops in the Baghdad area is tacit confirmation that we haven't provided enough troops for the occupation.

As if the government's mishandling of flu vaccine procurement wasn't bad enough, Capitol physician Dr. John Eisold advised all members of Congress to come to his office for a shot regardless of their age or health needs--and many did. His rationale was that they are more exposed to the virus than ordinary citizens "because they have to meet with a lot of constituents." Where does that leave those whose jobs bring them into contact with many people--train conductors, supermarket checkers, bus drivers? No wonder "member of congress" is at the bottom of the list of professions rated for earned respect.

Picture this. It would be difficult to find a more brutish period in history. The air of the teeming cities was laden with the noxious gaseous and solid products of the imperfect combustion of the fires that were used to heat the warrenlike abodes of the people. Buildings sprawled in careless abandon without regard for plan or esthetics. The streets, pitted with gaping holes, were filthy with swirling debris and animal excrement. The drivers of the numberless vehicles that filled these streets rent the air with their insistent clamorous sounds. If a pedestrian should be unlucky or careless enough to be run down, the stricken victim was often left to the chance ministrations of passersby.

The most bizarre costumes and garbs could be seen on the crowded streets. In their everyday dress the people showed no originality, but adorned themselves with useless vestigial remnants of buttons, tabs and belts that once served some now-forgotten purpose. Shoes of animal hide covered their feet. Legless mendicants rolled through the streets while other unfortunates occupied street corners or doorways and displayed their deformities to the passing multitudes. Adequate medical care was available only to the very rich. The favorite stories of the masses with which they occupied their spare time revolved around murder, although other popular themes included the sudden and unexpected accession to wealth through inheritance, the discovery of hidden treasure, the seduction of a vapid woman, or the unfaithfulness of a marriage partner. Their sports were cruel in the extreme. In some sadistic exhibitions, the contenders performed in giant arenas before tens of thousands of bloodthirsty onlookers and pounded each other into insensibility.

Criminal suspects were questioned relentlessly, often being tortured with insidious devices capable of wringing a confession even from the innocent. Convicted criminals were kept in cages smaller than those used to house the beasts that were exhibited in zoos to the cruel and ignorant population. Many of the rabble kept their senses dulled to the brutality they were forced to witness through the ingestion of intoxicating beverages or narcotic substances. Superstitious practices and the divination of the future by the pseudo-science of astrology or card reading were rife. Infesting the courts were hordes of avaricious lawyers who preyed on those unfortunate enough to be caught in the toils of the obsolete and unenforced body of laws whose evasion was almost a national pastime. Venality was not uncommon among the judges who dispensed justice. Similarly, the halls of state were filled with solons who extracted tribute from the populace in the form of crushing punitive taxes. Much of the monies collected were siphoned off by wastefulness, graft or corruption.

The schools were institutions where unusable antiquated languages, outmoded rules of law, applied science dedicated to the martial arts and a self-serving naturalistic view of history was taught. Education had little to do with the world for which students were being prepared. It mattered little; legions of youths were carried off far beyond the nation's borders to fight in undeclared, almost continuous wars that were economically disastrous and whose issues and goals were only vaguely comprehended by the indifferent citizenry. Overlong election campaigns for positions in government were characterized not by a discussion of issues, but by bitter personal exchanges besmirching the character of opponents. Despite prodigious efforts in which vast sums were spent, less than half of the eligible electorate cared enough to participate in the voting.

Everyday life in Imperial Rome? A medieval European city at the time of the Crusades? Charles Dickens's London? No! A picture of life in these United States in A.D. 2004.


AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Comments: Post a Comment | Postscripts Homepage

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?