We make too much of personal dramas. The arrest of the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn for allegedly attempting to rape of a Muslim, African born, Brooklyn single-parent and chambermaid in a $3,000 a night Manhattan hotel room won’t alter anyone’s support for global capitalism or faith in the socialist conscience of the Socialist Party in France—and mustn’t give any of us any pleasure either.
Yet, isn’t New York something!
For over a century, New York has been a mecca for libertines and clever people who corrupt traditional values. It enticed a globe to dream, spend and borrow beyond its means; recently it paid its capitalist lions fabulous bonuses while other Americans and marginal workers around the world suffered for their excesses. Early in the last century, it wanted to catch up with the greatest cities of Europe and shortly decided that it was a glorious inspiration to the world. Recently, New York has been bombed, scolded, demonized and written off by extremists, populists and futurists living in safe havens in every civilization on earth.
Has all this made New York a suave, more careful place—the kind of place that keeps a close eye on its political masters, maintains respectful relations with other centers of commercial and intellectual power, and knows, intuitively, who to mess with and who to treat with care? No way.
In New York, powerful visitors and tourists get equal treatment. Whether you pay $3000 for the room with a special credit card issued by the most prestigious public financial institution in the world or you pay cash after winning a lottery in Atlanta, you’re in trouble with the Sofitel’s management and the New York police if a chambermaid accuses you of attempted rape.