Volume 74, Number 19 | September 02 - 09 , 2004

Sketches from the RNC: Moe, mayors and more

Villager photo by Josh Rogers
Moe Fishman, holding banner at left, near Madison Sq. Garden

By Josh Rogers

Moe Fishman limped up Eighth Ave. Monday morning on his way to protest the opening of the Republican National Convention.

Fishman, 89, lives near Madison Sq. Garden at Penn South and is one of the surviving Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the group of idealistic Americans who volunteered to fight fascists in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939.

He said 60 million lives could have been saved in World War II had the world realized the dangers of fascism earlier. Told that President Bush would probably liken the war on terrorism to Fishman’s fight nearly 70 years ago, the Chelsea resident would have none of it.

“He’s appropriating [the dangers of] appeasement and using it to justify an unjust war,” Fishman said. “In our opinion, the United States has not been involved in a just war since World War II.”

He said the war in Afghanistan was wrong and did little to stop the spread of terrorism. “Al Qaeda lives way beyond Afghanistan and is growing because of these policies,” Fishman said.

He and a friend were carrying a Lincoln Brigade banner to the designated protest area. He said he was expecting to see two of his former comrades outside the Garden.

Fishman was pleasantly surprised in more ways than one when he marched for a few blocks in the large protest organized by United for Peace and Justice on Sunday.

“I was surprised these young people have heard of us,” he said. “They read about us on the Internet. They come up — these young girls — they want you to take a picture with them and they kiss you,” Fishman said with a smile and what looked to be a twinkle in his eye.

Monday turned out to be New York City Mayor Day at the convention, with former Mayor Ed Koch introducing Mayor Mike Bloomberg in the morning session and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani closing the evening program with a speech making the case for President Bush and criticizing John Kerry for shifting views on Iraq.

Koch, who is still a Democrat, highlighted his political career and asked aloud what he was doing there.

“Democratic leader of Greenwich Village, Democratic member of Congress, Democratic mayor — why am I here?” Koch asked. “I’m here to convert you . . . but that’s for next election. This year, I am for the reelection of George W. Bush,” he said to applause.

When Koch called out his trademark question, “How’m I doing?” some delegates shouted back “Great!”

One of the thousands of journalists covering the convention is Jo Freeman, a freelance writer and Brooklyn resident who said she has been to every Democratic and Republican convention since 1976.

Freeman, who is covering the convention for seniorwomen.com, is the author of “A Room at a Time: How Women Entered Party Politics.” Not many if any reporters know more about the history of conventions than Freeman. She said that the Republicans have required one man and one woman from each state to be on all of its convention committees since 1944 and the Democrats adopted the same policy in 1960.

“When you hear the Republicans say they are against quotas, just remember they have one woman and one man from each state on all of their committees,” she said before focusing back on the Rules Committee deliberations.

A male member was arguing for an amendment that would have allowed four random delegates to speak at the convention about why they are Republicans. He said it would help make the point that the party trusts the people.

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