By The Times-Ledger
Not long ago, we urged the organizers of the Lunar New Year's Parade in Flushing to work harder towards the goal of unity. At the time, there was a bitter fight over which hyphenated-American organization would run the parade.
There are two ways to achieve unity. The first is to create a willingness to tolerate an even embrace people with different political and religious points of view. The second way is to make sure that no one participates who might hold a point of view different that of the parade organizers. That, of course, is the coward's way out. And sadly, that is the path chosen by the Flushing organizers of this year's parade.
First, the organizers with ties to the government in Beijing decided to ban members of dissident political organizations to march in their parade. And then they decided to give the boot to the members of Falun Gong, an extremely popular religious organization, which has been under heavy persecution from Beijing officials. The parade organizers complained that the outlawed sect is also a political organization and they said that a demonstration of the slow Tai Chi type exercises practiced by Falun Gong would slow the parade.
No one believes the organizers. They don't want Falun Gong to march because they don't want to offend China's aging dictators. The only thing political about this sect is the way in which their practice of their faith has shaken a government that is intolerant of religion. In fact, in the hundreds of articles written about the courageous men and women who belong to this sect, there has not been a shred of evidence that the organization is political in nature.
The organizers of the parade seem to have forgotten that they now live in America, a nation which cherishes freedom of religion and speech. They have forgotten that Flushing itself is the birthplace of religious tolerance. The marchers in the Flushing parade are no longer Chinese, Taiwanese or Korean. They are Americans, proud of their heritage and ancestry and proud of the new land that they now call home.
The world's great Asian cultures converge in Flushing. For each of these cultures, the Lunar New Year holds a very special place. For those with no roots in the East, the annual parade offers a glimpse into the traditions of the Asian culture. The parade is just one more of those uniquely New York events that makes this city such a great city in which to live.
We hope that the organizers will not let the religious and political intolerance of the Old World put a damper on the Lunar New Year celebration.
Power for the people
We are disappointed that the New York Power Authority (NYPA) has decided not to listen to the growing number of Queens residents who don't want a power plan built on the waterfront in Long Island City.
Last week, Borough President Claire Shulman and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer joined Silver Cup Studios in urging the NYPA to build their plant somewhere else. They argued that the plant was not consistent with plans to revitalize the waterfront and that it might force Silver Cup to relocate to New Jersey.
The opponents then offered an alternative location. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. The NYPA said it is going forward with its plans and will start construction in the next two weeks.
In light of the power shortage in California, no one can deny the urgent need for the supplemental power stations. The NYPA must move quickly but it must not ignore common sense and the needs of the community. If the alternative sites are adequate, the NYPA should listen to the voice of the people.
©2001 Community News Group
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