Despite the McLuhan global village we’re all irrevocably jammed in for the time being, the oceans that separate the continents remain as vast as ever. Sometimes this can be a good thing; the distance affords detachment, an ability to see the forest for the trees or the racism for the racists. But sometimes it can gloss over some small but important details.
Take the Telegraph’s report into local opposition in Flushing Meadows over MLS’ Michael Bloomberg-approved plans to build a $500 million stadium and accept a $100 million franchise fee for a New York MLS club from likely bidder Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, whose UAE investment group owns Manchester City:
But with Abu Dhabi’s human rights record and ongoing illegality of homosexuality in the emirate, city leaders have been urged to veto Sheikh Mansour’s attempts to secure ownership of the MLS franchise.
“I was shocked to read that the Bloomberg Administration is negotiating to give NYC parkland away to Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, an oil billionaire who helps rule a country where being gay or lesbian is a crime punishable by death,” New York City councillor Daniel Dromm said.
“This is outrageous and totally unacceptable. I urge my colleagues in the City Council and elected officials across the state to join me in saying that New Yorkers won’t do business with a murderous regime and we won’t sell, trade or give away our public assets to those who discriminate and participate in human rights abuses.”
Nestled in here of course is the image of an American fear of the Middle East, as with the not-so-subtle connection between the policies of radical Islamism the Abu Dhabi investor. There is also the juicy prospect of drawing in the US State Department’s recent talks with the UAE over economic policy, which included “exploring ways to ease business facilitation, formalizing mechanisms for linking U.S. businesses with UAE training and internship organizations, addressing regional political risk perceptions related to e-commerce, and looking into opportunities for collaboration in energy, cyber security, and the involvement of the private sector.”
But there is something else going on here, something much more mundane. While Dromm may have his own earnest reasons for opposing the development, the main force of opposition lies with the “Fairness Coalition of Queens”, with whom Dromm has been closely aligned, an advocacy organization which seems more preoccupied with preserving parkland (reflected in their opposition to the United States Tennis Association) than fighting for human rights. And the group has shown no compunction in using the UAE’s questionable record as a weapon in their fight.
But this context didn’t quite make the trip across the Atlantic. And that’s proof enough the FCQ’s strategy is working.
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