Peggy Noonan. White. A white woman, yes, a Manhattanite, but a vital white woman, a woman of opinions, of breathing, of warbling on Sunday talk shows, about America—this America. This country. This great city, New York, where Peggy Noonan sips a gin fizz, contemplates that good American, Ronald Reagan (yes, a good man), and ventures forth—outwards, into the great bustling metropolis—to see what she can see. Lo! Peggy Noonan is surrounded by nonwhites. And what is that awful noise?
Peggy Noonan has a blog. Did you know that? Of course, for you are American. Today she has detailed a new adventure, a new travail, here, in the "Big Apple," as they say, the Apple of America's Eye, New York City, home to Peggy Noonan. She went to a street fair. In Bay Ridge—a faraway place, far, from Peggy's home, way out in Brooklyn, where brown people walk the streets joyously, which should be celebrated, yes, should be embraced, for we are all Americans, and we all want love, and family, and hope. Peggy Noonan wrote a blog post about going to the Bay Ridge street fair, and that alone is occasion enough to celebrate our common blessings.
And what a festival of Americana! "In the beauty shop on 76th Street where my mother popped in to get her hair done everyone spoke Chinese, including a 5- or 6-year-old Asian girl so proud of her new bangs," writes Peggy. Imagine—a five year old, already speaking Chinese, preparing for the new global economic reality. Education. America. A world, together. Peggy has seen so many wonderful things. "Young Asian kids with I phones were tweeting what they were seeing as they walked behind their grandparents." Of Asia, and yet, also, of America. Of innovation. Of a nation together. A street fair, for all. A lone flag waves atop a faraway hill—the stars and stripes. Wavy.
Overjoyed, is how Peggy felt, generally, to see this glorious melting pot, melting, together, as one. But there was a moment which puzzled her:
Everyone different, everyone getting along, everyone feeling free to be who they are but everyone also-you could just kind of see it-feeling free to be different from who they are, too. Everyone selling their wares, not just material ones but spiritual ones. There was a really loud kind of rap group, and I asked who it was because I didn't get its composition-young black and Hispanic men, a middle-aged white woman. Singers from a local church, I was told.
A rap group—and yet. And yet. Not just the young black and Hispanic men, but a middle-aged white woman. This, now, this... this, Peggy Noonan does not "get." She does not get its, how shall we say it... "composition." Yes. We'll say its... "composition." What? Why? How? Aha—singers, from a local church. United by Jesus. Together as Americans, even in the loud rap. This has allowed Peggy to draw the conclusion, you see, that everyone is "feeling free to be different from who they are." Like who? Well, for example, to pick randomly: this white woman, with the rap. She is white. And yet she raps? It is all confusing, and yet, she is free to be different, from who she really is—a white woman, in this great land that Ronald Reagan once ruled with a modest hand.
Peggy shall take this home, this experience, and chew on it, contemplate, allow it to soak in, perhaps with a warm glass of gin in hand. It is all so very overwhelming. And here is her final paragraph:
Only as I write do I realize I saw all this just a few miles from Williamsburg, where a little girl named Betty Smith lived at the turn of the last century. She went on to write a great classic, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," about the new immigrants of her day, the Irish and Italians and Germans and Slavs who became: the American people.
Only as I write, in my Soho office, do I realize that I read all of this just a few miles from Ellis Island—a place where immigrants once landed, and which is now a tourist attraction, that you can visit, even if you are Mexican. Yes. Hmm. Yes. That all ties together very nicely.
[WSJ. Photo: Getty]