The Soapbox: Great Wall of China and Lady Liberty

By Susan Steinberg

A big wall will not make us safe. It’s been tried before.

Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of China, the Great Wall actually consists of numerous walls and fortifications. Originally conceived by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c. 259-210 B.C.) in the third century B.C. as a means of preventing incursions from barbarian nomads into the Chinese Empire, the wall is one of the most extensive construction projects ever completed. But it was completed over hundreds of years and six dynasties.

Quick facts:

Length: 13,170.7 miles

Age: more than 2,300 years old

Existing remains: Nearly one-third of the Great Wall has disappeared without a trace.

Since 1644, when the Ming Dynasty was overthrown, no further work has been done on the Great Wall for military purposes. Emperor Kangxi (1654–1722) reasoned that the era of Great-Wall-building emperors and enmity with northern neighbors was over. Moreover, Great Wall construction cost lots of money and manpower, which was bad for his people. He believed that the only way to protect China was to gain international support, instead of border battles.

Though the Great Wall never effectively prevented invaders from entering China, it came to function more as a psychological barrier between Chinese civilization and the world.

Instead of walls, our nation’s most recognized symbol of enduring strength is our Statue of Liberty, whose beacon is welcoming, not repelling like a wall. The spirit of our nation was captured in the words of a poem by Emma Lazarus, whose lines are inscribed on the statue’s base.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emperor Kangxi had it right: build support, not walls.

Susan Steinberg is a resident of Stuyvesant Town since 1980 and the president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

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13 thoughts on “The Soapbox: Great Wall of China and Lady Liberty

  1. Susan, thank you for your political nonsense on this Monday afternoon. The tenants that read this would rather see the TA’s financials and minutes, as well as the ties to the STPCV Tenants Association Foundation’s influx of money from City Hall.

      • Naaah! I’m thinking you’re a pretty small, angry group of misanthropes. Much like you continue to accuse the TA of doing, don’t presume to speak for all tenants… you don’t.

        • Anonymous – why wont the TA release the number of tenants that are currently members? I know that we don’t speak for all tenants, but neither does the TA. The same TA that claims to be the largest in the nation/world, but wont disclose numbers. Why?

          I think we all know why.

  2. Well personally, I thank the Good Lord for Susan Steinberg! She has put very succinctly what this Country is all about. Another way of putting it, to quote Marvin, “Only Love Can Conquer Hate”. For too long, some seem to forget that we are all Americans first, and then for the most part we are Democrats or Republicans. Being divisive for the last umpteen years has not accomplished very much at all, now has it! These are trying times and we all need to work together for the good of our Country.

    Also, Susan Steinberg has done an admirable job representing us Tenants and I for one would like to compliment her.

    • I could not disagree more with your last statement. As a former member of the TA I think tenants need new effective representation. In fact, I know more former members than i do current members. What is the dues paying membership now? 5% maybe? The current TA led by Susan Steinberg and Al Doyle has sold out to Dan Garodnick and management. As a long time tenant i don’t much appreciate that I had to pay a portion of newer tenants MCI’s. The TA should have been sued by tenants over that agreement.

      • “As a long time tenant i don’t much appreciate that I had to pay a portion of newer tenants MCI’s. The TA should have been sued by tenants over that agreement.”

        WHAT?!!! When did this happen?

        • Look at all the apartments that have now been converted from 1 to 2, and 2 to 3, etc. There has not been an updated room count on this property to reflect that. So if your building had 1,000 rooms (totally random number) in 1999 (pre-conversion), it is probably still the same.

          Therefore, there are “market rate” apartments that are paying MCI’s for a 1 bedroom, when in reality they have more rooms in their apartment. You are still paying the MCI’s for your true 1 bedroom.

          The TA refuses to address this because of their relationship with management, but it is a major concern, even if it is a small amount difference each month.

        • The TA negotiated a deal that cut the “new stabilizers” a break and put the burden on long timers over the security camera MCI.

  3. Why not sign what your views are…except when I wrote a flyer threatening to arrest and throw in jail those who have taken the laundry carts to use as furniture, moving from “dorm to dorm”, having had taken them to their apartments and never returning them to laundry room, which was obviously over the top but hopefully got the point across, I always sign my compliments/complaints.

    Why not put your name along beside ;your views. And another thing, I think Dan Garodnick has had a lot to do with protecting us long time rent stabilized tenants and us being able to maintain our residences. I am grateful but having had paid my rent on time for over 45 years
    I think the Landlord(s) have been lucky to have had me, although back in the day I was told that I was not me and was very confused because I had always thought I was me and wondered who I was if I were not me! Turns out, they thought I was my daughter and I don’t have one, Go figure…Yes, there was quite a scene!

    • Kay, I can’t help but feel bad for you and your belief that Dan and the TA have helped us. Both the TA and Dan love tenants like you that believe what they are selling (and I hate to say it, it is usually the older tenants).

      1) Dan is notorious for being the “Darling” of the yearly NYC Real Estate Gala. A true leader would be outside picketing this gala, not schmoozing with them. Dan is not a true leader, he is a true politician, and he is very good at being just that.

      2) Dan and the TA have not saved anything. How can anyone possibly think that what they did is saving the property? If you were to leave your apartment tomorrow, management would gladly give your apartment to the next person in the lottery at a minimum rental rate of $3,200. You have been here for 45+ years, so I am guessing that you pay much less than that. With this deal, nothing that resembles true rent stabilization has been preserved.

      3) The TA’s recent pamphlet contains nothing but scare tactics. Their attorney’s have done nothing to help us in the process with MCI’s. I have a Real Estate Attorney in my family that has actually gotten me results with management. They make it seem like you can only get something back (or end up owing management) if you use them. That is completely and utterly false.

      4) Management does not feel lucky to have tenants like you and I, regardless of how great we are with paying our rent. We are both a burden on their bottom line, which is making money. They are counting down the days until our apartments go from $1000 to $3200.

      I could go on forever, but I hope you see the point I am trying to make. All of the TA (and the TA Foundation), Dan, and management can not be trusted. This needs to be remembered by all tenants as they read correspondence from both the TA and management.

      Steve Anderson

  4. I think the TA has built a great wall around itself and it’s more impenetrable than the Great Wall of China ever was!

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