Ever since presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-Deep South) accused his fellow demagogue, Donald Trump of having "New York Values", the internet has plunged into a discussion of what constitutes such values and whether distancing oneself from them will "work" politically for Sen. Cruz. Trump predictably went to the 9/11 response as illustrative of such values; Cruz responded with a denouncement of abortion and gay rights, correctly said to be widely championed in the Big Apple.
It should come as no surprise that I'd argue "New York Values" are centuries old, dating back to the fundamental ethos of tolerance, materialism, and multiculturalism of the New Netherland colony and the Golden Age Amsterdam culture that created it. It's an argument laid out in my book, American Nations, of course, but I haven't had a chance to distill it for insertion the current debate.
Thankfully, Jordan Fraade, a student of urban policy at UCLA, has done it for me. Writing at Al Jazeera America, Fraade lays out the city's culture, correctly recognizing that tolerance is a double edged sword: tolerant of difference, yes, but also of slavery. It's the sort of place that would never vote for Donald Trump, but certainly helped nurture the creation of a morally flexible, highly materialistic real estate baron with global branding ambitions and a relatively liberal stance toward social programs (for "real Americans" as opposed to those dirty "others" on whom the people's problems can be blamed.) He's not a tolerant fellow, to be sure, but in other ways he's recognizably New Netherland-ish. It's hard to imagine him having grown out of Greater Appalachia, even though that's where the core of his support is.
For Ted Cruz, attacking the tolerant, diverse world of New Netherland makes sense: his base isn't much fond of either, nor are the Evangelicals who mysteriously support Trump, who Cruz needs to peel off to win the GOP nomination.
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.