My favorite building in New York, the New York Public Library, where I received much of my literary, journalistic, and political education, is being renamed after a buyout baron: the Stephen A. Schwarzman building. For a paltry $100 million gift. This is a scandal. Readers and lovers of learning must rise up against this now!
The New York Times coverage of the news is also shocking in its oily obeisance to Schwarzman. The Times suggests that it is common to rename cultural institutions after rich people. No–that’s football stadiums and basketball arenas. It hints there could be controversy over the library board’s decision without the reporter lifting a finger to find out about the readers’ reaction. Without going into Room 315 and talking to people like me who depend on this temple’s resources, how they feel about his name being "incised" on the outside.
Schwarzman made his money by retooling the American economy in the last 10 years, buying up Wisconsin hospitals and the like and making them more efficient, putting people out of jobs. Yes, call me a populist. I am. The NYPL is a populist/elite institution, free and open to lovers of learning, but warning with its every gesture and intonation that the stupid should stay away.
I’m shocked and upset. And again I say, My people are principals in American society. We are equal members of the establishment.