As the nation prepares for the Republican convention next week, the Coney Island History Project is exhibiting “Fred Trump’s Coney Island: 50th Anniversary Exhibit.” It includes the demolition of the Steeplechase pavilion.
Older Brooklynites still mourn the destruction of the majestic structure, with its giant slides and chiseled, mechanical horses that raced out over the boardwalk. Why did Fred Trump do this after purchasing the property to build condos on the site? He wanted to destroy Steeplechase before the city declared it a protected landmark, so he took a group of friends and showgirls to Coney Island to hurl rocks through its stained glass facade.
Today, Trump’s son Donald seems to be attempting to do his dad one better — the demolition of the Republican Party.
The Republicans will convene in Cleveland Monday, and the only one who seems to be looking forward to it is Donald Trump. As GOP politicians scramble to avoid the convention, Cleveland police brace for mayhem in the streets.
Like a goat set loose in a dress shop, Trump’s reckless bigotry and demagoguery have torn the party to shreds. Not that it needed much help. It had moved from the party of Lincoln to the party of lunacy, riddled with science deniers and gun nuts who view compromise as a sin.
But just when you think the party has hit bottom, the trap door opens, and from the netherworld emerges Trump, seemingly determined to deliver the coup de grace next week.
Steeplechase was once the most iconic amusement park in Brooklyn. Fred Trump didn’t seem to care. The Republican Party of abolition of slavery and principled leadership was once a building block of America’s greatness. But Trump’s brand of agitation in troubled times won’t make America great again.
Make America hate again? Unfortunately, that seems closer to the truth. Pitting Americans against each other can only end badly, which I fear will come to a head at next week’s conclave, both inside and outside the convention walls.
Comedians Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert plan extended TV convention coverage, expecting a laugh riot.
I just expect a riot. I hope I’m wrong.
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.