Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Red Star Store

On his program today, Glenn Beck wondered why the Wall Street Occupiers would throw a Molotov cocktail through the window of Macy’s flagship store on Herald Square in New York City? “Why would they do that?” he wanted to know. Macy’s isn’t Bergdorff-Goodman’s afterall. It’s not like it’s high-end (although it tends towards upper middle class).


Why it even sports a red star logo. Oh – wait. The red star is from the tattoo the store’s founder, Rowland Hussey Macy got when whe worked on a Nantucket whaling ship as a teenager. Maybe that’s why they hate his store: he worked on a whaler. That must be it; the logo wouldn’t stand for the Red Star line because Macy opened his first dry goods store in 1843. In 1851, he opened another store in Haverhill, Mass., to serve the millworkers in the area.

Maybe it’s because his first New York City store opened in 1858 on Sixth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets. The New York Herald was located at Herald Square (34th Street) back in those days, so that wouldn’t be it. The New School is situated nearby Macy’s original location.

When in doubt about a progressive agenda, you can always count on Wikipedia to tell you exactly, and with great pride, just what it’s all about. After giving biography of R.H. Macy and a history of the story, here’s what Wikipedia has to say under “Controversy”:

“In July 2003, then-New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer launched an investigation of the private policing system Macy's has used to deal with suspected shoplifters. The investigation was prompted by a civil rights lawsuit and an article in The New York Times, which reported on many of Macy's tactics, including private jails and interrogations. Spitzer's investigation found many of Macy's actions, from ethnic profiling to handcuffing detainees, to be unlawful. Macy's settled the civil rights complaint for $600,000, claiming to have put the illegal tactics to an end while maintaining the security system itself.”

Then there’s this:

"The Macy's East downtown Boston store touched off a local public relations firestorm with the June 6, 2006, removal of two mannequins and the Web address of the AIDS Action Committee from a window display promoting Boston's annual gay pride celebration. The removal was apparently in response to pressure from MassResistance, a local group opposed to same-sex marriage, whose members complained the mannequins were homosexual. The removal of the mannequins was widely condemned by residents and officials, including Boston mayor Thomas Menino, who was quoted as saying,

“’I'm very surprised that Macy's would bend to that type of pressure. Macy's was celebrating a part of our community, gay pride, and they should be proud of the gay community, and I'm proud of the gay community and gay pride.’

“Macy's response to the debacle was to publish an apology by the Macy's East chairman, Ron Klein, in In Newsweekly, a Boston-area weekly with a large gay readership. Klein's description of the incident as "an internal breakdown in communication," further stated it was regrettable some would doubt Macy's commitment to diversity as a result. The Web address was later restored—the mannequins, however never made a reappearance.

“Macy's Boston was also a target of Animal Rights protesters, who held signs and handed out pamphlets throughout the 1990s regarding Macy's participation in the fur trade industry. Macy's West had at the time stopped carrying their line of fur coats and apparel, and although the demonstrations have since quieted, Macy's East continues to sell fur coats and apparel, as does a portion of Macy's South stores.

There you have it, a list of Macy’s “crimes” and “transgressions.”

Thanksgiving is next week. Macy’s puts on a great parade every year. If you’re in the metro New York area, take your kids to the parade, have a good time, and afterwards, visit their Santa. Macy’s has the best Santa you’ve ever seen. His workshop is just amazing.

Then, go buy something from Macy’s. Legally. Evidently, the OWSers took exception to being jailed for shoplifting; they thought Macy’s should give them whatever they stowed in their cargo pants. Macy’s is a great American institution. Its founder was one of those hard-working capitalists who worked his way to success. Let’s show Macy’s solidarity and good citizenship.

Go, Macy’s!

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