City Safari: Kenney

As a Philadelphia City Councilman in 2014, two years before his election as the city’s 99th mayor, Jim Kenney, an Eagles fan, tweeted that Chris Christie, a Cowboys fan, was a “fat ass.” Kenney then let it rip: “You suck! Kissing Texas ass for 2016!” 

Now, that’s intelligence for you!

While sports fanaticism might be a forgivable offense among overzealous males, two years earlier in 2012, Kenney tweeted Lou Dobbs after the latter made critical comments about Obama’s reelection:  “You are a large asshole. Crawl back under your rock. You are a hater and a creep hiding behind your microphone.”

Kenney’s obsession with proctology was not lost on his staff. The solution was the application of a phone app that screened the Councilman’s outgoing messages. The child proof controls worked like magic. In no time, Kenney was ‘tweety clean’ despite a later discovery that he was paying someone $29,000 a year to tweet for him. 

At the height of Philadelphia’s 2015 mayoral campaign, local media referred to Kenney, the son of a working class Irish South Philadelphia family, as “Jimmy from the block.” The term of endearment, while having an old school Philadelphia feel, did not mean that the Councilman gave off chummy neighborhood vibes. If anything, the reverse was true: “Jimmy from the block” has always come across as a remote, isolated and pensive individual as if he’d spent a lifetime trying to find the right “political identity.” 

Dear God, please save Philadelphia from this mayor!

During the June 2020 George Floyd riots when nearly every political protest in the city turned into a melee of broken windows, fires and demolished storefronts, the mayor appeared to be hiding in City Hall until he could figure out what to do, although he did order a daily 8PM curfew when not issuing occasional statements reaffirming that the destruction taking place throughout the city was being caused by a minority of trouble makers.

While his left wing political ties forbade the mayor from condemning BLM or Antifa outright, he did what most leftist mayors and governors did in June 2020: he blamed the violence on a few unruly types, infiltrators who were “not real protesters.”  What he conveniently forgot was the fact that the ‘few unruly’ types numbered in the hundreds or thousands and that their actions crippled the city for weeks, if not months. 

By June 2020, Kenney’s woke wings were already poised for flight,  having been firmly fitted way back in May 2015 when he won the Democratic primary. As The Atlantic noted then, “The Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor pitted a crusading left-winger against a charter-school advocate backed by suburban hedge-fund magnates. This time, the left-winger, a former city councilman named Jim Kenney, actually won.”

“Jimmy from the block” was swept into the mayor’s office by progressives, many of them ‘urbanist’ millennial types who saw his victory as a sign that the Democratic Party, nationally, would soon head in a radical leftward direction.

Nanoseconds after being sworn in as mayor, Kenney signed an executive order reinstating Philadelphia’s status as a sanctuary city for [illegal] immigrants.

“If this were Cousin Emilio or Cousin Guido, we wouldn’t have this problem because they’re white,” Kenney said. He then went on to criticize his own Irish South Philadelphia community for telling Italian immigrants years ago to “go back where they came from.” 

The mayor’s executive order put critics of illegal immigration on notice that he was aligning himself with the policies of big city leftist mayors like Bill de Blasio of New York and London Breed of San Francisco. 

Kenney felt so comfortable in his role as a pro-sanctuary city advocate that he danced an Irish jig in his City Hall office when in June of 2018 a federal judge ruled in favor of the city’s sanctuary city status. That little dance (captured on video) put city residents on notice that Philadelphia was on a big progressivist roll… and there’d be no going back. 

The early days of Kenney’s administration--before the Frank Rizzo and Christopher Columbus statue controversies, COVID, and the George Floyd riots-- were his happiest as mayor because he had not yet gone full de Blasio.

An especially exuberant Kenney, for instance, can be seen in videos rushing onstage at the October 2017 Out & Equal Workplace Summit. Greeting the audience to the tune of Elton John’s  ‘Philadelphia Freedom,’ he told the cheering crowd to keep the faith.  

“The last time I felt so unsteady was 1968 when I was 10 years old and the world seemed to be coming apart like it is today. But the thing I know about 1968 is that we got through it, and we will get through Donald Trump and we will get through this.” The crowd gave Kenney a standing ovation, further proof (not that any was needed) that there was no ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ when it came to Donald Trump fans. 

Kenney, who prefers to read his deadpan speeches (which tend to be rather short), delivers them with as little audience eye contact as possible.  While making his 2015 victory speech he barely lifted his eyes from his hand held script.

Image: Coty Safari: Rizzo

Wokeness in Philadelphia is its own style of pandemic, affecting not only politicians but every cultural institution from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia (where the new director is turning the place into a woke workshop) and even the Philadelphia Historical Commission, which has given the green light to destroying the city’s venerable statues. All of these institutions now drink from the same Flavor Aid. The woke pandemic is so far reaching in the City of Brotherly Love and its suburbs that it has even affected museums like the Pearl S Buck house museum in Bucks County, where one can sign up for a so called social justice tour, presumably to learn how Pearl Buck, author of The Good Earth and 99 other books and who died in 1973, would have behaved as a Black Lives Matter advocate.

As a writer for The Philadelphia Citizen put it, “Millennials love Kenney because he’d grabbed the low-hanging progressive fruit — LGBT equality, marijuana decriminalization, bike lanes.”           

Kenney’s woke credentials were matted and framed when he opted to get rid of the Frank Rizzo statue near City Hall, and the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia.

It should be noted that the city’s mania for statue destruction got a kick start in 2019 with the Flyers’ covering and removal of the statue of Kate Smith, known as “The First Lady of Radio,” and as the best singer of “God Bless America,” outside their sports arena in South Philadelphia. As the singer of some 3,000 songs, it was discovered that Smith sang and recorded two songs now considered “racist,” one of them, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” a hit song from a 1931 Broadway revue that was also sung by Paul Robeson, a black man, and meant (many say) to be a satire on white supremacy.

Kenney was silent during the removal of the Kate Smith statue but the iconoclastic act emboldened the city’s leftist ideologues.  The heat accelerated when a leftist writer wrote on WHYY’s web page:  “Watching the Flyers rid themselves of Kate Smith’s racial baggage in a period of two days places a spotlight firmly on Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who promised in 2017 to move the statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo from Paine Plaza, the courtyard in front of the Municipal Services Building. That’s public property. “

Statue destruction in the city would then proceed like the fall of a row of dominoes.

One year before the Rizzo statue’s removal Kenney promised to move it to South Philadelphia, Rizzo’s home turf and an historically Italian enclave. Kenney changed his mind about moving it there when the leftists who called for the Rizzo statue removal were now calling for the statue of Christopher Columbus in Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia to be removed.

Not even South Philadelphia was safe from the ever widening woke pandemic that would eventually put the Columbus statue in a wooden box despite massive protests from South Philadelphians, freedom lovers and others.

Kenney and the woke political machine in City Hall had done it again. They had gotten their way. Yet even this radical gesture, which should have earned Kenney a Che Guevara award from sniveling leftist policy makers, wasn’t enough to placate their lust for further revolutionary action.    

Left wing writers were now taking aim at Kenney for not being radical enough.

One writer for Philadelphia Magazine (a magazine that becomes woker with each issue) stated, ”Kenney has treated racial disparity in a majority Black and brown city like a check-box issue… He campaigned on a pledge to end stop-and-frisk (and later backpedaled). He vowed to remove the Frank Rizzo statue … eventually (and then was forced to do it sooner than he had planned to). He has declared his intent to take down the Christopher Columbus statue (but only after vigilante South Philly racists left him no other choice).”

This is what our city has become—an experimental lab for Leftist, Marxist Taliban iconoclasts.

We can do one of two things: roll over and play dead and allow this to happen or fight back and put a stop to the woke insanity before it thoroughly destroys this city.

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