Is there a classier lady anywhere than Shannon Slutman, widow of FDNY firefighter Christopher Slutman — killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan while serving as a US Marine Corps reservist?
No, there is not.
Meanwhile, is there a bigger dope than Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, the pandering jerk from Greenwich Village who was hard-pressed to find a few bucks to help send Gold Star kids to college — while lavishing millions on scholarships for the offspring of New York’s legion of illegal, um, arrivers?
Pandering jerks travel in herds in Albany, so the competition for primacy is intense. At the moment, border-jumpers are favored over border-protectors in legislative councils, so the Slutman family’s three young daughters are at a distinct disadvantage.
Politicians are born to pander, of course; that’s what they do best. But one can learn a lot from what they find pander-worthy; lately lawbreakers are a favored class — and not just in Albany.
But first, Shannon Slutman.
New Yorkers who are old enough, and not named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, understand the exquisite pain that attends a death in service to America.
The FDNY’s 9/11 agony — 343 dead in a flash of rolling fireballs and collapsing skyscrapers — would have been unbearable save for a 136-year tradition of allegiance to duty in the face of lethal peril. All give some, some give all is a hoary catchphrase for most — but a sustaining ethic for others.
Shannon Slutman understands this. How could she not?
Her husband was a firefighter, and he was a Marine — another organization that stares down mortal danger every day, but at a price.
She, too, is a hero — suffering exquisitely in the moment but at the same time thinking of others.
“The girls and I thank you for the outpouring of love and support,” she wrote last week. “My husband was a humble man . . . passionate about his family as well as being a firefighter and a Marine. Above all, Chris was a man of integrity and a gentleman in all he did. In honor of Chris, please . . . do something kind for another.”
Do something kind for another. Wow.
Now the skirling pipes and the muffled drums will be for Chris Slutman, an echo from the weeks and months following 9/11 — and the universally recognizable sound of heroes being laid to rest.
Fast forward to Deborah Glick and her colleagues, caught last week short-changing Gold Star families while sprinkling $27 million in tuition aid on so-called dreamers.
These are the children of people in America illegally, folks who themselves have no legitimate claim on American resources because they have no legitimate claim on American residency. By definition, their presence is an affront to the rule of law.
Which is just fine by Glick and crew, whose own casual disdain for law is underscored by their recent legislation drastically reducing the use of cash bail, speeding up the parole of incarcerated felons and expunging existing criminal records.
Albany’s action mirrors policies in New York City that effectively decriminalized marijuana possession, aggressive vagrancy and mass-transit fare-beating — together costing New Yorkers a sense of security in their streets and the MTA some $235 million in fare revenue.
The connection between this new normal and the shameful disrespect for Gold Star families may seem tenuous, but it’s really not. It reflects a state of mind that places “dreamers” at the head of the line while shooing the children of heroes off to dark corners.
There’s not a lot of money at issue here — less that $1 million in a $175 billion state budget — so it’s no surprise that sufficient cash apparently was found when Gov. Cuomo suddenly became involved. While his motives often are suspect, his political instincts are sound.
The same can be said of Glick & Co. Most in that mob are dumb as doorknobs, but their survival skills also are acute; if pandering to border-jumpers and other petty criminals suddenly must be balanced with a nod toward Gold Star kids — well, that’s politics.
Meanwhile, spare a thought — and say a prayer, if you’re so inclined — for Shannon Slutman and her three now-fatherless daughters. If anyone deserves a respectful salute today, they do.
Bob McManus is a contributing editor of City Journal.
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