Happy birthday, Mother Teresa! If you were alive, you would be 100 years old—not that anyone’s counting. In fact, instead of talking about how you spent your life helping people in India, everyone is busy either celebrating you or protesting the fact that you’re not being celebrated. Right now, there’s a rally organized by the Catholic League being held at the base of the Empire State Building to protest building owner Anthony Malkin’s decision to reject the league’s request for blue and white lights in your honor! Instead, tonight Mr. Malkin is illuminating his prime piece of real estate in a red, white and blue lighting scheme to honor Women’s Equality Day. Since the Catholic League’s proposal failed, the group has amassed a petition that is 40,000 signatures strong decrying the lack of your favorite colors on New York’s tallest skyscraper. The League’s birthday bash will feature speakers from within the organization, the State Senate, the City Council, and elsewhere.
You’d love it.
Besides, we have other buildings and stuff. Times Square, the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum and Borough Hall will be draped in blue and white. There was a Mass earlier today for you at St. Patrick’s (you probably know that?). And City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has asked New Yorkers to place battery-operated blue and white candles in their windows. So there’s that, too.
Why exactly did Mr. Malkin refuse to light up his historic skyscraper on your behalf? His response to the debate came in a press release: ”As a privately owned building, ESB has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.” There is no such prohibition involving smokin’ hot pop songstresses, such as Mariah Carey in 2008. Perhaps Mr. Malkin places himself in the same camp as Christopher Hitchens, the guy who in 2003 announced in his typically bombastic style that you were a “fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.” Zing!
For New Yorkers wanting to celebrate your birthday, there are two major options then: bask in blue and white in Times Square or Borough Hall, or release some anger protesting at the lack of blue and white at the Empire State Building. Choices, choices…