Today is the 100th anniversary of my second favorite NYC disaster. As anyone who knows me is already aware (my audience of perhaps three? four?), I make a point of wishing a happy Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire day every year. Normally, the only other mention that it gets is a NY1 “Today in NYC History” mention, but since it is the centennial there is a bit more hubbub about it.
I always assume that everyone understands that this is not some ghoulish affectation on my part but an actual appreciation that a massive historical tragedy inspired some sort societal reflection on what went wrong, and how we (as a society/civilization) might be able to make changes in our philosophy and behavior to prevent a similar (or even vaguely similar) event from happening again. The Great Pantywaist Fire (sounds more magical and perhaps a little feyer) led to not only reforms in fire safety but also to greater power for workers and unions to improve their conditions. My all-time favorite disaster, the General Slocum fire, let to massive reforms in boat safety and government regulation of mass transit.
This year the anniversary is a little more poignant with the recent re-demonification of unions... those greedy unions wanting collective bargaining power to secure healthcare benefits, cost-of-living pay increases, and (oh! the audacity!) fire exits. Somehow, there is now a monologue reminding us about how the benevolence of Executive Management and Owners is being threatened by the money-and-power grubbing laborers. Clearly, if someone has money they deserve it, and those who don’t have it are lazy crumb-bums demanding it at the expense of YOU, the only hard working real American. Of course if you are making similar demands then you are also an un-American commie. After all, the oligarchy gets their authority from god, and no one should fiddle with that.
I know this ranting doesn’t fit within the scope of my blog, but I just don’t want the true meaning of the Great Pantywaist Fire day to fall by the wayside. It’s bad enough that Purim quietly became hipster dufus Halloween.
Next time, back to the usual and informative, I swear: Underpants and Why Factory Seconds Is an Equally Valid Lifestyle Choice