One interesting aspect of Bill de Blasio’s landslide victory in the New York mayoral race last month is that it leaves the city with very little electoral life outside the Left.
The City Council speaker will almost certainly be someone as left-wing as the mayor; the new public advocate hails from the same left-wing political machine (the Working Families Party) as de Blasio; and most of the newly elected members of the City Council are doctrinaire as well. So the question immediately arises: Who will stand against Leftist infamies when they occur? We will find out in the next day or so, because the first major one has just happened.
There is a new City Council member from the neighborhood in Brooklyn called Crown Heights, which is ethnically the city’s most interesting—a mix of blacks mostly of Caribbean origin and ultra-Orthodox Jews mostly from the Lubavitch Hasidic sect. Her name is Laurie Cumbo, and this week she decided to take to Facebook to express some thoughts about the recent spate of violent “knockout game” attacks in which passers-by find themselves being struck hard in the face by someone’s fist for no reason. She reports that at a community meeting called to discuss the violence, she said this.
“Many African American/Caribbean residents expressed a genuine concern that as the Jewish community continues to grow, they would be pushed out by their Jewish landlords or by Jewish families looking to purchase homes. I relayed these sentiments at the forum not as an insult to the Jewish community, but rather to offer possible insight as to how young African American/Caribbean teens could conceivably commit a “hate crime” against a community that they know very little about.”
Her insight into why a thug would punch a 19 year-old Hasidic kid in the face in the middle of her district while his friends watched, in other words, boils down to Jewish money. Cumbo knows she is treading on delicate ground here, so she attempts to mitigate the damage: “I respect and appreciate the Jewish community’s family values and unity that has led to strong political, economic and cultural gains.” And then she went all in: “While I personally regard this level of tenacity, I also recognize that for others, the accomplishments of the Jewish community triggers feelings of resentment, and a sense that Jewish success is not also their success.”
Cumbo hastens to make clear she is against such crime–against it! “If one person attacks another, regardless of the motivation, there is no justification for such an action. We should never blame a victim, or try to explain away any wrongdoing. The issue of race or religion is but a red-herring one when it comes to crime.”
Cumbo just can’t leave it there, because she feels the “system” is rigged and so she is being compelled to argue for something that makes her unhappy: “I feel torn because I feel apart of [sic] the very system that has caused the destructive path that so many young people have decided to take while I am simultaneously demanding that they be arrested by that same system.”
So here we have it. Jews are crowding out black people in Crown Heights, they are stoking resentment because of their financial success, and while there can be no justification for acts of violence, it’s a terrible pain for someone like Cumbo to say those perpetrating the violence should be arrested because they are victims too. Such textbook apologetics and excuses for crime hearken back to a different and far worse time for New York City, as does the nauseating stench of Cumbo’s classic anti-Semitic stew.
It was in the very neighborhood Cumbo now represents that the worst anti-Jewish event in modern American history took place: A three-day riot in 1991 following the accidental killing of an African-American child by a limousine driven by a Hasidic man. Two men were killed, stores were looted, and homes were targeted by Molotov-cocktail throwers through spotting the mezuzot on the doorfames. It was a shattering event for the city, not least because the mayor at the time, David Dinkins, seemed to feel as though he was powerless to act as the riot spread. His conduct during Crown Heights was so shameful it came to be one of the key reasons Rudy Giuliani ousted Dinkins from City Hall—even though the election took place two years later.
One thing New Yorkers knew in the wake of the Giuliani election was this: Acts of violence were going to be addressed, not excused; and anti-Semitic conduct would be greeted with roars of protest and outrage from City Hall. Eight years of Giuliani stilled and calmed the city; 9/11 created a new era of good common feeling; the perpetuation of Giuliani policies under Michael Bloomberg helped keep the urban peace. Now, only a month before the inauguration of DeBlasio, something ugly and evil is rearing its head. Who is there to speak out against Cumbo’s words?