By Rabbi Aryeh Spero
Mayor de Blasio of New York City recently tweeted what has become a controversial tweet. After hearing of a large gathering of Chasidic Jews in Brooklyn attending a funeral for a well known neighborhood rabbi, de Blasio tweeted: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups.”
While I don’t think de Blasio is an anti-Semite, nonetheless, I would wager my last subway token that he would never publicly tweet against the Muslim, Hispanic, or black community in the general terms he did just now regarding the Jewish community. He was wrong to extrapolate regarding the entire Jewish community based on something done by a subset — namely, the Chasidim of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Boro Park sections. He should have confined his remarks to them, not the 95% of the Jewish community that is not Chasidic and never will be. The “sensitive,” virtue-signaling mayor, like so many in the “progressive” community, confines his virtuousness to the preferred minorities that make up the intersectionality menu.
While too many Democrat governors and mayors are overstepping their bounds and, in authoritarian fashion, prohibiting citizens from practicing their basic constitutional rights of freedom of assembly, speech, and religion, as well as the right and need to make a living, practices such as social distancing used to stem the spread of the corona virus are correct and reasonable. I understand, therefore, de Blasio’s frustration regarding Tuesday’s funeral situation inasmuch as this has happened repeatedly in the Chasidic community — namely, gatherings of dozens where social distancing is not practiced, and doing so at events where religious freedom does not demand the heavy crowding of people in order to pay their final respects. They were wrong and displayed certain indifference.
One suspects that with this tweet, de Blasio is distracting us from focusing on the greater cause of the spread of corona in New York City, which was, and still is, his unwillingness to enact subway rules that could have lessened the terrible contagion spread on the subways and buses, as well as his urging people to visit Chinatown well after President Trump had stopped flights from China, the major source of the spread and contagion. Furthermore, de Blasio and Governor Cuomo are guilty of abandoning the elderly in nursing homes across New York City, thereby causing an exponential rise in COVID-19 deaths. Now, to counteract his weak and out-to-lunch image, de Blasio is acting like the tough new sheriff in town. The Chasidim are also easy pickins.
Furthermore, both the mayor and the governor have terribly mismanaged the hospital situation in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and parts of Manhattan. That’s the real New York story. As mentioned, Cuomo and his people didn’t have the basic medical supplies needed for nursing homes and allowed the homes to become bastions of infection and contagion. When asked about his lack of preparedness regarding nursing homes, Cuomo cavalierly answered: “It’s not our job.” The matinee idol quick to tell President Trump that Mr. Trump is responsible for everything under the sun refuses to take responsibility for a jurisdiction specifically under his state authority: nursing homes. But because he is seen as a daily challenger to Mr. Trump, Cuomo is given a free pass by most New Yorkers who hate Trump more than they love honesty, fair-mindedness, and even their city.
Cuomo and especially de Blasio are always quick to condemn President Trump, though President Trump has been the nation’s hero, who has done far more things to rescue New York than New York’s own mayor and governor. I think the mayor’s and governor’s current authoritarianism is designed to make them appear serious in light of how negligent and ill prepared they truly have been. It is highly alarming and worrisome to behold the utter partisanship of a media establishment that ignores the blatant negligence of de Blasio and Cuomo while maligning all the masterful accomplishments of President Trump during this virus episode. This bias and lack of fair play is un-American. But what can we expect from smug elitists who despise the American value system?
The whole country has been shut down for a situation that is centered far more in the very southern tip of New York than the rest of the country. There is no doubt that the elitist cosmopolitans in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including de Blasio and Cuomo, would have never allowed New York City to fold its streets and stop human activity if the epicenter were in Idaho or Alabama.
I imagine that de Blasio will amend his tweeted remarks. To their credit, the Chasidic group in Williamsburg today expressed their regret for allowing the packed crowds. Hopefully, they learned their lesson. Mr. de Blasio’s tweet, however, is but a sideshow to the much bigger epidemic of negligence and corruption in 2020 New York. Equally upsetting is de Blasio’s announcement two days ago that New York City will be sending 500,000 free meals to NYC’s Muslim population for their upcoming Ramadan. I doubt that de Blasio sends out millions of free meals to Catholics for Easter.
The mayor says, “Ramadan is a holiday reminding us of the Koran’s message to feed the hungry.” If so, let the Islamic community themselves, the followers of the Koran, demonstrate and fulfill their sacred text by offering meals to their own community, paid for by them as a way of verifying their belief in the Koran’s teachings. I suspect that the $7.8-billion bill de Blasio plans on sending Congress, paid through the taxes of people from South Dakota and Iowa, will list a $10-million catering item. No, I don’t think de Blasio would have publicly tweeted against the entire Islamic community.[Originally published in The American Thinker, April 30, 2020]