A recent front page of The New York Daily News, with the headline HATE AND THE CITY, proclaimed: “Jews targeted in 24 of 43 attacks last month” while the insert – a photo of an MTA worker who’d recently been assaulted – sported the caption “Hate crimes against Jews and Muslims…have spiked since election of Donald Trump.”
It was a frightening headline. Which reminds me of a joke.
A long-bearded rabbi was walking through Belfast late one night when he was suddenly jumped by a tough, young member of the Provisional IRA. “Tell me,” demanded his assailant, “are you a Catholic or a Protestant?” Fearing for his life, the rabbi replied, “Just look at me! I’m a rabbi!” The attacker stood back for a moment and looked the rabbi up and down. “Well,” he exclaimed, “are you a Catholic rabbi or a Protestant rabbi?”
Back to the Daily News: “Hate crimes spiked, spurred by the election of Donald Trump, officials said.” The article said incidents of reported hate crimes in the city had more than doubled, and most cases were anti-Semitic in nature. They equated these anti-Jewish attacks to the things President-elect Trump had said about Mexicans and Muslims.
Which raises the question: Are these Mexican Jews or Muslim Jews?
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio also blamed Mr. Trump. “You can’t have a candidate for president single out groups of Americans negatively and not have some ramifications,” the mayor said at a press conference. Asked if he blamed Trump directly, the mayor replied, “Do I blame Donald Trump for using hate speech in his campaign? Absolutely.”
Here’s the question one of the reporters should have asked that day: Were hate crimes – and other crimes – up in our city before Donald Trump announced his candidacy?
Following the mayor’s press conference, some reporters did their homework. The New York Post soon afterward noted that far more hate crimes were reported in New York City during and after the 2012 presidential campaign. There were reportedly 403 incidents then versus 360 this year through the same time span. Does the mayor blame President Obama for those crimes?
The real question is: Why were hate crimes up in New York City before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president?
I’m as upset as the next person about hate crime. Prejudice of any stripe has no place in our city, our state, and our country. Most people know better and raise their children better. We’re not a nation of haters. And everybody would like to do away with crime – hate crimes and violent crimes in particular. But as I’ve said again and again, there’s a difference between wanting to curtail crime and genuinely addressing the issue.
I can’t recall a single city administration in my lifetime owning up to its role in the increase of crime – not evens the Dinkins administration, which did little to address the pogrom on Jews in Crown Heights. When crime stats are reportedly down, plenty of people are willing to take credit, but accepting some of the blame when they soar? It’s much easier to blame somebody else. And it’s become increasingly easy to point to Donald Trump.
Crime must be addressed with crime prevention. Like stop and frisk, and stiff penalties, and unshackled police surveillance of likely suspects. Scapegoating anyone other than ourselves for not addressing crime is disingenuous.
If I came home and found the plumbing backed up, I could probably find a political tangent to make me feel better. But if I wanted to fix the issue, I’d call a plumber.State Senator Simcha Felder