NYC mayor lashes out at packed Jewish funeral, faces criticism and apologizes later
Ø On Wednesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized a large gathering for a Jewish funeral amid the coronavirus pandemic. Images showing hundreds of people on the street (on Tuesday night) for the funeral of a rabbi, who died due to COVID-19, were all over the internet.
Ø The mayor said that such behavior “was absolutely unacceptable,” and warned that police would arrest violators and issue summonses at similar gatherings.
Ø “When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed,” De Blasio tweeted. “What I saw will not be tolerated so long as we are fighting the coronavirus.”
Ø Mayor’s comments drew heavy criticism from the community.
Ø In a tweet, the American Jewish Committee said: “We deserve better from our leaders than generalizations and fingerpointing.”
Ø Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council accused the mayor of having a double standard. They said that the police did not disperse the crowd that gathered to view the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds. The air show, which was on the same day as funeral, was held in honor of essential workers.
Ø CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said that mayor’s comments were “outrageous, especially when so many are scapegoating Jews.”
Ø Following the outrage, NYC mayor issued an apology, saying “If in my passion and in my emotion I said something that was hurtful, I'm sorry about that." But, the mayor said that he doesn’t regret calling “out this danger and saying we're going to deal with it very, very aggressively.”
New York City mayor Bill De Blasio’s comments regarding mass gatherings related to the Orthodox Jewish community in New York were poorly worded. Nearly everyone agree’s with De Blasio’s intention to remind people that mass gatherings are prohibited right now, especially in New York City which is one of the hardest hit regions in the world by COVID-19. His language is a different story.
De Blasio tweeted that “Jewish communities” and “all communities” in New York need to be aware that the “time for warnings was over”. De Blasio’s wording was careless for evoking all Jewish communities. This is no different then when Trump was referring to the Coronavirus as the Chinese virus. It is unacceptable for anyone to degrade an entire sect of humanity based on the failures of a tiny minority within it. Yes, there were a few Jewish funerals that needed to be shut down in New York city recently, but those mistakes cannot and do not reflect on the entirety of a people and religion who inhabit the world over, and have been following the same quarantine and social distancing rules as most others.
The Jewish people are one of, if not the most, persecuted groups in human history. That is why we cannot tolerate carelessness in the language used to address these situations, especially by the mayor of the megapolis that is New York. We cannot tolerate from Bill what we will not from Trump. Jewish leaders have pointed to the growing search for a scapegoat in the face of the virus. Blame is being heaped onto China, Federal governments, local governments, the WHO, and anyone that can relieve the pressure people are feeling. The worst thing that we could allow during this time is for blame to start being piled onto religious, ethnic, or social minorities. The need for “all communities” to recognize the universality of the pandemic, and the interconnected nature of our actions in this time, is paramount. Spreading blame helps no one, but empathetic reinforcement of our collective goal is essential: we will curve the spread of the virus.
I certainly agree, his reminder is warranted, but his language is certainly not. This is exactly where the double standard of the media and Democrats begins to reveal its ugly face. Imagine the news cycle if President Trump, or any Republican, had said these words. The talking heads of the media would turn it into a weeklong condemnation of anti-semitism, conservatism, and Republicans in general. When Democrats like De Blasio make horrific mistakes, such as letting New York City be devastated by coronavirus and tweeting these brazen and uncalled for messages, I think conservatives are highly justified in demanding to know how he can get away with it, when no conservative ever would.
And this isn’t to say conservatives want to do or say these things. Oftentimes the media’s criticism of Republicans and the President is fair and worth talking about. However, I see no reason why the conversation should be had if liberals aren’t held to the same standard.
Evan, I think equating this to Trump’s “chinese virus” statements is a false comparison. First, there are a host of reasons, which I have outlined many times before, to blame China for this pandemic. Second, De Blasio’s mistake was singling out a specific community for blame when the whole city was outside, mingling and watching the blue-angel flyover on the same day. In this instance, Trump was right and De Blasio was wrong. Plain and simple.
But Evan, I’m glad that you are calling out the double-standard the way you see it, though I still think you are looking at it the wrong way. I do appreciate your desire to be consistent, and frankly consistency is all that conservatives want from the left and from the media.
Our First Amendment rights are under attack like never before. Leftist Democrats like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are doing everything in their power to keep the churches closed and disparage people of faith, especially Jews and Christians.
Admittedly, the large funeral held for the deceased Hasidic rabbi on Tuesday should not have gone forward, considering the pandemic. But it was one pocket of Orthodox Jews. Still, Bill de Blasio wants to act like every Jew in America is blatantly violating social distancing measures. “My message to the Jewish community…the time for warnings has passed,” he tweeted. Imagine if de Blasio had singled out black Americans, or Muslims, or the Chinese. There would be an outcry of racism.
This also comes from the man who threatened to shut down “churches and synagogues” that did not comply with NYC’s shut-down order, “permanently.” Ignoring the fact he once again singled out “churches and synagogues,” who or what on earth gives Bill de Blasio the power to shut down a place of worship “permanently”? Has he read the First Amendment? When we get to the point that the government can step in and shut down our places of worship, we have forfeited the very thing the pilgrims came to America for.
The incessant attacks on religion throughout the Coronavirus mark a disheartening shift in American culture. It was once the case that our freedom to worship freely was what truly made America, America. It would now appear that people would rather the drive-thru at McDonald's than the drive-in at the church.
Our liberties have suffered because of our backward priorities.
In almost every state across the country, abortion clinics, marijuana shops, and liquor stores are wide open, while pastors are arrested for attempting to hold socially-distanced church services.
We have lost something very dear to us during this pandemic—assurance in our liberties.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Any society that will give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” I fear, we may one day, indeed, lose both.
Anthony, your opening comments that leftist people are doing everything in their power to close churches and attack religions is offensive and false. The entire framing of your response, that religious liberties are under attack right now, is equally untrue, and it has nothing to do with what Bill De Blasio, or the Jewish community criticizing him, is talking about.
Bill did unjustly target all Jews in his comments, but the very next line was “and all communities”. So, while De Blasio’s focus on the Jewish community as a whole was incorrect and offensive, it is a far cry from an attack on Religious freedom in the U.S, and it certainly was not an attack on Christians at all. I have no idea where you’re getting that from.
The problem with De Blasio’s comments is one of generalization, not persecution. He is enabling a negative rhetoric surrounding all Jews when he makes a blanket statement, and he needed to (and did) apologize. Jewish leaders are angered by his careless use of language, which pointed to the Jewish community as a scapegoat by singling them out. They are NOT angry about him shutting down the funeral.
His threat to close religious buildings who remain open in spite of legal quarantine is completely justified, as it would be about any organization that refuses to close its doors to keep people safe. Religious freedom is not the freedom to do whatever you want, wherever you want. If you think it is, then you probably don’t understand religion at all, which is quite concerned with limiting your freedoms.
Religious institutions have not been singled out during the pandemic. They have been subject to the same closures and restrictions as every other aspect of society. There is no reason that places of worship should be given exemptions to quarantine, and no reason you should think that they are under attack because of that.
Faith happens in the soul, not in a house of worship, and I don't recall any New York legislation prohibiting the use of the human soul.