Will Rahn reports on a letter that Laurie Cumbo, a New York City politician representing Crown Heights, Brooklyn, wrote to her constituents regarding the “knockout game” — a trend in which young black men attack Jews suddenly and violently, for no reason other than wanting to hurt them. Cumbo, a black woman, strains to be evenhanded and pacific, but boy, does she ever stumble here:
Through those interactions, it was brought to my attention by many of the African American/Caribbean residents that perhaps the relationship between the two communities is not as great as it is currently perceived to be by the leadership. At the meeting, I shared that 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.
I admire the Jewish community immensely. I am particularly inspired by the fact that the Jewishc ommunity has not assimilated to the dominant American culture, and has preserved their religious and cultural values while remaining true to themselves. I respect and appreciate the Jewish community’s family values and unity that has led to strong political, economic and cultural gains. While I personally regard [sic] 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.
As an African American woman, this is challenging, because I recognize that it is Black children and not Jewish children that are playing the “Knock Out Game.” Why is this? In many ways governmental neglect, outside uncontrolled influences and failed leadership have led to the breakdown that so many young people of color are currently facing. I feel torn because I feel apart of 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.
Wow. Just, wow. John Podhoretz explains why this is so chilling:
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.
Cumbo is an ally of the incoming mayor, Bill DeBlasio. Her equivocation on anti-Semitic violence is appalling. If white teenagers were attacking innocent black people on the street because they resented blacks for their success, or for any reason at all, I guarantee you that neither Cumbo nor any other politician would be so mealy-mouthed in finding excuses for such criminals.