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I recently saw a large, colorful poster on the subway platform that is part of a recent advertising campaign promoting New York City. The sign read, “We Love That Hate Is Never Ever Tolerated,” and I thought, “What a crock,” as I kept a careful eye out to avoid potential trouble in the station.
I can’t remember a time when there’s been more hate on open display in this city, whether it is opposing demonstrators screaming obscenities at each other or ordinary citizens minding their own business finding themselves victims of hate crimes. Ironically, the purveyors of hate sometimes find themselves victims of crimes.
The pitiful advertising campaign reminds me of how our politicians are treating illegal immigration, the economy, the border crisis and crime. “Everything is under control,” they say, but our eyes tell us a different story. Not that it matters to our politicians. Apparently, they have concluded that they can fool all of the people all of the time, or at least those few who cast enough votes to put them in office, as evidenced by the most recent city election.
There was a time when politicians in New York City confronted hate head on. No expensive advertising campaign was necessary to cover their indifference. History shows us that they not only spoke against hate, but took action. Way back in 1922, Democrat John Hylan was mayor of New York. Today the only thing most people know about him is that a highway in Staten Island bears his name. But when Mayor Hylan got wind that the Ku Klux Klan had set up shop in Brooklyn and was seeking new recruits, he immediately ordered his police commissioner, “Ferret out those despicable, disloyal persons who are attempting to organize a society, the aims and purposes of are of such a character that were they to prevail, the foundation of our country would be destroyed.”
Within three weeks, the police had identified 800 Klansmen and turned their names over to the district attorney. Those actions alone were enough to prevent the Klan from getting a foothold in New York.
Fast forward to 1940. Fiorello La Guardia was mayor. Although it was not much publicized, his mother was Jewish. He was appalled by the news coming out of Germany as to how Jews were being treated there. So, when the Germans sent an official delegation of high-ranking Nazi officials to New York City, La Guardia had his police commissioner assign a contingent of Jewish patrolmen as their official escorts for the duration of their stay and made it known. Predictably, the Nazis were appalled, but La Guardia remained unfazed even after the Germans lodged an official complaint with the State Department.
In both of these examples, the mayors of New York spoke out and took action against hate. I do not hear that same message today from City Hall. Maybe the mayor’s legal problems are keeping him quiet. In either case, silence is deafening. But I do see an expensive advertising campaign when I ride the trains extolling the love New Yorkers supposedly have for each other. No doubt that money could be better spent.
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