By Bob Friedrich
Newsflash: New York City is a segregated city with “extreme levels of segregation,” and “remains more segregated than most metropolitan areas in the United States.”
At least that is what 11 City Council members, who signed on to a 32-page glossy report entitled “Desegregating NYC: Twelve Steps Toward a More Inclusive City,” would have you believe. This report was the brainchild of Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander, in partnership with Queens Council members Donovan Richards and Antonio Reynoso, among others. It is a torturous analysis of cherry‑picked data that portrays New York as a city as steeped in segregation as the Deep South in the 1950s.
Rather than combatting the real problems of high property taxes, failing schools, corruption and cronyism, these elected Council members would have you believe segregation is NYC’s No. 1 challenge. It’s a time warp mindset of epic proportions and these Council members are prepared to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to radically alter housing and school policies in a social science experiment to end an imaginary problem.
In order to prove its allegations of segregation, the “Desegregating NYC” report dismisses the free will of people who often prefer to live in close proximity to others who share similar cultures and values. Is it no wonder that we have such wonderful communities such as Chinatown and Little Italy in Manhattan, Koreatown in Flushing, Little India in parts of Bellerose, Queens, and so many other niche communities around the city? The “Desegregating NYC” report would have us believe that these vibrant communities are bastions of segregation that represent the worst of New York. In reality, they are bustling communities with hardworking families of all ages who enjoy sharing common cultures and values and choose to live near each other. They are meccas of tourism and culinary delights. But to Brad Lander and other Council members who signed on to this report, these neighborhoods represent the worst of New York and are evidence of systemic segregation that must be eradicated by coercive, desegregation policies.
A common practice of the progressive movement is to cast the net of guilt and blame as wide as possible and then lecture us that we are collectively responsible for the alleged ills of society. The “Desegregating NYC” report does just that, and guilt-shames us in hopes of supporting its 12‑point plan to change NYC education and housing policies. The progressive movement has lurched so far to the left that moderate Democrats find their party almost unrecognizable. Councilman Richards, who I have worked with on other issues and is smart, knows better. He represents a diverse and integrated community from southeast Queens with many real problems that command his attention.
New Yorkers must at some point acknowledge that this progressive dogma is at odds with reality. New York, by any measure, is a city of diversity that welcomes all nationalities, all sexual orientations, citizens and non-citizens alike, and sets aside in its laws expanded discrimination protections for more than a dozen legally protected classes of individuals.
Our Council members should expend their energy fighting for a better quality of life and economic policies that will help all residents of our great city rather than trying to fix illusory problems. As an example, I would urge Council members to adopt policies that will end the crisis currently faced by New York City taxi medallion owners. These small business owners, many of them immigrants, purchased their medallions as investments for their families’ future, based on representations made by the city of New York that their medallion monopoly would not be pierced. Taxi owners have lived up to their side of the bargain, but the city has not, bankrupting many of them.
As the 11 Council members ponder and plan their next move in this quixotic segregation battle, let’s hope we do not see another taxi medallion owner commit suicide, because the value of their million-dollar medallion has dropped to less than $200,000. Where’s the glossy report to deal with this actual crisis? Sadly, there is none, and even less hope that these Council members will muster the fortitude to solve this real-life issue, a tragedy that stands as a detriment to our entire city.
Lobbing racial and segregation grenades only makes the wounds deeper and harder to heal. Such rhetoric will not help those families who are truly suffering right now. A myopic City Council is an inevitable product of a one-party system, which provides no accountability to a party racing towards a progressive cliff with no speed bumps to slow it down.