This past week, hatred again reared its ugly head on our shores after white supremacists and neo-Nazis held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that led to the deaths of three people. President Donald Trump shockingly walked back a denouncement he had made of the incident, claiming that “both sides” were responsible for the violence in Virginia. That the president could insist that there were “fine people” on both sides of the protests when one of those sides was populated with members of the KKK and people carrying swastikas proves that he is unfit to lead this country.
Here in Queens, which is known as the “world’s borough” due to its wide variety of cultures, we celebrate our diversity. On Tuesday, a group of young people from the borough joined elected officials at Jamaica’s King Manor Museum to denounce the Charlottesville rally and Trump’s refusal to lambast white supremacists. Attendees at the Queens rally rightfully pointed out that the bigotry on display in Virginia and the president’s weak response were an affront to basic American ideals.
“Those of us who have studied history, we know where this road goes,” state Sen. James Sanders, Jr. said. “We are not going back to a time where gays were in the closet, where women better stay in the kitchen or in the bedroom, where the blacks knew their place and where we don’t even talk about the Latinos.”
We wholeheartedly agree. The five boroughs—and Queens in particular—are not only bastions of diversity, but New York City is also a sanctuary city that protects undocumented immigrants. And as such, our city’s leaders and residents need to keep speaking out against the type of intolerance that was on display last weekend in Virginia. The president of the United States is a New Yorker. Perhaps, he could learn something from the people in the city he calls home.