Democratic New York City mayor Bill de Blasio raised eyebrows on Tuesday for his explanation as to why he continues to crack down on religious gatherings while allowing the George Floyd protests amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Following fierce condemnation, the mayor received for repeatedly singling out Jewish communities on social media for not abiding the shutdown guidelines, reporter Reuvain Borchardt from the Jewish newspaper Hamodia pressed de Blasio on his stance of the lockdown as thousands have taken to the streets, some even rioting and looting across the city.
“The retail store owners have been closed for two months… People from attending houses of worship, our regular part of life, have been banned from doing so with more than 10 people. Now you’ve expressed solidarity with this particular protest cause, is that why it’s been given dispensation to disregard epidemic guidelines?” Borchardt asked. “Are we in a pandemic or not? And do we have one set of rules for protesters and another for everyone else?”
“Thank you, you’re a smart guy asking a smart question, but I’m going to tell you that anyone who thinks there’s different rules for different people, again, is not trying very hard to see the reality,” de Blasio responded. “We’re in the middle of a national crisis, a deep-seated national crisis. There is no comparison. I’m sorry, I do feel for the store owners. I really do.”
After explaining the phase rollout of New York City’s reopening, he continued, “When you see a nation, an entire nation simultaneously grappling with an extraordinary crisis seeded in 400 years of American racism, I’m sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services. This is something that’s not about which side of the spectrum you’re on. It’s about a deep, deep American crisis… Sorry guys, there’s a world outside New York City. So we’re dealing with this.”
Critics piled on the Democratic mayor for his apparent disregard for First Amendment religious rights.
“Again, this means he is actively violating the First Amendment. ‘I agree with the cause’ is not a rationale for allowing one type of gathering while disallowing another. Also, f*** off you absolute incompetent toolbag, @BilldeBlasio,” Ben Shapiro reacted.
“Hooooo boy, Mayor Lindbergh has some thoughts on Jews. He’s asked why Jews can’t pray in groups and responds by associating Jews with merchants who don’t know oppression,” Washington Examiner executive editor Seth Mandel scolded the mayor.
“This is not how it works. You cannot apply selective limitations on rights based on your view of the underlying cause. These rules either apply broadly or they don’t apply at all. It’s clear we are at the point where political leaders have chosen the latter,” writer AG Hamiton tweeted.
“De Blasio picks looters over law-abiding business owners because ‘400 years of racism.’ No wonder his city is being burned,” political commentator Andrew Sullivan said.
“Yes, it’s a good thing that there’s no history of religious persecution in the world!” National Review senior writer David Harsanyi exclaimed.
Critics on both sides of the aisle have been calling for de Blasio’s resignation over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as well as the ongoing protests and riots that have taken place in his city.
The mayor was previously criticized for his outspokenness about shutting down Jewish gatherings, including Yeshiva classes and the funeral of a rabbi that gathered hundreds in Brooklyn.