New York is the world's greatest city and it was uplifting to hear so many New York leaders express the city's resilience in the wake of last week's terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan.
But as Bob McManus points out in City Journal these officials refused to talk about Sayfullo Saipovm, the terrorist, or the cause that motivated him. Nor, according to McManus, did they talk much about protecting the city and the seriousness of the threat from terrorism.
For example, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who said she was appalled by this "deliberate" (as opposed to accidental?) act of terrorism; she added that the city would not be "deterred" by such "cowardly acts" as those committed by Sayfullo Saipovm. Apparently, she was not quite as appalled a previous terrorist:
Mark-Viverito herself certainly wasn’t deterred by the cowardly acts of convicted terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera, when she arranged—with the assistance of Schneiderman and the acquiescence of Cuomo and de Blasio—to honor him at last spring’s annual Puerto Rican Day parade.
Lopez-Rivera and his confederates maimed and murdered New Yorkers in Lower Manhattan 40-some years ago, crimes that fundamentally differed from Tuesday’s attack only in objective: back then, it was Marxism. Today, it’s Islamism. But you would scarcely know what motivated Tuesday’s attacker from listening to Gotham’s elected class mouth their platitudes.
Why do New York's elected leaders persist in underplaying the cause of Tuesday's attack?
Tuesday’s pickup-truck slaughter was the third fatal terrorist attack in New York City’s 1st police precinct since 1993, preceded by the first World Trade Center bombing and 9/11—each one carried out on behalf of radical Islam. The elected officials made no mention of this because candor would conflict with their political goals, undermining arguments supporting minimal national border security and “sanctuary cities.”
Hard-core New York progressives like de Blasio, Schneiderman, Mark-Viverito, and, increasingly, Cuomo himself, won’t let that happen. De Blasio, in particular, disdains aggressive counterterrorism efforts—he began dismantling a hugely successful NYPD anti-terror unit soon after taking office. So, empty rhetoric rules.
In practical terms, of course, there’s only so much that any city can do to protect itself from the kind of threat New York weathered Tuesday. But Cuomo’s insistence that the terrorist was a “lone wolf” is sheer excuse-mongering, suggesting helplessness while ignoring reality: the Islamist threat is an intricate, Internet-centric, near-transcendental presence that bloody-minded individuals—acting alone, but hardly lone wolves—can step into or slip out of at will.
What local elected officials must do is face up to the hazard directly, avoid euphemism and evasion, and pledge unqualified support for responsible national efforts to combat an unconventional, lethal enemy. This means turning away from the sanctuary-city sensibility—and certainly shunning ceremonial celebrations of terrorists from days gone by.
New York of course is one of the bluest spots in the country and facing up to the nature of the threat would require elected leaders and residents to acknowledge unpleasant truths.