Don't sugarcoat Dinkins' legacy


To the editor:

(re: “Mayor Dinkins and his ‘gorgeous mosaic,” Nov. 26)

I am sorry my letter is so late in coming in reference to this editorial. I am in Florida, and although the paper is being sent to me directly, the Nov. 26 issue only came a few days before I wrote this.

Regarding Mayor Dinkins and his “gorgeous mosaic,” I felt as if I had stepped into a Donald Trump alternative universe scenario. Dinkins, the editorial maintains, “steered New York City toward not just safety, but also prosperity. Crime dropped. And under Mayor Dinkins, New York once again became a place where people wanted to live.”

This is not the city I remember. Under David Dinkins’ watch, the city’s murder rate peaked at 2,245. In his last year in office, numbers inched down to 1,946. Hardly a number to live with, or that could be described as a safe city. The editorial does not take into account other drug-driven crime — petty, and not so petty.

What is especially startling is the editorial’s omission of the Crown Heights pogrom. This has come to be the singular, most memorable memory from the David Dinkins era. Jews were targeted and terrorized for three days, imprisoned in their homes. A Jew was attacked by a crowd and stabbed to death.

Mayhem reigned for three days as David Dinkins allowed the Black community to “vent” at the expense of traumatizing the Jewish community.

Back in May 1990, Sonny Carson — a community “activist” — and his gang initiated a racist Black boycott of a Korean green grocer for an alleged slight of a Black customer by the owner. “Don’t shop where the owners don’t look like you,” they chanted.

Dinkins, in a characteristic indecisive style, allowed the boycott to continue for months, choosing not to enforce a court order to end the boycott.

By omitting these two crucial events from the David Dinkins’ legacy, the editorial writer is guilty of gaslighting the readership and attempting to rewrite history.

If David Dinkins is to be memorialized, we might remember his civilized attempts to remain above the fray and refusing to get involved in food fights. Ultimately, though, to govern New York City with its “gorgeous mosaic” required making quick and bold decisions.

Those qualities were not the mayor’s strong suit.

Isaac Geld

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Isaac Geld,