There's no place for hate in Riverdale, or anywhere


(re: “Care about people — just make sure it’s right people,” Aug. 1)

It was alarming to read a recent Point of View about immigration policy where the author referred to undocumented immigrants as “locusts,” and used an incredibly condescending tone to describe so-called “Upper West Side liberal Jews” who might disagree with the premise of the Point of View.

I was not alarmed because of the author’s perspective, but rather because of the irresponsible and downright dangerous language he used.

We are living in very dangerous times. Times where anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant sentiments are boiling over. As a black man, married to a Latina with three children of color, I empathize very strongly with living with the fear of imminent danger felt by the immigrant and the Jewish community.

These times are even more dangerous considering the demagogue in the Oval Office, and the rise in white nationalism throughout the world. The white nationalist terrorist acts in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; the Pittsburgh synagogue; Christchurch mosque; and the Charleston, South Carolina church among others, are not aberrations. They are becoming the norm since the 45th president took office.

In this time of endless media, and with the president spewing hate toward immigrants since the beginning of his campaign, we might consider certain speech as akin to “causing imminent lawless action.” The Point of View is just the kind of speech that white nationalists use as license to inflict terror on people different from them.

And as we know, the president has provided enough license with his rhetoric. He has spoken of communities of color as infested, referred to black nations as (expletive), and recently tweeted for four freshman members of Congress to “go back to their countries.” In the days following this tweet, the president’s followers at a Greensville, North Carolina, rally chanted “send her back,” without any recourse or condemnation from the president.

Hate is everywhere, and the news media can’t seem to get enough of it. It is our job, as Americans who see our country as a place of refuge and who believe in the human family, to push back against enmity in any and every way.

I am happy to report that the people we have met in Riverdale during this campaign do not empathize with the feelings of the Point of View’s author. They believe in humane immigration reform that provides care to asylum seekers and expedited processing at the border — that doesn’t create internment camp conditions.

Our campaign will continue to fight to abolish U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, to close the camps completely, and for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and others. We should expand our legal immigration system, and we need to work with neighboring nations to help them improve their infrastructures. Instead of constantly investing in military might and harm, let us show the world the strength of our morality through our humanitarian efforts.

The Point of View’s author could have argued his stance on immigration without being incendiary. He chose to use provocative language that might incite violence. My question is why?

Regardless of the reason, I look forward to continuing to work closely with the good people of New York’s 16th Congressional District to open doors and build bridges toward collective understanding and growth. We will continue to come together to defeat hate, and we will work non-stop to solve the addiction, environment, housing, health care, jobs, safety and education issues throughout the district.

The author is a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, challenging incumbent Eliot Engel for New York’s 16th Congressional District.


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Jamaal Bowman,