New York City's mayor has banned all large gatherings this summer - apart from Black Lives Matter rallies. In a crowded field, this just might be the most nakedly political move of the pandemic.
Bill de Blasio has decided that summer is cancelled for New Yorkers... unless they're campaigning for BLM. The New York City mayor has announced that all big events for the summer season in the Big Apple are called offin order to tame Covid-19, the only exception being if those gatherings are in the name of social justice.
Regardless of whether you are the biggest coronavirus bedwetter convinced everyone is going to die from the disease, or one of those who believes the whole thing is a hoax cooked up to control the population, De Blasio's actions make no sense.
As far as I am aware, Covid-19 is pretty apolitical as a disease. The finest brains in virology are yet to discover any link between a person's worldview and how likely they are to get the virus. An Antifa activist and a klansman are both equally likely to carry or catch the virus, although I suppose they do both agree on the importance of face coverings.
De Blasio's reasoning for not banning the BLM protests was that the protestors' calls for racial justice were too important to silence. He explained to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "If you're just talking about health, we would always say: ‘Hey folks you know stay home if you can but we understand this moment in history, people are talking about the need for historic changes.'"
We get it Mr Mayor, it's an election year, you don't like Donald Trump and you are hopping on the latest liberal bandwagon to advertise your right-on credentials. Of course it doesn't matter that New York has been one of the worst hit cities in the US by the coronavirus outbreak (22,719 deaths at last count). It doesn't matter that 64 people were shot in your backyard last weekend, ten of whom died, including a father holding his six-year-old daughter's hand. It doesn't matter that a total of 205 people were shot in June, the highest number for that month since 1996.
Clearly these spikes in violence are nothing to do with you and your policy of reducing the number of prisoners by releasing violent felons. NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea may have told a local radio station that you had taken "basically half the population of Rikers Island and put it on the streets,"but obviously he's a white cop so probably a racist that can be ignored.
While the former New York police Commissioner Bill Bratton, hailed as the man who tackled its out-of-control crime of the 1980s and ‘90s, warned that 20 years of progress in battling crime was being lost and the city was in a "mess".
But these frivolous, petty, irrelevant little issues are no concern of yours, Mr Mayor, are they? No, because you have more important things to do like painting a Black Lives Matter mural on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower. I'm sure New Yorkers will be thrilled that during a pandemic and a crimewave, their head of local government thought doing a two-bit Banksy impersonation was the best use of his time.
At the best of times, virtue signalling gesture politics are annoying. In a situation like this, they are downright dangerous. New Yorkers do not pay Mr De Blasio to ponce around painting pavements to show that he, a Democrat, does not care for the current Republican president, they pay him to keep the streets safe. For the sake of the people of New York, put down your paintbrush and do your damn job.
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