Ethnic Cleansing, Threats - and Governor Kathy Hochul
This past week, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (B-Buffalo) took a very dangerous political position: She told the millions of supporters of her Republican opponent, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) that they "don't belong in New York" - and should "get out" and "catch a bus to Florida."
Her remarks - which she has repeated - echo those of her former mentor and boss, Andrew Cuomo, when, in 2014, he said that his political opponents have "no place in New York..."
She then amended her remarks to urge Jews - and Jews only - not to "go to Florida" - but to stay in New York.
These statements - by a sitting Governor - reflect an increasing polarization and violence in political language. And the "new" political strategy of demonizing - "othering" in contemporary sociological jargon - ethnic and political opponents to terrorize them into moving - while whipping-up your own followers and fundraising donors.
Hochul's demonization campaign might be a "new" strategy in New York - something unprecedented. But its a very "old" - and dangerous - strategy out in the world.
Hochul sounds increasingly like the Hutu leaders in Rwanda - where they demonized the minority Tutsi people as "cockroaches" and "fascist" and "exploiters" and told them to "just get out" - before unleashing the 1994 Genocide that killed one million people - men, women, elderly and children.
Hochul sounds also a lot like the leaders of Ottoman Turkey - in the early 20th Century - when they targeted Greeks, Armenians, Lebanese and Assyrians - all citizens of their country - as "immoral" and "subversive" and "not loyal" and to "get out" - before killing over 2 million people - 2 million innocent civilians.
Or the Holocaust - where the death camps were preceded by seven (7) years of violent Nazi rhetoric and political discrimination against the Jews.
The problem with Hochul is that her rhetoric is not just words: She has a political program to drive "the people who don't belong" out of New York.
In Fall 2021, at the behest of the teachers unions, she reversed Cuomo's Health Department - and forcibly masked schoolchildren and shut thousands of schools. She made a "one-party" Gerrymander to eliminate Repuiblicans from every level of government in New York - reversed as "too radical" by a Democratic Court. She has introduced legislation to take away community zoning rights - to "destroy the suburbs" - by forcing apartment buildings into every single-family zoned community in New York. She introduced legislation to end local off-year elections. She passed anti-civil rights legislation to make one million legal gun owners in New York into instant criminal felons - defying the US Supreme Court, the US Bill of Rights - by declaring huge and random chunks of New York into "sensitive locations" where the otherwise legal ownership of even a rifle or shotgun gets you five years in state prison.
Hochul's violent rhetoric - and the increasingly oppressive use of government in New York to oppress and threaten - have had their effect. Over 1.8 million New Yorkers have fled New York over the past decade. That is more people fleeing New York, than the number of Jews who fled Nazi Germany; the number of Greeks, Armenians, Lebanese and Assyrians who fled Ottoman Turkey; or the number of Tutsis who fled Hutu-ruled Rwanda - in the 10 years preceding their respective Genocides.
Hochul is playing a very dangerous game. It needs to stop. And she needs to lose.