This is supposed to be the season of peace and goodwill, but a series of hate crimes have marred the holiday spirit in Queens, which prides itself on being the World’s Borough.
A Muslim woman who works as an MTA station agent was pushed down the stairs Monday as she left the No. 7 train in Grand Central by an attacker who called her a terrorist. The Astoria resident was wearing a hijab.
Over the weekend someone scrawled homophobic messages on a poster for World Pride in Madrid at an Astoria bus stop and defaced another stop nearby.
In Reiff Playground in Maspeth gold swastikas were sprayed on signs near the entrance to the park. Anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and anti-police graffiti also have appeared in the park.
Hate crimes have risen by 35 percent since Queens native Donald Trump won the presidential election after an inflammatory campaign in which he targeted Muslims, Hispanics and other immigrants as a potential threat to the United States.
Hundreds of Queens residents took to the streets last week to establish a hate-free zone in the heart of the borough. They were joined by demonstrators from Muslim, Jewish, LGBT, Asian and South Asian groups across the city who marched from Diversity Plaza to present a united front as Trump assembled his Cabinet.
Those who have known Trump, a longtime New York Democrat before he switched gears and parties, claim he is not a racist nor anti-immigrant. After all, he is the son of a Scottish immigrant and has married two women from Czechoslovakia.
But the rhetoric he tweeted and his speeches on the campaign trial painted a picture of a predominantly white America where the foreign-born were not welcome. Trump’s controversial positions have unsealed some lips and spray can valves among supporters who apparently feel they now are free to express their hate - a disturbing development for this city.
Many, but not all, Queens lawmakers have spoken out against the spate of bias incidents. Every elected official should take a public stand and condemn these acts that have sowed fear in the borough.
We’re waiting for Trump to denounce the hateful intolerance that has surfaced since the election as he did with the white nationalist group that resorted to Nazi salutes to celebrate his victory in Washington.
This is not America, it’s not Trump and it’s not Queens. He has the power of the presidential bully pulpit to deflate the spreading message from these reactionaries and take the first step toward reuniting the bitterly divided country.
©2016 Community News Group
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