By Greg Smith
Why is being against gay marriage equate to being anti-gay, and why does disagreeing with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo make someone an extremist? These are but two questions Cuomo needs to answer in the wake of his explanation that those who are not moderate enough to unquestioningly follow his agenda “have no place in the state of New York.”
Cuomo, speaking on The Capital Pressroom, defined as persona a non grata in New York “extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay. . . they have no place in the state of New York. Because that is not who New Yorkers are.”
This constant desire to marginalize others as ‘extremist’ may be personally comforting, but it is the oratorical equivalent of saying “You’re a jerk.” This is for the lazy and shallow who don’t want to or cannot explain the value or their own positions. Kierkegaarde said “Once you label me, you negate me.” In modern American politics, when you label someone an extremist you also negate yourself.
Defining New Yorkers is as easy as coming up with a single color that describes a 120-count box of Crayolas. In a state that includes one of the capital cities of the planet and the remote hermitage of Noah John Rondeau hidden away between the Seward and Santanoni ranges in the Adirondack Mountains, the diversity of belief and lifestyle is staggering. The state has a string of urban centers upstate surrounded by abundant rural areas in the Adirondacks, Tug Hill Plateau and Route 17 corridor that include areas with a population density of less than two persons per square mile. At night one can drive through valleys and not see a light.
New York state is probably more diverse than 80% of the world’s nations. Yet the governor of this anthropological curiosity views New Yorkers as a homogenous majority of like-minded good people, and a minority of radicals who are politically and socially backward. Cuomo tried to explain away his statement, but “extreme” is a pejorative used to discredit others without ever having to engage in debate, and drawing on a canvas of such contrast is unrealistic. He cannot explain that away.
The political divide in the state is obvious: As a generalization, New York City and downstate tend to be Democratic and liberal, upstate tends to be Republican and conservative. In the wake of the 2001 terror attacks did the powers that be check the political and religious beliefs of the New York National Guard members and first responders from upstate New York? What of the New Yorkers who fought and are fighting the nation’s post 9/11 wars to keep New York City safe from another attack?
Cuomo also seems to forget the Democrats who fall under his label of extremist. State Senator Rubén Díaz for example, is a staunch critic of abortion, even comparing it to the Holocaust. Are the pro-choice Democrats and liberals who have expressed trepidation at the fact 40 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion also extremists?
And unless one accepts anything and everything associated with homosexuality, apparently Cuomo defines that as anti-gay. This slothful reasoning is equivalent to saying that because the governor pushed through legislation placing some new restrictions on firearms he is opposed to the U.S. Constitution in its entirety.
There are many liberals and Democrats in New York who are very much pro-Second Amendment, though few live in Manhattan. Years ago I spoke with an upstate Democratic Party official about his party’s stance on the Second Amendment. He was quite proud of a new rifle recently purchased, one that if not considered an “assault weapon” under the state’s recent ban it is because the people who wrote the law know very little about firearms. His response to a query of whether the Democratic Party was pushing to greatly restrict private firearms ownership was “Not on my watch!”
If being “pro-assault weapon” is not who New Yorkers are, Cuomo and his allies needed not push the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 through with so little public comment or consideration. Many Democrats and liberals see government in America becoming a danger to our civil liberties. There are many Democrats and liberals in New York who see the so-called assault weapons ban for what it is: an unnecessary limitation of individual liberty that will not save one life.
Cuomo’s comments show him for what he is and is not: A politician, not a leader. The SAFE Act can’t stop Cuomo from shooting his mouth off, which is our best defense against his political career going any further. ©
Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at http://www.betterfatthanfascist.com