There’s been a lot of controversy over something called the “Knock Out Game” in which young attackers punch people in the face with no obvious motive or reason. Some (mostly right wing) outlets are warning about a national epidemic of hate crimes, some (mostly left wing) sites have been calling it much ado about nothing and relegating the story to the category of “urban myth.”
In the latest twist, Laurie Cumbo, a newly elected member of the NY City Council from Brooklyn (who is African-American) has released an open letter, which you can read on her Facebook page, in which she says that these attacks (NY police are investigating a number of incidents) near Crown Heights may be the fault of local Jewish residents.
At the meeting, I shared that many African American/Caribbean residents expressed a genuine concern that as the Jewish community continues to grow, they would be pushed out by their Jewish landlords or by Jewish families looking to purchase homes. I relayed these sentiments at the forum not as an insult to the Jewish community, but rather to offer possible insight as to how young African American/Caribbean teens could conceivably commit a “hate crime” against a community that they know very little about.
Like many well meaning people before her, Cumbo seems to have put her foot in her mouth when discussing delicate issues relating to culture and race. She seems to be sincere in wanting to enhance the dialog between the communities, and appears to be going through a learning process about how to do that.
But also, it would appear that if African American politicians are trying to explain the phenomenon, it’s time to accept the obvious truth that while the “Knock Out Game” is not exactly sweeping the country, it is not all myth, that hate crimes no know color and that young louts of every hue are capable of ugly acts of violence against innocent people. There is never a good reason or an excuse for violence in the name of race hate or religious bigotry.