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UFT Unity Afraid to Condemn Mayor's Xenophobia
If Eric Adams says migrants will destroy city, they're good with that.
Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Adams got up in front of God and everybody and declared that newcomers would destroy New York City. I am a child of immigrants, as are most of us. My grandfather came here on a boat from Russia when he was 13 years old. I’ve no doubt he faced countless difficulties for being a newcomer.
I work with newcomers, and have done so for decades. Sometime in the 80s, after being excessed from JFK High School, I put on a suit, walked into every school in Queens, and asked dozens of supervisors to hire me. (I did this because when I went to the hiring hall, a secretary showed me a room full of tenured teachers, all of whom needed to be placed before I was.)
I ended up at Newtown High School. I was an English teacher, but they hired me to teach ESL. They gave me beginner classes. I LOVED teaching these kids. They fascinated me. They told me stories of coming here, escaping from really bad places, and shared with me their fears and joys of living in the United States.
When I was finally appointed to teach English, I turned down the appointment, joined the world’s worst Irish wedding band (which paid surprisingly well), and started taking classes in Queens College to become an ESL teacher. I decided I needed to learn another language too. It was only fair, if I was asking my students to do so. I took classes in Spanish and spent two summers in Mexico. I even got certified to teach Spanish.
I grew up the only Jewish kid in a Catholic neighborhood. I learned very young what bigotry was, the hard way, and I’ve despised it all my life. I now see politicians drumming up hatred against newcomers. It’s despicable.
I know why people come to this country. I’ve been face to face with kids telling me stories of family members murdered on the streets. I’ve had students with brain damage because gang members had beaten them so severely. I’ve also heard and seen enough to tell you that a lot of jobs migrants take are ones we would not take on a bet.
Errol Louis gives chapter and verse on what the mayor gets wrong. At most, this could be a few percentage points of our budget. Inconvenient, yes, but not city-ending. Worse than that, though, is the fact that the mayor is stoking hatred. There are plenty of media outlets blaming newcomers for everything under the sun.
Not only that, but there are politicians, just like the mayor, who score politicial points by stoking hatred. The governor of Texas is committing atrocities, DeSantis wants to shoot people he deems suspicious, and there are plenty of New Yorkers who would happily follow in their footsteps. That will be on Mayor Eric Adams.
It is beyond outrageous that a mayor of New York City would stand up and make statements, in a city built of immigrants, that promote hatred of immigrants. It behooves those of us who oppose bigotry and xenophobia to stand up.
Despite that, at Executive Board, UFT Unity deleted all mentions of the mayor from a resolution in support of migrant families. The full resolution, submitted by members of United for Change, is below. Evidently, even though Mayor Adams openly makes anti-immigrant statements, UFT-Unity is too fraidy-scared to call him out on it.
After all, Michael Mulgrew and every one of his cronies wants to help Mayor Adams diminish our health care. They want to cut in-service costs by 10% to create savings for the Mayor. They want to dump retirees into an inferior “Advantage” plan, and enrich CVS-Aetna at our expense.
Our leadership, in fact, is so in bed with the mayor that they don’t even want to call him out on this breach of fundamental decency. Opposition has no such qualms. That, among other reasons, is why we need to make sure they have a larger voice.
Unity has failed us. For them, a raise that lags well behind inflation is fine. For them, additional health care costs for less service is no problem. For them, making baseless, outrageously bigoted statements targeting the weakest among us poses no problem.
Let’s tell them otherwise. Let’s vote them the hell out of office, and replace them with people who work for us, instead of Eric frigging Adams.