Take It or Leave It, Mark Green

Brooklyn Assemblyman Roger Green’s Challenge to a Turncoat Liberal

Roger Green argues that "there is no evidence" that Ferrer made the comparison. "[M]any African-American and Latino voters have concluded that your statement was a calculated attack that was intended to reinforce the cynical manipulation of a New York Times editorial that inferred that Mr. Ferrer was 'borderline irresponsible' for having the temerity to suggest that some areas outside of the financial district should serve as host for the recovery effort," the assemblyman writes. "The unintended consequence of this demagogic tactic extends beyond the arena of electoral politics and public policy. I believe your statement, taken in context with your negative advertisements, raises some serious questions about your commitment to social solidarity. By driving a calculated wedge between the surviving families of the World Trade Center [disaster] and the Happy Land fire, you unwittingly devalued those human lives touched by these tragedies and enthroned a mean-spirited moral relativism."

What impact might such a message have on whites? "I . . . fear that this misguided attack may give some the impression that suffering associated with a tragedy, which occurred in a borough that is predominated by African-Americans and Latinos, can be marginalized and dismissed for the sake of one's political ambition," Green notes. In Mark Green's desperation to win, the assemblyman charges, he ignored "the historic importance" of Ferrer's campaign to African Americans and Latinos.

"By engaging in an orchestrated attack on Mr. Ferrer's competence, your campaign stimulated fear among some white voters who still harbor doubts about the leadership skills of African American and Latino elected officials," Green states. "In addition, your condescending criticisms and negative advertisements [about] Mr. Ferrer betrayed the aspirations and ideals of a growing African-American and Latino electorate which has supported your numerous elections, including [to] the Office of Public Advocate. Be advised that most Latino and African-American voters viewed these attacks as a disrespectful condemnation of our collective character."

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Mark Green's campaign was his "repeated attacks" on Ferrer's "Two New Yorks" theme, Roger Green points out.

"As an elected official who has had the opportunity to work with you toward the identification and resolution of problems facing 'the other New York,' I believe your attacks were divisive and disingenuous," Green writes. "Your numerous publications, including reports issued by your office that have underscored the abuse and mistreatment of New Yorkers [by] the city's police department, provide overwhelming proof that there are communities throughout this city who have been deprived of basic justice and have suffered from economic and social isolation."

In the letter, Green, who is chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Children and Families, cites "empirical evidence" that there are two New Yorks: "By the end of 2001, New York City will have an additional 32,000 children designated as orphans because of the HIV/AIDS crisis. More than 89% of these children are African-American and Latino children."

Because of Mark Green's credentials as an outspoken liberal, black politicians like Roger Green had "assumed" that the wannabe mayor would "align [himself] with Mr. Ferrer's theme, which sought to eliminate those fissures that have created the reality of two New Yorks." As Green explains it, "We had some expectation that your self-avowed progressive identity would have inspired you to express political solidarity concerning those divisions that exist in this city." That would have been the right thing for the Great White Hope to do. But he did nothing.

"Many members of the Latino and African-American community believe that you and other leaders of the Democratic Party, who profess to be 'progressive,' have a moral responsibility to articulate the differences that surround the lives of those children born and raised in the South Bronx as compared to the lives of children born and raised in the Yorkville and Turtle Bay neighborhoods of the Upper East Side of Manhattan," Green maintains. "When you charged that Mr. Ferrer was being 'divisive' for truthfully articulating the unfortunate class and racial differences that continue to trouble this city, you squandered an ideal opportunity to build a coalition of conscience across racial and ethnic lines that might address those pressing issues facing future generations and the next mayor of our city."


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