This Editorial Board, often unimpressed by the management chops of the de Blasio administration, hopes for big things from the first executive director of a new City Hall office. She is Deborah Lauter, and she’s taking the helm of the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes at a time when those stains on the spirit of the city are surging.
At a time when overall crime in the five boroughs continues to trend down, offenses targeting people on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation are up a sickening 41% so far this year, with anti-Semitic incidents representing the lion’s share of those crimes.
Into the breach steps Lauter. Leading an office with a small budget, she will not do the vital job of the NYPD, which is to catch the idiots and ingrates who throw paving stones at rabbis, scrawl swastikas on synagogue doors and set gay pride flags aflame.
Rather, the former high-ranking Anti-Defamation League official will coordinate approaches across multiple agencies to eradicate the virus, and encourage victims to come forward and, hardest but most essential of all, engage with effective community groups to poison the roots of bigoted thinking.
Don’t expect immediate dividends. No public service campaign or church sermon will magically convince a Jew-hater to set down his spray-paint can or fists. But persistent, creative engagement from the top can make an even more welcoming melting pot, mosaic, or pick your other metaphor.
Lauter has already corrected the boss on one crucial point. De Blasio stupidly said in June that “the ideological movement that is anti-Semitic is the right-wing movement,” ignoring the upsurge in Brooklyn, among other places. Lauter acknowledges that ideologically motivated hate comes from all across the spectrum.
Great good luck to her in slaying the dragons.