When pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol in an effort to halt the counting of electoral college votes, the icons of hate included racist, anti-Semitic symbols. There was a man in a black hoodie featuring a skull and crossbones—the Auschwitz slogan “work brings freedom,” emblazoned underneath. Another rioter flew the symbol of the Confederate South in the halls of the Senate, the blue “X” crying out for a resurgence of exclusionary governance.
And just two days later, that mixture of white supremacy — directed at two historically marginalized groups — reared its head in New York City when a Confederate flag was discovered on the door of The Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan.
An aggravated harassment complaint has been filed, but no arrests have been made, according to police.
Lawmakers and city officials reacted with an unequivocal denunciation of the incident and its broader undercurrents.
“Hate has no place in our city,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney at an event in front of the museum days after the flag was removed. She was joined by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senators Brad Holyman and Brian Kavanagh along with State Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou.
In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has “ZERO tolerance for acts of fascism and bigotry.”
“There will be consequences for those responsible,” De Blasio added.
“Repulsive Symbol of Hate”
The city will receive assistance from Governor Andrew Cuomo. He directed the New York Police Hate Crimes Task Force to offer assistance in the investigation.
“The Confederate flag is a repulsive symbol of hate, and I am disgusted by reports that someone attempted to intimidate our Jewish neighbors by tying one to the door of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City,” Cuomo wrote in a statement.
He added: “As we saw earlier this week when hate-filled mobs stormed our nation’s Capital, violent white supremacists have been emboldened by Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric — but we will not let them succeed. In New York, we will always defend against crimes that target New Yorkers for who they are or what they believe.”
For one city official, the incident — quite literally — hit close to home. Elyse Buxbaum, wife of New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott M. Stringer, works at the museum.
“White supremacy is poisonous. We saw it in the nation’s capital this week and we’re seeing it in our city today. My wife ... works at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. This is an attack on our community. Those responsible must be brought to justice,” Stringer wrote on Twitter.
Jack Kliger, president and CEO of the museum called the incident “an atrocious attack on our community and institution.”
“Hate has now arrived on our doorstep, just steps away from a train car which once transported Jews to the Auschwitz death camp,” Kliger wrote in a public statement. “These horrific acts of emboldened anti-Semitism must end now.”
But, according to experts, there is no sign that they will. In a report over the weekend in the New York Times, Lindsay Schubiner, a program director at the Western States Center focused on countering white nationalism, said that without a major disruption, she expects the extremist groups to remain a risk to public safety and to the nation’s democracy for years to come. “This isn’t something that can be put back in the bottle — at least not quickly or easily,” Ms. Schubiner told the Times.