Elected officials in southern Brooklyn are putting The New York Times on notice.
At issue is an article about insurance fraud in Russian-speaking communities of Brooklyn where a law-enforcement official was quoted saying, “This is the Russian mind-set, and this is why it’s endemic in the system …. If you’re not scamming the system, if you’re not scamming the government, you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing — you’re looked upon as a patsy.”
Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz organized an event over the weekend against the Times piece and had the harshest words for the publication in a statement released this afternoon.
“The New York Times’ decision to print such an insulting depiction of an entire ethnic community is offensive, dangerous and could not be any further from the truth as today’s gathering of honest, hardworking Russian-speaking Americans proves,” he said. “Allowing such a blatantly biased article accusing an entire Russian-American community of criminal behavior sends the wrong message and has the potential to do irreparable damage to the reputations of all the hard working, law abiding Russian-speaking American residents of this community.”
Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, a Russian immigrant himself, contended, “[I]t is because of these types of comments that stereotypes against our community grow strength and are propelled on and on; it is all one extremely vicious cycle that needs to stop.”
From a political angle, Mr. Cymbrowitz, who had a tough reelection bid against an opponent who spent only $600 in 2010, needs to solidify his position in his district’s large Russian-American community. His seat is at the heart of Republicans David Storobin and Bob Turner’s surprisingly strong special election showings in 2012 and 2011 and is undoubtedly on the target list of the Brooklyn GOP this year.