May 8, 2017

Brooklyn arsonist burns Jewish books in possible hate crime


Williamsburg and its eponymous bridge

It can happen here. And it does. Frighteningly close to home.

Last week, writes Adam Shrier for the New York Daily News, an arsonist broke into a Jewish school bus parked in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, home to a large Hasidic Jewish population. Entering through the emergency exit, he found religious books in the glove compartment and set the bus on fire. Luckily no one was on board, and no one nearby was hurt.

Though the man was filmed by a security camera, he remains unidentified and at large.

While police have not officially deemed the incident a hate crime, it can’t help but evoke two key tools of this era (and many others) in hate: book burning (sometimes very literal, sometimes (though very rarely) kind of fun, and most often less literal but done in the name of censorship) and antisemitism (always literal).

We should take these points very seriously in a moment where the government has done the equivalent of burning plenty of Jewish books and antisemitic graffiti is the top hate crime found in New York City subways. And we should also take care of each other.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.