Gov Cuomo on People Stuck in Abusive Households: Domestic Violence Is 'Very Bad,' But Shutdown Isn't Just About You


One of the great catch-22s during the coronavirus pandemic are spouses and children stuck in abusive households.

It’s a wretched situation, and one states need to do more to address. Once this is over, we’re going to have to deal with a legacy of sick relationships that are more difficult for those being abused and which, thanks to emotionally blackmail and gaslighting, will likely be more difficult for them to leave.

Also, while I’m not necessarily in favor of lockdown protests that don’t involve social distancing or utilizing cars to make their point without creating a risk of infection, I’m also not in favor of governors pushing their citizens to the point where protest becomes inevitable due to entirely superfluous, petty and ineffectual lockdown policies. (See: Whitmer, Gretchen.)

Expecting your constituents to obey policies enacted on whims as opposed to evidence — particularly when those policies are imposed with a shrug — is basically the recipe for turning the public view of lockdowns away from seeing them as a necessary expedient to limit the spread of the coronavirus and toward lockdowns being seen as the kind of petty, superfluous and dangerous regulatory regime that not only invites protests but makes them necessary.

All of which is to say that Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York could go from the hero of lockdown — both for his fellow Democrats and to Republicans willing to put aside party grudges — to the poster child of how it all went wrong.

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On Wednesday, Cuomo lashed out at lockdown protesters and the idea that stay-at-home orders were a cure worse than the disease, telling reporters that “economic hardship doesn’t equal death.”

“You want to go to work? Go take a job as an essential worker,” he said.

“Economic hardship, yes, very bad,” Cuomo said. “Not death.”

The idea that “economic hardship” doesn’t equal death when it can potentially lead to higher incidence of heart disease, depression and suicide is dubious, especially when you consider a Lancet study said the Great Recession led to 500,000 cancer deaths alone.

Fine, though, let’s take that bit of Cuomo’s tough talk at face value. That wasn’t my issue with Wednesday’s press conference. It was arrogant and misinformed, but not dangerous, per se.

The next part was, though:

“Economic hardship — yes, very bad — not death. Emotional stress, from being locked in a house — very bad, not death. Domestic violence on the increase? Very bad, not death. And not death of someone else,” Cuomo said.

“See, that’s what we have to factor into this equation. Yeah, it’s your life, do whatever you want. But you’re now responsible for my life. You have a responsibility to me. It’s not just about you.”

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Yeah, it’s your life, being a victim of domestic violence. Don’t burden him with it, though.

And it got worse:

“We started here saying, ‘it’s not about me, it’s about we,’ get your head around the ‘we’ concept. So it’s not just all about you. It’s about me too, it’s about we,” he explained. “ . . . And think about it as if, it was your family that might get infected, right? And that’s what we’re talking about. And when you think about it as your family, you have a different perspective.”

It’s about “we,” domestic violence victims. There’s no “I” in “we,” after all. You’re not people in his family, either, so don’t endanger their lives. Hey, can we get Chris Cuomo on Zoom to talk about that coronavirus-induced dream he had about his brother in a ballet outfit? Bet that’ll make you think twice about endangering his life.

I’m not entirely sure what the governor’s “it’s all about we” ramble was supposed to say.

Is Cuomo admitting his state’s police and domestic violence shelters can’t deal with the uptick in abuse so, hey, you’re on your own? Shouldn’t this be a priority given what he admits is an uptick in domestic violence?

Did he not realize that, when he said “Domestic violence on the increase? Very bad, not death,” that he was profoundly wrong about that death part, considering how often domestic violence does, in fact, end in the death of the abused?

But perhaps most disturbingly, did he not realize — if he believes that protests cause coronavirus infections — that this is the kind of talk that infuriates Americans and makes more protests inevitable?

It’s not just economic hardship that sparks demonstrations. If it were, every state in the nation would be protesting. It’s not even those superfluous, petty, overly restrictive lockdown measures we’ve mentioned before.

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Rather, it’s the profound arrogance of state officials who believe their job is to be confrontational jerks under the misapprehension this will prevent Americans from violating their states’ lockdowns.

You don’t like the lockdowns? Tough cookies, Gov. Cuomo seems to be saying (although I doubt he’s using the word “cookies” in his mind).

Unlike Gov. Whitmer in Michigan — whose “let them eat gardening equipment” messaging for her new lockdown order was as much responsible for the protests at the state capital as the more restrictive lockdown order itself — Gov. Cuomo isn’t stopping at petty regulations. Instead, he’s telling victims of domestic violence to “suck it up, buttercup.” I’m sure abused wives love hearing that.

Now, did he actually mean that as it sounded? I can only assume that’s a no because I can’t picture leaders who are that sickeningly uncaring whose surnames aren’t, say, Maduro, Putin or Bolsinaro.

However, that is how it sounded, and when Cuomo’s primary job in these daily coronavirus media filibusters is to manage how he sounds, he’s responsible for the Bolsinaro-esque tone of this remark — and, by extension, making the protesters outside the Albany state capital Wednesday look entirely justified.

To New York domestic abuse victims: The Empire State has a slew of domestic violence hotlines, all of which have workers trained to make sure your abuser doesn’t know you’re on the phone with them if you call. I beseech you, click on this link and use them.

Do not take your governor’s profoundly irresponsible advice. It could, quite literally, end in your death.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture