Those who disagree with governor are still New Yorkers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo went too far recently when he slammed “these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay,” adding, “They have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

Actually, that is how many New Yorkers are. For instance, a public opinion poll conducted a year ago revealed 79 percent of Empire State residents did not favor liberalizing abortion laws, which is part of Gov. Cuomo’s agenda.

Of respondents to a nationwide Gallup poll in 2012, 50 percent described themselves as pro-life, with only 41 percent saying they were pro-choice.

The governor was being an extremist himself in making these comments Jan. 17 on Susan Arbetter’s “Capitol Pressroom” radio show. Rather than being a diverse state, he suggested, New York is a monoculture where millions of people who hold certain, very common opinions are not tolerated.

He was very wrong. The framers of the U.S. Constitution would have been shocked. Just because we disagree on political and social issues doesn’t mean we can’t live together.

But he was right about one thing: Clearly, extremism is a problem in New York.

As Enterprise readers may remember, we have written editorials in the past supporting gay marriage and doubting the necessity of assault weapons. Those views haven’t changed, but we would never tell those who disagree with us that “they have no place” in our town or state. They’re our neighbors, family members, friends, etc., and we respect their humanity much more than we care about their politics.

Anyone can let an unguarded thought slip. We don’t expect people who object to abortion or gun control or gay marriage are going to leave New York just because of this stray comment, and we don’t expect Gov. Cuomo is about to bring in the Thought Police to kick those who disagree with him out of the state. If he apologizes – and he should – this comment can be forgiven, even if it continues to irk some New Yorkers for some time.