Dear Bob.

A personal response to Council Member Robert Holden.

Dear Bob,

This is embarrassing to admit but when I was sent your quote in Politico’s story on NYC DSA I didnt remember who you were. Normally I wouldn’t be embarrassed about forgetting who a politician was because most politicians are uninteresting and not worth the space in my brain that could be dedicated to anything else. I try to remember the names of the people I admire. But I also try to remember the names of people who inspire disgust in the people I admire. When the guy who I watched knock 300 doors in one day while supervising others complains about someone, I listen. When the woman who always shows up to the action, and always makes sure 50 other people show up too, tells me someone is a problem, I want to keep that name in mind.

That is how I heard of you Bob. It should’ve sprung to my mind when I read your quote in the Politico story: “I guess they haven’t come in contact with criminals who must be locked up, or gang members who are committing heinous crimes.” It has a familiar tone of both delusion and fear. Delusion, in that people like Tiffany Cabán know more about people (yes they are people) who are criminalized than you ever will. Fear, in that you are so desperately hoping a real reckoning for you isn’t coming, and youthful naivety has simply caused a temporary lapse from your quaint reality. That we will eventually give into the fear of the Other, fear of criminals and gang members and the homeless and immigrants and so on, and take our sights off of you and the rest of the New York legislature.

It is getting harder and harder to keep your fear at bay I imagine. We have not gone away. We win. We stay on message. We are willing to play the long game in a political world increasingly shortsighted about the future. And what I should’ve remembered you from Bob, your magnum opus of the politics of fear, has not gone so well. Earlier this year, the Glendale shelter opened. Your City Council career has been built in fear of the least well off people in our society. I cannot think of anything more cowardly than having an existential fear of the homeless, nor of anything more shallow than riding that fear into office.

I have to recognize that your shameless fear mongering has been effective at winning votes. But it hasn’t been effective at stopping the Glendale shelter. Not before it was built, not with all your threats of lawsuits and other procedural attacks, not after it was built, and not even during a period of heightened fear due to a global pandemic. And it does make me wonder — does this guy even care? After all, if he actually stopped Glendale shelter, he couldn’t campaign on fear of it.

Which in turn makes me wonder — is DSA your new Glendale shelter Bob? Is DSA your latest boogeyman to drum up votes? I can’t speak for DSA, but personally I’m not opposed, I’m just curious. After all, your record with stopping Glendale shelter is the energy I hope you take to your fight against DSA. Every hero needs villains. And not all those villains can be serious threats like Donald Trump or Jeff Bezos — you got to have some comic relief, Jim Carrey as the Riddler type villains. Sure, the disgusting threats of arson and murder your followers made against homeless people for simply existing keeps me from ever looking at you as simply a joke. You have inspired people to do and say monstrous things. But it is hard to take your rallying cry for a caucus of moderates as anything but a joke, and it has been a hard week so I needed a laugh.

New York City is not a city of moderates. Queens is not a city of moderates. People here are tired of the politics of fear, especially those like you who use fear to obscure the City’s failure to protect its people from a deadly pandemic, racist police, and yes, the debilitating cycle of homelessness. What are you going to do Bob when we win a homes guarantee and there are no more homeless people for you to campaign on? I don’t like giving advice to enemies, but I will give you a tip — you better come up with something better than whining to the press.


Feminist socialist writer fighting for econ justice. Views do not represent my firm, DSA, or my cats, who are sadly both ultra leftists.