New York Post:
Bill de Blasio calls Brazil’s president a ‘dangerous human being’
Mayor de Blasio is calling on the American Museum of Natural History to cancel an event where the guest of honor is far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
“I believe in the First Amendment,” the mayor said on WNYC radio on Friday but then added: “If you’re talking about a publicly supported institution and you’re talking about someone who’s doing something tangibly destructive, I’m uncomfortable with it.”
De Blasio pointed to Bolsonaro’s plans to develop the Amazon, which he warned could endanger the planet, as well as his “overt racism” and “homophobia.”
“This guy is a very dangerous human being,” the mayor concluded. “I would certainly urge the museum not to allow him to be hosted there.”
The museum received $8.6 million in city funding last year and sits on prime public land on Central Park West.
To boost its bottom line, the museum rents its unique spaces for events — and the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce reserved May 14 for its annual gala honoring a “person of the year,”
Reps for the business group did not return calls seeking comment about the sudden controversy.
But a press release for its gala notes that Bolsonaro won 57 million votes in October 2018 and praises his work on public safety and the rights of military veterans.
The museum initially said it didn’t know Bolosanaro was being feted when the rental deal was made.
“We are deeply concerned and we are exploring our options,” the museum tweeted Thursday night.
But by Friday it was in defense mode.
“This is an external, private event that does not in any way reflect the museum’s position that there is an urgent need to conserve the Amazon rainforest,” a spokesperson said, without explaining if the museum would pull the plug on the event.
Despite the mayor’s comment, the Department of Cultural Affairs said the city has no role in the controversy.
“The city does not review or approve independent decisions regarding short-term rentals at private, nonprofit cultural institutions,” a spokesperson said.