Jumaane Williams and Dov Hikind

Jumaane Williams is fast on his way to becoming the Gerald Ford of New York City’s progressive Democrats, putting his foot in his mouth on one issue after another. Turns out he has some interesting views on abortion and same-sex marriage.

On abortion, he does the communitarian two-step that was so popular back in the 1990s:

I don’t know that the two choices [pro-life or pro-choice] I have accurately describe what I believe. You have to check off a box of pro-choice and you have to check off a box of pro-life and I don’t know that I’m comfortable in any of those boxes. I am personally not in favor of abortion.

But his big complaint is that men are being left out of the discussion and decision-making process. When a woman aborts her fetus without the knowledge or consent of the man who contributed his sperm, says Williams, “there is no space I think for fathers to express that kind of pain.”

Williams says this happened to him. A woman he was involved with terminated her pregnancy in the first or second month without his knowing it.

“It was just very painful. It’s still painful now,” he said, tearing up as he recalled learning about the abortion. “I have the clear image of the sonogram. I have the clear image of the doctor. I have the clear image of being in the room, hearing the doctor say, ‘Everything’s going along fine.'”

The story sounds a little fishy to me.  If the woman he’s talking about had the abortion in the first or second month of her pregnancy, would she have had a sonogram? And as for that “clear image: what could he possibly have seen? This?

Anyway, that’s Williams on abortion.

And here he is on same-sex marriage: “I personally believe the definition of marriage is between a male and a female.” Though he wants the state to get out of the business of marriage altogether.

Between his stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the BDS controversy, I’m beginning to think Williams has a lot more in common with Dov Hikind than I realized.


  1. Jason Lee December 6, 2013 at 11:28 am | #

    Other than the BDS thing nothing wrong with views on these issues. Abortion story may be fishy, but liberals completely misplay this issue and dominant liberal narratives and euphemisms prove unsatisfying even to most women and are unsurprisingly failing.

    His attitudes on gay marriage match Nancy Fraser. The state should not use marriage to confer certain rights which could be shared in a wide range of adult relationships. I could imagine two single heterosexual mothers or mother and daughter entering into a legal agreement with the same economic and legal protections of marriage. That would be a much better solution in context of sinking welfare state and more non traditional families.

    • Corey Robin December 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm | #

      “prove unsatisfying even to most women.” Do you have actual data on this?

      I didn’t see anything in his comments saying that the state should not use marriage to confer certain rights. He said the state should not be granting marriage licenses, but that is a very different argument. Also he affirms that marriage should be between a man and a woman, which is not the foundational commitment or basis of Fraser’s argument.

    • Donna Gratehouse (@DonnaDiva) December 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm | #

      “but liberals completely misplay this issue and dominant liberal narratives and euphemisms prove unsatisfying even to most women and are unsurprisingly failing.”

      What are your thoughts on abortion, Jason?

  2. Russell Scott Day December 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm | #

    It is not a pro abortion or anti abortion issue. It is a women’s rights issue. Women feel like they have the right to grow or not grow a human being inside their body. If it is murder it doesn’t really matter. War is legal under some circumstances. Like drug wars and other issues you don’t get to like everything.

  3. Ken Sherrill December 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm | #

    Richly deserved. The funny thing is that I remember being invited to a fundraiser for him that was sponsored by every west side progressive politician when he was first running in a primary for City Council. I guess no one asked him his positions on these issues. They must have assumed that since he was an economic progressive, he was with us on everything else.

  4. Roquentin December 7, 2013 at 6:13 am | #

    One of the things I realized after only after moving to NYC is that I often times have far more in common in terms of cultural heritage with the black community that I do with most white people. African Americans are the only demographic in the city which has Protestant Christianity as the predominant religion. This is a relic many of them retain from the South. It was the same religious/ethical milieu I was raised in, even if I am from the Upper Midwest. All the other major demographics in the city are either predominantly Catholic (Irish, Latino, and Italian) or Jewish. Where I’m going with this is that while most black people vote Democrat, it isn’t because of liberal social values. Many, maybe even most of them, have social positions which are much more in tune with the GOP. They don’t vote Republican for the simple reason that the GOP is not so subtly racist, to the point where you’d have to be deaf, dumb, and blind not to pick up on it.

    I wouldn’t call this “putting his foot in his mouth.” To me, he’s just trying to reconcile two completely incompatible sets of beliefs. Politics is very closely related to religion, and you have to take issues as a package deal. The people who make it seem like everyone carefully considers each issue and makes a rational choice based on the information at hand are completely off base. It’s all about joining a certain camp or tribe. Many of the issues so cherished by liberal white people are a very bitter pill to swallow for the black community.

  5. NotALiberal January 4, 2014 at 10:38 am | #

    If I may be permitted to speak (quite tardily I realize) in a register considered incredibly uncouth, not to mention anachronistic, by the contemporary standard-bearers of “intellectual discourse”, the intellectual petty bourgeoisie, I agree with Williams that the state should not be in the marriage business.

    My objection boils down to this: marriage is a profoundly reactionary social institution that has always been at the service of domination and, concomitantly, private property. Under capitalism marriage serves as an ideological linchpin for the reproduction of oppressive social relations, as under previous modes of production, but with a twist.

    The direct, transparent and brutal domination under feudal and slave society that is sanctified under the banner of tradition, is under capitalism mystified. This mystification, inherent in the commodity form itself, makes it incredibly difficult for people to not only recognize the real relations of bourgeois society on a purely analytic level but also, even after these relations have been understood, to act to change them given their unrelenting pull in the direction of comforting illusion. The opium, as Marx so profoundly theorized in his later writing, is not a mere ideological foreign body, but is rather generated in the very marrow — the commodity — of bourgeois society. Given this incredibly powerful force we are up against, anything which serves to make more difficult the task of demystification and fundamental transformation is, objectively (as we communists, to the horror of the liberals, like to say), wrong, backwards…reactionary.

    This is something that communists should proclaim openly and loudly against the inevitable calls by liberals and petty-bourgeois radicals to transform the institution of marriage into something “progressive”. The fact of the matter is that marriage under the bourgeois regime in an overall way bolsters the structural illusions generated by the capitalist system, sanctifies callous payment and, even worse, unpaid labor, under the tranquilizing rubric of love (which is not at all to discount real love, which is one of our greatest weapons, but rather to recognize how easily it is co-opted if its radical kernel is not extracted and nourished in the proper soil).

Leave a Reply