BY CHARLES OTEY
Irrational ‘defund the police’ campaign confounded by bias of Fox and the tweeter-in-chief
As Election Day approaches, it’s really confusing here in Bay Ridge, just like the rest of the nation. But for those of us who live here and count among our close friends folks of every political stripe, it’s personal. A lot of stuff is happening.
For instance, a relative few out there are urging to “defund the police.” They want to punish the good cops for the acts of some bad cops. Ridiculous! These crazy campaigns against all cops actually help create the atmosphere in which the bad Minnesota cop who killed George Floyd seemed to assume he would get away with murder.
Then we have an untoward situation wherein right-minded Black Lives Matter marchers were misled into confronting a peaceful Blue Lives Matter contingent.
Chaos. Confusion. Bay Ridge became the accidental center of a growing national crisis. Fox News exalted in the carefully selected videos depicting residents here as angry white folks at war with Antifa.
Standing alone in the reporting on this untoward incident was the Home Reporter’s own Jaime DeJesus, whose objective coverage of this tumultuous event actually presented points of view from the left, center and the right (yes, Gerard Kassar, a Blue Lives Matter guy, told his side).
Unfortunately, that singular story stands alone. TV cameras and cell phones sought out isolated violent incidents, which were caused in large part by infiltrating Antifa-types, and depicted only the worst of the entire event.
Antifa doesn’t really deserve to be called a group or an organization. Essentially, all it has is a name and an obsession with obstructing peaceful demonstrations and making sure their ill deeds wrongfully dominate much of the misinformation that has permeated our lives today.
How do we remain friends with our friends after Election Day?
At a distance, Bay Ridge may seem like any other community to newcomers, irresponsible invaders or BLM marchers. But it’s a unique place, largely due to the nonpartisan endeavors of those who have led and pitched in to have it designated as one of the leading volunteer neighborhoods in the city.
Thousands turn out for cleanups, parades and Halloween celebrations. Our treasured Ragamuffin Parade survived and thrived for more than half a century until it was stymied by this damned pandemic. And it will return next October because it’s embedded in the community’s collective spirit.
Of course, the most sensible way to treat true friends is to avoid politics as a discussion topic. There has never been more division in a national election. We’ve never been more divided and depressed about America than we are now.
Unlike the racist thugs at Charlottesville, there are “good people” on both sides. President Donald Trump supporters I know — and who are longtime friends — don’t back the KKK or anti-Semitic erstwhile Nazis marching with flaming torches.
Why should we hold our tongues, or at least temper our tone, when it seems so important to speak up and champion the obvious truth? Well, the obvious truth no longer seems so obvious. Why? It is this veteran writer’s contention that our communication chaos has two major identifiable causes. If you don’t want to hear this lecture, please stop reading now!
Fox News and internet breed and capitalize on lies
First, President Trump — the greatest divider in our history — would never have become president if it weren’t for Twitter, where lies go to grow. Second, Fox News is where post-truth is reaped, bringing a harvest of hundreds of millions in profits.
Trump voters have a lot to complain about. The Rust Belt, where I come from, has been “screwed, blued and tattooed” to employ a phrase we used in Weirton, West Virginia. Trump says the dirty deed (China and India killing steel mills and coal mines) is to be blamed on Democrats, who failed to pass tarriffs that at least would have enabled those industries to stretch out long enough to die a respectable death.
How long? At least several more years, during which federal subsidies would ensure pensions and benefits of retirees and retraining programs for those displaced by technology.
Wall Street is neither Republican nor Democrat. So when Weirton Steel, which once employed 15,000 people — including every adult in my family as well as my mother, who finished cannon shells during World War II — was “sold out” along with US Steel, Bethlehem Steel and others, it was because of the crusade for greater corporate profits.
They sought and created a class of stockholders whose names are invoked as an excuse to destroy manufacturing and eliminate millions of jobs that used to serve as a ladder to moving up to our vaunted middle class.
Fox News, to its shame, has enabled Trump and his minions to deceive Americans into thinking that the deadly pandemic will disappear. In normal (pre-internet and pre-Putin) times, any president who dared utter such nonsense — just a sample of what he twitter dumps on a daily basis — would have been disowned and dismissed by his party, in this case the Republicans.
Case in point: Richard Nixon.
But Washington Republicans like the spineless Sen. Lindsey Graham, who labeled Trump a racist, idiot and bigot before he became a malicious, infantile wielder of White House power, now bows pathetically and in shame in thrall to a morally challenged executive in chief who can erase a Republican senator’s political status almost instantly by tweeting and calling in Rush Limbaugh!
Trump supporters deserve to be heard — especially when he loses
The other day, while talking with a highly respected, affable physician, I learned he was going to vote for Trump. His reasoning was sound, if, in my opinion, somewhat biased: Democrats had failed to protect the working class and seemed more supportive of minorities than the middle class. They were, in his opinion, as corrupt as any Republicans.
We agreed in part, especially regarding Hillary Clinton, who represented all that is wrong with the pay-to-play politics threatening our democracy. She took $650,000 for a private speech given at a major financial firm’s luncheon and refused to disclose what promises she had made to the select assemblage of insiders.
As to Democrats favoring minorities, the party was justly motivated in attempting to ameliorate three centuries of discrimination, which continues insidiously. But those being punished were by and large lower-middle-class white folks. And, as ironies abound, please keep in mind that one of the greatest Republicans of the 20th century was a beneficiary of affirmative action: Secretary of State General Colin Powell.
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PERSONAL POSTSCRIPT: Those of us who regard Facebook (as currently constituted) as a necessary and unavoidable evil seldom seek controversy there, but I couldn’t resist commenting when I read in Conservative Kassar’s column that Democrat U.S. Rep. Max Rose appeared to boycott the Dyker Heights Civic Association’s well-regarded political debate, apparently because the association’s president is Conservative Kings County Chair Fran Vella-Marrone.
Vella-Marrone has been an active leader in just about every positive community effort during the past 25 years. Rose got bad advice, I believe, from his mentors, who didn’t want him to take his message before those who would probably disagree with him.
Rose, whose race with former Republican-Conservative Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis is regarded, as of this writing, as too close to call, impresses as a tough, outspoken guy who doesn’t fear opposition and needs to embrace Trump-leaning voters to win on Nov. 3. Hopefully, he’s cleared the record on this controversial decision well before the election.
Had his people done their homework, Rose could have greeted the Dyker gathering by noting, “I’m proud to be here in the neighborhood where Dr. Tony Fauci worked as a young man at his dad’s pharmacy on 13th Avenue. His courage and talent speak so well for this community during a time when he is the leading expert in the war to combat this dreaded and persistent pandemic! I suggest Dr. Fauci be nominated for — and win — the Nobel Peace Prize for giving Americans and especially Dyker Heights residents the tactical and medical weapons we need to defeat this terrible disease!”