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OPINION: Stop Charles Barron, now

By The New York Observer

The prospect of Charles Barron on Capitol Hill ought to send a shiver down the spine of every decent New Yorker. The man is a hater and a bigot whose only redeeming quality is his candor: The man makes no attempt to hide his loathing of white people, Israel, his colleagues and anybody else who doesn’t share his demented views.

Mr. Barron currently is a member of the City Council, where his despicable rhetoric, we are happy to note, has had no visible impact on public policy and civic life. Yes, he embarrassed the city a decade ago when he escorted Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, a serial violator of human rights, into the Council chambers and proclaimed him to be a “bold African man willing to stand up to the world for his people.” But that episode did no permanent damage to the city’s reputation—indeed, it gave New Yorkers a wonderful opportunity to show their contempt for Mr. Mugabe. Mr. Barron, on the other hand, was exposed as a vicious hatemonger.

Mr. Barron’s time in the Council is drawing to a close, thanks to term limits. But he may not be done. Mr. Barron is running for Congress in the Brooklyn district currently represented by Edolphus Towns, who is retiring. With less than a week before the Democratic primary, Mr. Barron is thought to be in a close battle with Hakeem S. Jeffries, who is seeking promotion from the state Assembly.

To their ever-lasting disgrace, Mr. Towns and the city’s largest public-employee union, District Council 37, have endorsed Mr. Barron. That’s why many observers fear that Mr. Barron might well capture the nomination, which is tantamount to victory in heavily Democratic Brooklyn, next Tuesday.

One person could stand in the way of Mr. Barron’s ambitions. President Obama can and should intervene on behalf of Mr. Jeffries. The president doesn’t have to say a word about Mr. Barron, a fellow Democrat, although it would be nice if he called out the councilman for his horrendous rhetoric. A presidential endorsement of Mr. Jeffries certainly would be a blow for the haters, racial arsonists, and refugees from the 1960s who support Mr. Barron’s candidacy.

The district’s registered Democrats will, of course, have the final say. But the party’s leaders at the local and the federal level ought to make it clear that Mr. Barron will be a pariah if he is dispatched to Washington — if a portion of the district’s voters are looking to send some kind of message to the establishment, well, they’ve rallied behind a flawed messenger.

If Mr. Barron wins, he will have a national forum for his hate-filled rants. To be sure, he will be incapable of turning his views into legislation, but still — he will have greater access to the media and a bigger audience for his insulting rhetoric.

And here’s the worst part: He’ll be identified as a Democrat from New York.

Is that what Democrats want? Is that what New York deserves?

Those are questions Mr. Obama should ponder in the next few days.

Excerpted from the NY Observer editorial posted on Wednesday

June 21, 2012 - 7:14am


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