The Unelectable Joe Mascia

If you’re most people, you never heard of Joe Mascia before this past week. He’s a nothing; a nobody. 

He’s a failure. 

Mascia is running to represent the Fillmore District on the Buffalo Common Council. He’s running with the blessing of the Conservative fusion Party, but Mascia is an unendorsed Democrat who also filed petitions for that line. David Franczyk is the incumbent. Mascia resides in the Marine Drive housing project, which is a waterfront blight whose tenants’ association was

…discriminating against minorities who applied to move in and giving special preference to government employees and people with political connections.

“It was publicly subsidized segregation,” said Scott Gehl, executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, a not-for-profit group that fights housing discrimination in Buffalo. “A lot of the older tenants say things were wonderful in the good old days, but it was a segregated place for people who were blessed with political connections.”

A federal investigation and legal action that HOME filed in 2002 led to a federal judge ordering the tenants’ association to revise its rental policies and give minorities a better chance to move to Marine Drive.

Simultaneously with Mascia’s 2014 conviction for election law violations, he was elected to his fifth term as the tenants’ representative on the board of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority – an agency that offers public housing to the poor in a city with a property vacancy crisis, an urban prairie, and a land-banking program. Although the BMHA owns the Marine Drive complex, it is privately managed

Mascia is only nominally a Democrat. His 2011 race for county legislature was partly funded by contributions from LLCs owned by Carl “Damn Asians” Paladino. In his 2012 run for state Assembly, he received $4,800 from Carl Paladino’sTurning Albany Upside Down” (2nd entry, 3rd entry, 4th entrytea party PAC and $1,666 from Paladino personally. (Query what sort of political committee this is, given that it’s not only contributing to candidates, but also evidently making expenditures on someone’s behalf). At least one of his reporting periods ended up in the red – a huge no-no. By 2012, his campaign war-chest had debt of over $10,000, which rose to $15,000, and was being charged overdraft fees (and here). As of the July 2015 disclosure, Mascia’s campaign account is still over $9,000 in debt

Mascia’s city council run has only the July 2015 disclosure on file, and it reports $500 from Paladino’s PAC, and $239 on-hand

Last week, a recording surfaced where Mascia repeatedly referred to local African-American elected officials as “fucking niggers”. Under no circumstances is a person who harbors such thoughts and utters those words fit for public office. In a normal world, Mascia would have resigned his BMHA seat by now and withdrawn from whatever political campaign he’s engaged in. In a normal world, Mascia would be radioactive. 

Even Hulk Hogan and the WWE know this. 

This isn’t the normal world, though.  This is Buffalo, and Mascia apologized but also made excuses – he’s never used those words before, he was recorded without permission, others are racist, too. It’s beyond unseemly. 

On Friday, Mascia called in to the Sandy Beach show on WBEN. To his credit, Beach treated Mascia with the contempt he deserves. 

It was an astonishing phone call; extraordinary to witness and observe racist old Buffalo taking its dying breaths. Beach called Mascia a “blight”, and said that, “you’re a liar, phony, hypocrite…you’re the perfect candidate for WNY.” Beach said the person who recorded Mascia’s racism, “did the public a service”. Mascia spent time making excuses and calling this a set-up before Beach said, “don’t you have any decency?” At one point, Mascia accused Mayor Brown of using the “same explicative” against white developers building on the east side. He didn’t; he expressed frustration at the lack of African-American developers working in that area. 

Perhaps most hilariously in his ill-fated call to Beach, Mascia attempted to pivot his way into victimhood by paraphrasing this quote from Goodfellas : “If you’re part of a crew, nobody ever tells you that they’re going to kill you, doesn’t happen that way. There weren’t any arguments or curses like in the movies. See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who’ve cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you’re at your weakest and most in need of their help.”

Mascia wasn’t at his weakest – he was quite aggressively challenging David Franczyk. He was funded by a wealthy benefactor. 

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner demanded on Friday that Mascia withdraw from the race for the Fillmore District. Conservative fusion Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo expressed dismay, but never demanded Mascia withdraw. That particular point is moot, as the Board of Elections rejected Mascia’s Conservative petitions.  Mascia’s campaign manager, Katrinna Martin, quit over the weekend, and urged Mascia to abandon the race, as well. For his part, Mascia doesn’t get it. He says that it’s a set-up, and his online mouthpiece is now accusing former County Executive Joel Giambra of organizing an anti-Mascia “conspiracy”. 

So what if it was a set-up? Mascia obviously takes umbrage at the fact that he was recorded without his knowledge – something permitted in New York. He is clearly upset that he was set up by someone he considered to be a trusted friend. It’s also evident from the tape itself that the guy making the recording was baiting Mascia, bringing up certain non-white people and asking Mascia, “what is he?.”

The problem isn’t whether Mascia was set up. It frankly doesn’t matter; there are thousands of things Mascia could have said to insult Byron Brown or Darius Pridgen when prompted. Had he just called them a name or some expletive, it wouldn’t have amounted to much at all. Instead, Mascia called them “fucking niggers”, and called someone else a “camel jockey”. It’s not a crime to be profane or obnoxious or hateful or even a racist. Mascia is free to sit in his house and blurt out whatever hateful stuff he can muster to whomever will tolerate it. 

But Mascia is an elected official, and running for a further elected office. Not just any elected office – but one to represent a predominately African-American constituency. I have no doubt that Mascia’s expression of racist hatred has led many to make calls of support to him. But his attitude toweards African-Americans in Buffalo isn’t the only thing that disqualifies him from public office. 

Mascia pleaded guilty to serious criminal violations of New York State Election Law – a wholesale failure to disclose how he funded his campaigns. Court records also reveal Mascia’s $307.877.64 in unpaid liens, judgments, and debts over a forty year period. Mascia could have been talking about himself when he cynically declared that, “crime has gone too pervasive,” at a public rally on May 23rd. He also ironically – brazenly – said that he is running “against corruption.” The record shows that corruption is his milieu. 

Mascia’s conviction for election law violations were so brazen that he’s lucky to not be in jail. But beyond this, Mascia has a longstanding documented history as a notorious deadbeat.  Court records show that Mascia, his failed companies, and immediate family members, engaged in a decades-long swindle against honest vendors and creditors. Yet, the 70 year-old Masica, lives in public housing and drives around in a new Cadillac when he should be paying back all those he knowingly and deliberately swindled. Indeed, Mascia’s own mother secured a money judgment against him in 1999. 

Mascia says he’ll deliver “concrete results” for the Fillmore District. Mascia should know what he’s talking about: his failed concrete companies, Mascia Concrete Co. and Lor-Sam concrete company defaulted on tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Mascia even stiffed his workers, and was successfully sued by the New York Department of Labor over and over again. That’s bad enough, but he and his companies have sixteen tax warrants and judgments totaling tens of thousands of dollars by the New York State Department of Taxes and Finances and United States Federal Tax Department.

Crooks like to play the victim. That’s why Mascia shed crocodile tears in a published report saying he went into debt because of a traffic accident in the mid-1990’s. Yet how does that explain Mascia’s pattern of willful, staggering debt and swindles decades before the alleged accident? And how does it justify twenty years of more debt after he’s seen laying more concrete masquerading as community activist? 

State Judgments against Mascia include:  

  • New York State Division of Labor, Unemployment Division vs. Joseph A. Mascia – $4,495.57 judgement against Mascia (6/11/97)
  • New York State Department of Labor, Unemployment Division vs. Joseph A. Mascia – $301.04 judgement against Mascia (7/15/97)
  • New York State Department of Labor vs. Joseph A. Mascia dba Mascia Concrete – $16,019.60 judgement against Mascia (10/5/98)
  • New York State Department of Labor vs. Joseph Mascia $4,903.60 against Mascia (1/12/99)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph A. Mascia dba Mascia Concrete $2,310.94 tax judgement against Mascia (4/28/99)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph Mascia $8,880.19 tax judgement against Mascia (6/21/00)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph Mascia $559.76 tax judgement against Mascia (12/16/02)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine  Mascia $96.00 tax judgement against Mascia (1/14/04)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,062.47 tax judgement against Mascia (2/24/04)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $2,229.50 tax judgement against Mascia (2/10/05)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,648.38 tax judgement against Mascia (12/05/05)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,654.36 tax judgement against Mascia (1/05/07)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,045.74 tax judgement against Mascia (9/28/07)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,204.88 tax judgement against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia (6/29/09)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $1,712.66 tax judgement against Mascia (3/22/10)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $898.92 tax judgement against Mascia (9/21/10)
  • New York State Department of Taxation and Finance vs. Joseph A. and Lorraine Mascia $258.04 tax judgement against Mascia (1/9/13)

Federal Tax Liens against Mascia include: 

  • United States Federal Tax Lien against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia – $19,787.83 (6/4/04)
  • United States Federal Tax Lien against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia $12,441.15 (9/13/05)
  • United States Federal Tax Lien Against Joseph A. Mascia – $1,400.40 (8/16/06)
  • United Stated Federal Tax Lien Against Joseph and Lorraine Mascia – $562.13 (5/4/10)

State Board of Elections judgments and fines include: 

  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia, candidate, $1,070.50 (6/4/13)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia – $1,070.50 (6/14/15)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia – $1,070.50 (6/27/13)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Joseph A. Mascia -$1,070.50 (9/12/13)
  • New York State Board of Elections judgment against Jospeh A. Mascia – $1,070.50 (10/3/13)

Other actions against Mascia include, 

  • Federal National Mortgage Association vs. Lorraine Mascia foreclosure on $50,000 loan for 109 Greenwood, Buffalo, N.Y. (8/20/98)
  • Allan Murray vs. Jospeh and Lorraine Mascia $410.00 judgment against Mascia (5/16/96)
  • The Kiesten Corporation vs. Mascia Concrete $14,399.52 judgment against Mascia (1/29/99)
  • Katherine Mascia vs. Joseph A. Mascia  $462.90 judgment against Mascia (7/9/99)
  • Fast Track Structures vs. Mascia Concrete $1,328.09 judgment against Mascia (5/28/00)
  • Fast Track Structures vs. Mascia Concrete $18,030.05 judgment against Mascia (8/07/06)
  • Napeir Fitzgerald and Kilroy vs. Jospeh and Lorraine Mascia $49,688.61 judgment against Mascia (2/22/08)
  • Great Lakes Concrete vs. Jospeh Mascia $778.08 against Mascia (12/08/09)
  • The Buffalo News vs. Joseph Mascia $4,131.14 against Mascia (4/9/12)
  • Samantha Mascia (residing with Joseph and Lorraine Mascia; namesake for another of Mascia’s failed concrete companies, Lor-Sam) $97,997.30 bankruptcy

So, the base racism is merely the icing on the cake of Mascia’s unfitness for public office and electability. Serious questions ought to be directed to anyone for their political or financial support of this hypocritical malefactor. It’s Buffalo, after all, and this sort of vocalized racial animus is succor to myriad people who feel economically left behind, or are otherwise socially, politically, or economically stunted. Of course Mascia should drop out of the race. The things he said were so profoundly racist that there was really no chance for him to salvage this already ill-fated run. 

Slowly, and at long last, our world is changing. After 150 years, the confederate battle flag has finally earned its place as little more than a symbol for little more than genocidal race-hate. The small-minded Jimmy Griffin Buffalo is dying in fits and starts, no matter how many rallies people hold for themselves, how many excuses people make for their racism, and no matter how many others in town share these backward views. 

The Buffalo Tea Party on “Race”

Not that angry, not that mobby - Flickr - Photo Sharing! 2015-07-01 07-11-40

In the wake of the vicious, racially motivated mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, we have seen quite a spectacle—even longtime conservative supporters of the treasonous Confederate Flag have denounced it. Only the far fringes of the racialist right-wing movement have made excuses for what the shooter did, and why he did it.

Have you heard people accuse the shooter of being a “leftist“? White supremacy is an ultra-right-wing mindset because it takes something healthy, like patriotism or nationalism, and contorts it into hatredoften genocidal or nihilist. Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin were communists, but they weren’t nationalists. On the contrary, their ultra-left-wing ideology called for an international revolution of the proletariat in order to bring about what they perceived to be a just economic order.

By contrast, fascists such as Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler took some of the bits of Marxism—that the rights of the individual must be subsumed by the needs of the collective (in Marx’s view, that collective had to do with class—in fascism, it was the “nation” or the “fatherland” or the “volk”). Fascism was a corporatist system that also incorporated some form of ultra-nationalist xenophobia and hatred—national supremacy. Hitler’s Naziism was the purest and most evil distillation of that.

On the political spectrum, Naziism and fascism are ultra-right-wing, while communism is ultra-left-wing. After all, the fascists did to capitalism what they did to nationalism, and contorted it into something evil. Their only common threads were violence, dictatorship, and totalitarianism.

Therefore, when we are discussing ultra-nationalist white supremacists here in the US, not only do the true believers like this kid who shot up the Charleston church self-identify as hard right, but that’s just where it sits on the spectrum. Ultimately, ultra-nationalist, white supremacist, nativist thought is a perversion of conservatism itself. They take the notion of maintaining the status quo and distort it into spreading hatred of some “other”—usually a historically oppressed or powerless minority that can easily be demonized. In Germany, they perverted their nationalism into a virulent and genocidal hatred of Jews, Roma, Slavs, etc. In Serbia a hatred of Croats, and vice-versa. In Russia, a hatred of the West.

I’m not suggesting that the shooter was a Republican—just that he was a neo-Confederate ultra-right-wing genocidal monster.

No reasonable person on the left wants the Confederate flag banned because you can’t ban it—it’s political speech. It would be stupid to try, as the 1st Amendment protects the rights of people to be neo-Confederate racists and fly that flag.

Pointing out that someone made up Clinton/Gore badges with the battle flag on it back in 1992? We don’t know that it was sanctioned by the campaign, but if people are pointing out that the Clinton’s tolerance of that flag is different now than it was 30 years ago. That’s great! We should encourage people to assess the facts and alter their opinions accordingly. I’ll note that Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham supported that flag flying on State grounds two weeks ago, and have recently changed their minds. Good for them.

I’ll note that, as far as I’m concerned, anyone who voices support for that flag or its continued flight over any state property anywhere—and that includes several state flags of Southern states—is voicing support for slavery, sedition, treason, and white supremacy. You can shout “heritage” all you want, but the heritage that flag represents is one of genocidal racism.

So it should come as a shock that a local leader of the tea party—a supporter and lackey of Carl Paladino and a vicious, unprincipled liaraffirms some of the hatred that the Charleston mass-murderer Dylann Roof espoused.

In a speech that she delivered—as a Grand Island resident, taxpayer, and voter—to the Buffalo Board of Education (on which Paladino sits), she said this:

Quoting a rather insightful comment from Dylann Storm Roof, the extremely disturbed young man who killed church members in Charleston last week, he said “Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average don’t think about race in their daily lives.”  He apparently tragically felt that needed to change, presumably in response to the violent race riots of late and the astonishing calls for violence against all Whites.

Holy. Shit.

Now, you can allege that I took this out of context. Here’s what preceded it:

I am personally very disturbed by the demand for a black superintendent.  Imagine the outrage if some were to insist upon only a white superintendent. Apparently, the reasoning being “No one can understand the needs of our children like a black person can.”  What, black children are different than white children?  How so?  Are they less capable?  Not as intelligent?  Does poverty affect their ability to learn?  I can tell you from experience, with proper structure and support, it doesn’t.  We believe the answer is NO, children do not have special needs based on the color of their skin, and children in Buffalo Public Schools do not belong to the black community alone.  We ALL care deeply about raising the level of achievement and providing a better future for ALL children stuck in failing schools.  To think otherwise is not logical.

So, within the context of some members of the Buffalo schools community preferring an African-American Buffalo schools superintendent, a Grand Island interloper wants the school board to know that racist mass murderer Dylann Roof made an “insightful” observation in his own semi-literate “Mein Kampf”.

The difference, in case it needs to be repeated, is that white people used to own black people, and that history of institutional, legal white supremacy and racism remains baked into our body politic. Yes, poverty does affect kids’ ability to learn, and countless scientific studies confirm that fact. From this article,

  • Children living in poverty have a higher number of absenteeism or leave school all together because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members.
  • Dropout rates of 16 to 24-years-old students who come from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes.
  • A higher percentage of young adults (31%) without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to the 24% of young people who finished high school.
  • 40% of children living in poverty aren’t prepared for primary schooling.
  • Children that live below the poverty line are 1.3 times more likely to have developmental delays or learning disabilities than those who don’t live in poverty.
  • By the end of the 4th grade, African-American, Hispanic and low-income students are already 2 years behind grade level. By the time they reach the 12th grade they are 4 years behind.
  • In 2013, the dropout rate for students in the nation was at 8% for African American youth, 7% for Hispanic youth, and 4% for Asian youth, which are all higher than the dropout rate for Caucasian youth (4%).
  • Less than 30% of students in the bottom quarter of incomes enroll in a 4 year school. Among that group – less than 50% graduate.

So it’s not a question of lack of capability, but it’s untrue to suggest that poor inner-city minority kids are coming from the same environment as white kids from well-to-do homes. The schools aren’t necessarily failing because of the teachers or the curriculum or the superintendent—you have to attack systemic racism and the plague of poverty.

But this isn’t a course in sociology or neuropsychology, so let’s re-examine this amazing statement:

Quoting a rather insightful comment from Dylann Storm Roof, the extremely disturbed young man who killed church members in Charleston last week, he said “Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average don’t think about race in their daily lives.”  He apparently tragically felt that needed to change, presumably in response to the violent race riots of late and the astonishing calls for violence against all Whites.

No. Nothing about “Dylann Storm Roof” (and I question why the author used his full name here) is “insightful”. He was a homicidal maniac, and a neo-Confederate white supremacist, at that. In his mind, he was fighting for that racial collective of supposedly oppressed white folks, and used his words about racial awareness in an effort to spark a race war. To the extent that “black people are racially aware almost from birth”, that’s because being black in America is different from being white in America. The buzzword nowadays is “white privilege”, and it’s simply outrageous for some middle-class white woman from a tony suburb to come to Buffalo to lecture black people on their behavior and mentality.

What the author is doing is not only excusing Roof’s actions, but endorsing his thoughts and words. She agrees with his motive—to her, it makes sense what Roof does because of “race riots”, presumably the anti-police-brutality demonstrations in Ferguson and Baltimore, and she even manufactures some sort of “calls for violence against all Whites”.  I’m not saying some irresponsible protesters didn’t say such things, but that sort of inciteful language is no more outrageous than, for instance, a positive endorsement of the race hate manifesto of a mass murderer.

This is like your old German uncle reminding you that Hitler fixed the economy and saved Germany.

She concludes,

PLEASE stop telling our children from the time they are young that they are going to be treated differently simply because of their skin color.  PLEASE stop focusing on skin color and start focusing on the need to achieve.  Continuing this multi-generational failure is simply not an option anymore.

A black child in Buffalo’s inner city doesn’t need to be told that he’ll be treated differently because of his race. As a black person in America, she’ll live it almost every day. She’ll be faced with signs of white supremacy and racism every day—whether it’s overt or closeted; shouted with a Hitlergruß, or spat in whispers. Whether it’s being racially profiled as a shoplifter in a store, pulled over while driving prudently through Kenmore, or listening to the misguided and tone-deaf condescending speeches from white suburban tea party loons, a black person’s racial identity and self-awareness isn’t something that he has some responsibility to tone down; it’s not a disease, but a symptom of a wider, more pervasive disease.

The disease is white supremacy and racism, and no approving recitation of a mass murderer’s Buffalo News comment posing as a “manifesto” is “insightful” enough to quote, or to change that.

Quoting approvingly from a murderer’s regurgitation of a white nationalist hate group’s ideology isn’t the way forward for poor black kids in failing schools.

Buffalo Hate Radio Trollbaits Race and South Carolina



It took a heartless massacre to finally convince even some Southern conservatives that the Confederate flag doesn’t deserve state sanction, and should be sent from state grounds to a museum somewhere. This article nicely sums up the sordid factual history of the flag in question,

…history is clear: There is no revolutionary cause associated with the flag, other than the right for Southern states to determine how best to subjugate black people and to perpetuate slavery.

First sewn in 1861 — there were about 120 created for the war — the flag was flown by the cavalry of P.G.T. Beauregard, the Confederacy’s first duly appointed general, after he took Manassas, Virginia, in the first Battle of Bull Run…

…But never did the flag represent some amorphous concept of Southern heritage, or Southern pride, or a legacy that somehow includes everything good anyone ever did south of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery excluded…

…In 1948, Strom Thurmond’s States’ Rights Party adopted the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia as a symbol of defiance against the federal government. What precisely required such defiance? The president’s powers to enforce civil rights laws in the South, as represented by the Democratic Party’s somewhat progressive platform on civil rights.

Georgia adopted its version of the flag design in 1956 to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling against segregated schools, in Brown v. Board of Education.

The flag first flew over the state capitol in South Carolina in 1962, a year after George Wallace raised it over the grounds of the legislature in Alabama, quite specifically to link more aggressive efforts to integrate the South with the trigger of secession 100 years before — namely, the storming of occupied Fort Sumter by federal troops. Fort Sumter, you might recall, is located at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

Opposition to civil rights legislation, to integration, to miscegenation, to social equality for black people — these are the major plot points that make up the flag’s recent history. Not Vietnam. Not opposition to Northern culture or values. Not tourism. Not ObamaCare. Not anything else.

That’s it. It wasn’t until the middle of the last century that this battle flag became a potent symbol – not of Southern heritage, but of opposition to civil rights for black people; it wasn’t until the federal push to ensure civil rights for Southern blacks during the 1950s and 1960s that this flag flew to protect white supremacy and the supposed right of Southern whites to continue to subjugate black people.

Any bleating about “history” and “pride” and “heritage” you see or hear online, in print, or on AM hate radio is a manufactured lie. It is false – that flag represents white supremacy and treason in the long view, and more recently, opposition to equality and civil rights in the short.

But if you’re a hate radio station, nothing is too low. For WBEN, the station of old, white omniphobes, the push to relegate the flag of sedition to museums is a perfect opportunity to bait that audience, and that audience doesn’t disappoint.

During the 24-hour period of Monday through Tuesday, it posted several things to Facebook with respect to the Confederate battle flag.

and this,

and this,

Now, let’s look at the comments, because Buffalo.

And this, because why the hell not?

More comments you say?

Reducing a symbol of treason, white supremacy, and slavery to clickbait/trollbait is what Buffalo’s hate radio station is good at – riling up the same omniphobes who think Carl Paladino is right on.

Here’s what the President said, as described at Talking Points Memo:

During an interview on the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron,” Obama argued that while America has made some advancement in terms of race relations, “What is also true is the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. We’re not cured of it.”

Obama added, “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.”

Yeah. He used the word “nigger”, echoing in large part a description of the Republican “Southern Strategy” as described in the early 80s by campaign strategist Lee Atwater,

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Here’s Wednesday’s “online poll”:

This Confederate battle flag – and every other symbol of the Confederacy – should not be given any state sanction. It is a symbol of hatred, ownership of people as chattel, and white supremacy. The only “heritage” it celebrates is has to do with the ownership and subjugation of black Americans.

The 1st Amendment allows local malcontents to wave that flag all they want. It does not require state or municipal governments to sanction it, nor does it require that Wal*Mart or Amazon sell it.


UB’s International Students


Via Wonkblog

Via Wonkblog

Yesterday saw something unprecedented happen. Carl Paladino apologized.

As originally reported in the Olean paper, Paladino appeared at something of a failure of a tea party rally over the weekend, and said hateful and ignorant things about Asian students at UB.

On Monday, Paladino said the point he wanted to make at the rally is that out-of-state students – whether foreign-born or not – are taking advantage of New York’s heavily subsidized university system at the cost of taxpayers. Since the state – via taxpayers – heavily contributes to its university system, the tuition for out-of-state residents is far lower than the actual cost to educate them, Paladino says.

“I don’t think that’s fair to taxpayers,” Paladino said Monday. “Even nonresident tuition is highly subsidized tuition. I was pointing out deeper problems that are not otherwise being expressed.”

UB boasts – BOASTS – about 5,000 international students. 99.2% of them attend UB on an F-1 student visa. While in-state students pay a tuition of just over $6,000 per year, international students pay close to $20,000 to attend UB.  Before obtaining an F-1 visa, the student must have already applied – and been accepted – to a school that is certified under the Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).  In order to obtain an F-1 visa, the applicant must prove that he does not intend to abandon his foreign residency. As such, it is impossible for the holder of an F-1 visa to claim domicile in New York State in order to reap the benefits of a subsidized in-state SUNY tuition.

Paladino said he does not take issue with the fact that foreign students attend UB, but thinks their education should not be subsidized by taxpayers. He said he selected Asians as an example of out-of-state students because it is easy to assume they are not from the area, an assumption for which he apologized.

“I apologize to all Asians for the coarseness of my remark and selecting them as my example,” he said. “That wasn’t the point I was trying to make.”

“Easy to assume they are not from the area” – here’s a case of an apology being pretty much as bad as the original insult. The International Institute’s Eva Hassett explains, “Immigrants, refugees, international students, foreign born professionals are are critical to the region’s economic growth. International students in particular are more likely than native born students to study in STEM fields, which relate highly to making the investments in the BNMC, Solar City, etc turn into jobs. Lots of cities get this. What they also get is that communities need to be ‘welcoming’ to the foreign born, or none of their other strategies work. Being inclusive and tolerant is a great base for an economic development strategy. Not to mention making it a nicer place to live.”

Paladino isn’t the disease, but merely a symptom of longstanding, ingrained xenophobia and ignorant animus plaguing western New York. Look no further than the absolutely disgusting, desperate clinging to a racist team name going on in Lancaster. Imagine people willing to turn their backs on the student who designed the new Lancaster mascot, or yelling “Heil Hitler” at the school superintendent. Lancaster isn’t the disease – it’s also a symptom.

We seem to have this mentality that it’s not our own fault that the region doesn’t – or we individually don’t – advance. Don’t blame the easily identifiable Asians or brown people or black people, western New York. “Stop being a bigot” may just be the key to regional and personal advancement.

One Lancaster

The controversy over Lancaster High School’s anachronistic, racist “Redskins” mascot was resolved by unanimous vote of that district’s school board. There was some outcry and protestation, and two of the most vocal opponents of the change were elected to the school board last week. The students, for their part, are in the process of selecting a new mascot via plebiscite.

It’s sort of how the world is supposed to work – controversy arises, a decision is made, the decision has consequences, the community moves forward, end of story.

One might say, “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”.

Indeed, someone did, in the Lancaster High School’s yearbook, and that page enabled race-baiting radio station, the voice of threatened white Buffalo WBEN to gain just a few precious extra minutes of a controversy that ended long ago.

A yearbook is generally assembled and written by students, who are overseen by faculty advisors. It’s their project, and is intended to, among other things, memorialize big events that happened during the preceding school year. It’s not a stretch to suggest that the mascot flap was a big deal and deserved some sort of mention in the yearbook. As long as a yearbook entry isn’t palpably obscene, profane, or otherwise objectionable, there would be no reason for something the students picked to be omitted.

The page has offended some of the more delicate residents of Lancaster because its heading is, “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”.  This breach of political correctness has Lancaster residents threatening violence.

One caller to WBEN’s Tom Bauerle called it a joke. “If my kid brought that book home, I’d take it up to (that school) and bash it over the adviser’s head. That’s what every parent should do,” says that caller.

Another caller says whoever wrote the headline wanted to divide the community again.

“The taxpayers and the students are owed an explanation, and should get the name of the person responsible for this,” says Debbie. “I don’t know what’s on the backside of the page, but if it’s something owners of the yearbook can live without, take that page, rip and out and leave it in the superintendent’s office.”

I mean, that seems reasonable. You’re so incensed by the abandonment of a racist team mascot that being reminded of it causes you to threaten violence – and the radio station re-publishes your threat on its website.

If you read the text of the offending yearbook page (seriously – re-read that – adults are whining to a radio station about a yearbook page) it’s promoting the Lancaster Educational and Alumni Fund (LEAF) and its efforts to combat the notion that Lancaster is a town divided over a mascot. Hopefully because of how childish and ridululous the preceding sentence sounds. As to the offending “cookie” crumble, one woman commenting on Facebook noted that,

School board had nothing to do with the “One Lancaster” shirt. It was created by a few well-meaning teachers (actually in favor of keeping the Redskins name) in an attempt to preserve the enthusiastic spirit and camaraderie for which their school had always been known. The “cookie crumbling,” while perhaps a poor choice of wording given the emotions surrounding this issue, was part of an overall yearbook “menu” theme. Not well thought out? Perhaps. “Slap in the face” intentions? Very doubtful. A little digging into the back story may have prevented another round of getting people on both sides riled up.

Tom Bauerle said it was a big “f u” to the “taxpayers” of Lancaster. Not so fast, I guess, since “taxpayers” aren’t the intended audience for a yearbook, and because it was simply a tongue-in-cheek continuation of the publication’s “menu” meme.

The bottom line is this. The people in Lancaster who supported keeping the racist mascot name denounced their opponents for being overly sensitive, politically correct, or worse. Yet they have a full-blown local media hissy fit over the use of the phrase, “that’s how the cookie crumbles”? You can’t have it both ways and denounce what you consider to be others’ hypersensitivity while being hypersensitive yourself. But as one of Lancaster’s new school board members says,

Some nominal adults in Lancaster – and at the local “newsradio” station – have some growing up to do.

Dobosiewicz Suspended, Issues Non-Apology

apologyOn Wednesday, The Public exposed a set of Tweets that “Airborne” Eddy Dobosiewicz published Tuesday night. In commenting on the riots and demonstrations in Baltimore, Dobosiewicz referred to human beings of whom he disapproves as “animals”, and used an image of baboons climbing all over a car to illustrate his point. When you conduct a Google image search of the picture he used, this comes up:

In order to illustrate some point he wanted to make about predominately African-American demonstrators, he used an image of a British drive-through safari park.

The Buffalo News reports that WKBW and WBBZ both suspended Dobosiewicz due to his online outbursts, which he has at long last deleted. The News‘s Tim O’Shei spoke with Dobosiewicz, and it’s important to analyze what he has to say for himself.

“My intent,” he said, “was to speak to humanity and say, ‘People, let’s act like humans.’ I was trying to shed a light on man’s inhumanity to man, not on a particular race of people.”

At the time, Dobosiewicz had a beginner’s 150 Twitter followers, so for him to suggest that he was speaking “to humanity” is somewhat of a stretch. Illustrating the “evils of man” by depicting black people as monkeys or apes seems also to be ridiculous.

“I’m a comic. … I say things in a sarcastic way and I suppose things got taken out of context, but believe me, my intention was not to offend any one particular group of humans,” he said. “My intent was to kind of jolt everybody into reality. We’re doing bad things out there, folks, and the world is spiraling out of control.”

Comics are supposed to be funny. But beyond that, there was nothing sarcastic about what Dobosiewicz wrote—it was just mean and racist. The part that’s truly outrageous, though, is the notion that “things got taken out of context”. Nothing could be further from the truth—if you go back and look at the original post that brought this all to light, it includes a verbatim reproduction of the entire Twitter exchange that Dobosiewicz held with multiple people on the subject. The entire context was there—it’s just that Dobosiewicz was insistent on insulting his critics and doubling down on his dubious “point”.

Who’s looking, by the way, for “Airborne Eddy” to “jolt everbody into reality”? Again—150 followers and he’s got scary-important opinions about how “the world is spiraling out of control”? If you’re a comic—write something funny. If you’re trying to be a pop sociologist, write something intelligent. If you’re a hateful and unthoughtful hack, post a pictures of monkeys to depict black rioters.

On Tuesday, he said, a longtime colleague, who is a comedian currently working in Baltimore, posted a photo of another comic who was caught in the riots. “He posted this picture of this guy in a hospital bed with his face all bloodied and bandaged, a neck brace on, eyes swollen shut,” Dobosiewicz said. “It was horrific.”

Though he acknowledged that “in hindsight, I should have kept my mouth shut,” he made his initial tweet, then after seeing the criticism, changed the picture and eventually deleted the post.

Which comic is this who was hurt in the riots? Why didn’t Dobosiewicz repost the image as part of his commentary on the subject? Is that the “context” about which he’s complaining? But remember, too, how Dobosiewicz claimed he didn’t delete the original picture because it was so palpably racist, but because it was too “playful”?

He knows full well what he did, and the “playful” excuse was a lie.

“Regretfully, I wasn’t clear in the message I was trying to get across and it came across as racist,” Dobosiewicz said. “Anyone who knows me knows I’m not racist.”

It came across as racist becuase it was racist. Actually, I received several messages from people who have had extensive dealings with Dobosiewicz on east side projects and told me quite the opposite. One East Side activist, who asked to remain anonymous, said,

…it is a well known fact that Airborne Eddy has done nothing to help the east side but find ways to line his pockets. From endorsement deals with Sobieski Vodka, to his property he purchased 5-6 yrs ago in the Fillmore district claiming he was going to reopen it (former tavern, never happened), to his money-making tours.

I could go on and on here. I just wanted to Thank you for calling him on his latest round of bullshit. My children, all highly educated, employed with not even a parking violation, have to deal with people like this, and it makes me sick.

It’s the monetization and privatization of nostalgia. In response to my quip that Dobosiewicz had destroyed his reputation, one person wrote,

He did not destroy his reputation. He just gave it a more public outing.

Another posted the original article to Facebook with this,

During my first year at the Terminal I tried to work with him but just couldn’t—there was that certain ambiguity that finally revealed itself back then and now, today… Re: Dyngus Day—I always wondered how one could celebrate a heritage of abandonment with rampant drunkenness and total disregard for the people who live there now. Yeah, i said it…

People beg to differ about, “everyone who knows me”. Also,

Dobosiewicz pointed out that his office is on the East Side, “the area of the city that has the most African-Americans. They’re all over the place. They’re my neighbors. I’ve lived next door to an interracial couple for 30 years.

“They’re all over the place”. 

“Anyone who knows me – my friends, my family, people that I’ve worked with – they’re absolutely clear that there’s not a racist cell in my body. For someone to take things out of context simply for the attention that has been garnered by this thing, it’s regretful. I truly regret causing any upset to anyone, but that was not my intention. My intention was to shine a light on what craziness is out there in the world.”

No. You don’t get to say you “regret” something while quite literally in the next breath accusing me of taking, “things out of context simply for the attention that has been garnered by this thing”. Yes, I brought attention to his racist Tweet, but not for my sake. Like Eddy says, he makes his living in a black neighborhood. The racist imagery he used to condemn black rioters is his fault—not anyone else’s. Indeed, people pointed out that it was racist and he attacked them on Twitter. He mansplained and whitesplained his way through the evening, and the Public‘s article didn’t appear until 12 hours later—plenty of time for his head to cool and for him to think and retract.

But in the end, the best he could do is the standard, passive-aggressive, sorry-if-you-were-offended non-apology apology. As to his future at WBBZ and WKBW,

“I would hope it’s an open question,” he said. “I would hope that cool heads and common sense prevail. I don’t know that yet.”

Based on the reaction from some that I saw all over the internet yesterday, I’m sure a great many Buffalonians share Dobosiewicz’s attitudes and opinions, and there’s no question that he will find a happy home at some media outlet somewhere. There’s some rank ignorance out there. If we don’t confront it, what good are we?

Airborne Eddy Has Opinions About Baltimore

“Airborne” Eddy Dobosiewicz is one of those generally benign, uncontroversial Buffalo celebrities. Most people who know of him, know him to be a keeper of what’s left of the East Side Polonia flame. He organizes Dyngus Day festivities, is involved with the Broadway Market, and on Twitter calls himself a “Jocular jokester, reflective raconteur, purveyor of the ages”. In other words, he is a peddler of nostalgia—distributor of a Buffalo that long ago moved to Cheektowaga or Lancaster or Charlotte. Especially when black people moved to the East Side and Polish people began to move out.

Dobosiewicz is the “co-founder of Dyngus Day Buffalo and president of Dyngus Day LLC”. He is a mogul in the local nostalgia industry, which is far more powerful and influential than racial harmony or social justice. Dyngus Day and its parade, in particular, have become uniquely Buffalonian expressions of nostalgia; it’s Polish St. Patrick’s day, where red replaces green and the hijinks are fueled with Tyskie instead of Guinness. It’s also something of a spectacle to watch a people and a heritage return to the neighborhood they abandoned and fled long ago—replaced by new people and a different heritage—and overrun it with binge-drinking and everything that goes along with it. This article is a nice recap of the trouble with Dyngus Day.

At what point does your ethnicity relinquish claim to an area that it no longer inhabits? Why does this white ethnic group feel entitled to waltz into someone else’s backyard for a celebration?

Exactly. You should see the comments rolling into it now that it’s been brought to people’s attention—the author tells me it’s like “white person reactions to being accused of racism bingo“.  There’s a fine line between celebrating heritage and treating a neighborhood like a safari park as tour guides tell you what used to be here or there, while you’re comfortably pedaling your bike or sitting in an open-air bus. Airborne Eddy is the guide of guides; the mother of all local nostalgia moguls.

Right now in Baltimore, there are demonstrations taking place, protesting the homicide of a black man while in police custody. The vast—overwhelming—majority of protests have been peaceful. A small number of people have resorted to violence, looting, assaults, and other crimes. Civil unrest is a police matter—it’s neither unexpected nor especially rare. The trap you can fall into, though, is projecting all of the telegenic violence onto the entire demonstration as a whole, and then casually dehumanizing and delegitimizing the underlying, valid grievances. Freddie Gray didn’t die—the police killed him.

People have a right to protest. People have a right to be angry. People have a right to be loud. It’s also shocking how much empathy people have for buildings and glass and TVs and things than they do for the life of Freddie Gray. I’m not justifying violence, looting, or crime—I’m saying that Freddie Gray was the straw that broke that particular camel’s back.

Back here in Buffalo, where Spring has sprung and the hibernation has ended, there’s been a lot of whitesplaining and hand-wringing in local media over what’s happening in Baltimore.

Apropos of nothing, Airborne Eddy—a Polish guy who promotes Polonia nostalgia in a predominately black community—decided to casually dehumanize the protesters in Baltimore. He derided them as “animals” and accompanied his original tweet with an image of what appear to be baboons climbing all over a small hatchback, like in a safari park.

That was jaw-dropping, and by the time the Tweet was brought to my attention, Dobosiewicz had deleted it and replaced it with the same verbiage but an image of wild dogs feasting on a dead carcass. On Twitter, people wanted to know if Eddy deleted the Tweet because he realized how racist and offensive it was. Instead, he doubled down and made a mockery of himself in the process. The protesters in Baltimore are overwhelmingly African-American. The image of black people as monkeys is as offensive as it gets—the “coon caricature” that came out of the antebellum South to justify slavery and reinforce the notion that blacks are inferior to whites and, in point of fact, not even human, but apes.

This is how a reputation self-destructs. This is how the champion of white nostalgia in a black neighborhood takes himself down.

On Ignorance


The Lancaster school board voted last night to end the use of its team mascot name, effective immediately.

No more Lancaster Dumbpolaks. No more Lancaster Ginzos. No more Lancaster Moneylenders. No more Lancaster Bogtrotters or Krauts or Coloreds. No more Lancaster Redskins.

Lancaster’s school board is to be commended for quickly and unanimously ending a simmering, pointless controversy over something as trivial as a team mascot. It was astonishing to watch news coverage of this event and see myriad older and middle-aged Caucasians donning the mantle of oppressed minority over this mascot issue. If you’re 50+ years old, and your high school’s mascot remains something so critically important to you that you would protest, curse, turn your back, or threaten the lives of the members of the Lancaster school board, then your life is in desperate need of a rethink.

I laid out my argument for changing the mascot name in this piece. There is no way anyone can look at the blatantly racist name “Redskins” and declare it to be what one Twitter user called a “positive racial slur” worth keeping. If any of the slurs I used above made you uncomfortable, “Redskins” should do the same.

It was also another reminder of just how utterly disgusting, ignorant, and racist WBEN has become, as a media entity. This rests squarely on the shoulders of operations manager Tim Wenger, who also runs WBEN’s social media accounts. WBEN is now openly pandering to the worst, most profane, ignorant suburban racism. No fewer than eight (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight) separate Redskins-related posts were made to WBEN’s Facebook page in the 24-hour period of March 16 – 17, and you can imagine the comments on what is, on a normal day, like digital flypaper for WNY’s dumbest bigots.

The unifying meme that so aggrieves WNY’s Suburbanite Caucasus seems to be “political correctness”. But within the context of these sorts of racial controversies, “political correctness” is shorthand for “why can’t I be a hateful bigot anymore?” Although “political correctness” and “PC” are now perceived negatively, within their definition is the radical notion that people should not deliberately be horrible to one another.

The over-reaction to Lancaster’s decision to no longer use a racial slur as a team name has come to this:

Some loudmouth with no ties to Lancaster – who went to High School in Massachusetts and lives on Grand Island – is so incensed at another town’s decision to no longer defame American Indians that he hopes the town votes down the school budget and punishes the students. I mean, why not burn the whole town down, while you’re at it? That would be just as reasonable a reaction as the one Carl Paladino’s driver suggests here. It simply doesn’t get any stupider than this.

A quick scan of the comments that follow the Facebook posts linked-to above contains a fatal overdose of benighted, pretend-offended white people. WBEN was so intent on feeding the racist suburban call-in beast that it pre-empted Hannity to keep f*cking that chicken all night.

I have to try and be optimistic, and hope that the vast majority of Lancaster residents didn’t much care what the school board did with the team name. I have to figure that the silent majority of people who either agreed that the “Redskin” name was offensive, or didn’t much care, won’t do something stupid like throw away their kids’ education over this. I have to assume that the students are going to be smart and creative about coming up with a new team name that will let Lancaster be just as proud as it was as “Redskins”. Because it wasn’t the team name or mascot that generated any past glories, it was the hard work of dedicated students and coaches. Changing the team name is a win:win, because it abandons racial animus and does nothing to erase any pride people should have in whatever their high school triumphs may have been.

I don’t quite understand why ending racist slurs in school settings is considered to be “political correctness” and, thus, a negative thing. Perhaps western New York has a dramatically long way to go with respect to race relations and mutual respect.

The Lancaster school board should be commended for its brave, unanimous decision to cast racism aside. The problem remains that it shouldn’t have to be a “brave” thing to do, and I suspect the death threats have already started coming in.

Perhaps the best comment I saw on WBEN’s Facebook posts was this one, because it was as pointed as it was funny.

All These Racists

FRAT (1)

It’s 2015.

Last week at a commemoration of the march on Selma, President Obama said,

We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, or that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past fifty years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or L.A. of the Fifties. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress — our progress — would be to rob us of our own agency; our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.

Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that racism is banished, that the work that drew men and women to Selma is complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes. We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true. We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much.

Look at Ferguson, Missouri. The Michael Brown shooting did a great job in dividing Americans along racial and partisan lines. The Justice Department investigated and issued a report on the city. While it found that there was no utterance of “hands up, don’t shoot”, and cleared Darren Brown of any wrongdoing, there were bigger, structural, endemic racial animus and discrimination in Ferguson that went far beyond one tragic episode on a city street.

Anyone with even a passing interest in the notion of justice should be appalled at what was going on in Ferguson, Missouri.

As it turns out, Ferguson was a shakedown racket. The conservative response to this governmental overreach, incidentally, is anemic. If the issue had to do with, say, the ability to buy a particular type of bullet that can pierce body armor, conservatives would be screaming bloody murder about Obama’s totalitarian dictatorship. But when an investigation reveals that a city had devolved into a corrupt, oppressive banana republic, there’s almost complete silence. Either you believe in your central political ethos, or you’re a disingenuous liar. Or worse.

Because Ferguson is run like a white mafia that exploited its largely Black citizenry with petty harassment and excessive fines for things like jaywalking and parking violations. It is a domestic kleptocracy. If you wonder why its citizens might have erupted in violence and anger in response to the Michael Brown shooting, consider that these people were being treated by their government as an occupied colony.

Ferguson officials repeatedly behaved as if their priority is not improving public safety or protecting the rights of residents, but maximizing the revenue that flows into city coffers, sometimes going so far as to anticipate decreasing sales tax revenues and urging the police force to make up for the shortfall by ticketing more people. Often, those tickets for minor offenses then turned into arrest warrants.

Police officers were judged not only on the number of stops they made, but on the number of citations they issued. “Officers routinely conduct stops that have little relation to public safety and a questionable basis in law,” the report states. “Issuing three or four charges in one stop is not uncommon. Officers sometimes write six, eight, or, in at least one instance, fourteen citations for a single encounter.” Some officers compete to see who can issue the most citations in a single stop.

In one email, the police chief, who also oversees the municipal court, brags to the city manager about how much revenue it is generating. Ignoring that conflict of interest is a recipe for a justice system that bleeds the powerless of their meager resources.

The city’s judge was evaluated by the city council that appointed him, and they found that he was really bad at the whole “justice” part of his job, but he was outstanding at the “shakedown” part of his job.

He’s gone. So is the city manager. So is the police chief. So are a bunch of cops who sent Paladinoesque racist emails around. The city is a powderkeg, and somebody shot two cops last night. It goes without saying that violence is not the answer, but when America’s gun nuts go on and on about how the 2nd Amendment is about fighting governmental tyranny (it isn’t), I half expect the NRA or tea party to come out in defense of the shooter.

That sort of rhetoric, of course, is as dangerous as it is wrong.

But what’s going on with racism in this country? We’ve had a barrage of “nigger” coming out of white people’s mouths lately. A notable recent example came from some young idiot at the University of Oklahoma. It was heartening to see the rapid, strong, unwavering response from the school’s administration and the fraternity’s national governing body. The frat was shut down within hours, the students in question were expelled, and the school implemented its no tolerance policy properly.

What about locally? In the last year, we had the woman screaming “nigger” outside a dollar store, and the truck driver yelling that word at a woman who called him out for improperly using a handicapped spot. But this mentality isn’t rare in our segregated region.

Look no further than the WBEN Facebook page. Open and public, Operations Manager and Director of “Digital Strategy” Tim Wenger unapologetically encourages his station’s racist listeners to display their ignorance. Stuff like this:

or this

It can more subtle and easy to miss, of course, than the public rantings of WBEN’s oppressed white listenership. It can be blatantly obvious to the point of parody

What role, if any, did racial politics play in Bennett’s demise? School Board member Carl Paladino is sure it did. Peoples-Stokes, Heastie and Collins are all African-American, but that alone doesn’t prove anything. Bennett and many of his supporters are white and no one has claimed a racial component there. Still, race does seem to be playing a more dominant role in education, at least in Buffalo. It’s an important issue to resolve.

…like the Buffalo News taking cues on race relations from notorious forwarder of racist images and videos Carl Paladino.

I suppose we should be grateful, in a way, that all of this previously sub rosa racism is becoming more public. We can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist, or that it’s a problem that’s been rectified. It’s most definitely a serious problem in western New York, which is very segregated along racial and class lines. It’s hard to change people’s hearts and minds on these sorts of things. The comments at WBEN’s Facebook page or on Buffalo News stories are replete with racism – some anonymous, some from people who aren’t ashamed of their own ignorance. Social media seems to be an important factor in bringing episodes like Janelle Ambrosia or Oklahoma’s SAE racist bus song to light. In the past, it would have been rumor. Now, we have proof. The racism can be fleeting, like a casually thrown “nigger” during a parking lot dispute, but it’s the tip of an iceberg that the Ferguson report laid bare.

Racism remains not just a personal problem for many people, but a systemic one that does actual harm under color of law. We’ve come a long way in 50 years, but we still have a long way to go.

Amherst Parking: Coda

As a follow-up to yesterday’s viral story about an ugly verbal altercation in a local parking lot, I received an email late Tuesday from Marcia Lynn, the woman who shot the video of Kyle Mast verbally berating her from his pickup truck.

Here’s what she had to say in response to his explanation/apology:

In reference to Mr. Mast saying he did not “intentionally” park in a handicapped spot and he is “sensitive” to the needs of handicapped people, this is clearly false. There was no snow on the ground in Dick’s lot on Sunday.  All of the spaces have handicapped markings. My husband saw them when parking and didn’t park in those spots.  And even if he missed those clues, I did POLITELY tell him the first time he got out of his truck that it was handicapped. He chose not to move his car and said he didn’t care.  He stayed in the handicapped spot.

Mr. Mast said he was only in Dick’s for 5 minutes, yet he told you he went into Dick’s to “check out if there were any good sales.”  I’m sorry, but is he really trying to insinuate that he drove all the way to Dick’s to spend 5 minutes in there? I don’t think so. It takes longer than that to look at sale goods and he was in there longer. He pulled up right after my husband went in and my husband came out when I texted him after Mr. Mast called me nigger.  My husband was in there for a half hour. I feel he is trying to justify his parking in a handicapped space because he was “just in there for 5 minutes.” Which it wasn’t, but no matter how long he was in there, he shouldn’t have parked in that handicapped spot.

As far as going in to contact the manager or calling the police -I didn’t think to do it. I wouldn’t call 911 for a non-emergency and what is a store manager going to do?  Most retail employees fear customers’ reactions to being told such things. Additionally, aggressive customers like Mr. Mast have been known to attack people. If my husband had come out earlier, I wouldn’t have even been there when he came out. It would have ended there because I wasn’t pursuing the matter. I just thought to tell him so he didn’t take up the spot for someone who needed it, to say nothing of getting a ticket.

Mr. Mast says he is “adamant that he did not intentionally park in a handicapped spot.” He states, “it was accidental and not intentional.”  Well, if that is the case, then why didn’t he move his truck when he was informed of his indiscretion?  I’ll tell you why –he didn’t’ care.  He told you that he is sensitive to the “need for easy access for the disabled.” Yet, he didn’t move his truck.

In your interview he stated that as soon as he got out of his car, I began yelling at him, accusing him, “you can’t park there, you’re illegally parked.”  This is true. I did tell him that… But, he says he didn’t respond as he went into the store. This is untrue. We were both yelling back and forth to each other. I told him that spot was for war veterans without legs and people in wheelchairs. He swore at me. He yelled he didn’t care and told me “mind my own F***ing business.” Mr. Mast says that, as he came back out of the store, the “taunting” resumed until he got into his truck. He conveniently leaves the part out where he called me a B**** and was acting in an aggressive manner toward me the minute he came out. He was yelling and cussing at me when the only “taunting” I did was continue to tell him he was still parked illegally and he was wrong.  When he got into his truck he started revving the engine. I started videotaping because I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. I was worried he might ram my truck or something else and I wanted it on tape if he attacked me.

Mr. Mast said he noticed I was videotaping and in a “fit of rage he used a racial slur.”  If that is the case, it would be interesting to see what he does when someone is not videotaping.  He says he is sorry that he did that, and says, “it just came out,” but I feel that sort of word does not just “come out” unless you use it often.  So Mr. Mast must use that word often.  He says, “He didn’t even know or think I was black, and was just trying to come up with the most hateful word he could muster.”   Well, that’s nonsense because I’m clearly not white and I doubt he’s called other white people that name. These are all excuses to try to justify his racist actions.

You say that you feel Mr. Mast was genuinely remorseful for what he said and what had happened. And yet, he has yet to apologize to me personally.  I feel he is sorry, but not for his actions towards me, but for getting caught.

A lot of people have attacked Marcia Lynn for confronting Mr. Mast, in effect blaming the victim. That’s ridiculous. There were many different ways that this could have gone down, and each actor could have taken a different path, but Marcia Lynn’s decision to openly confront someone who, according to her, was parked improperly in a handicapped spot, was not the cause of Mr. Mast’s outrageous reaction.

Would you confront someone who was improperly taking a spot reserved for people who can’t get around easily? Perhaps not, but if you did, that doesn’t give the pig parker license to curse at you or call you a racial slur.

With respect to Mr. Mast’s explanation, on the video when she said he was parked in a handicapped spot, he didn’t say, “no I wasn’t”; he said, “so was everyone else”. That’s in the heat of the moment, as it’s happening. In my opinion, his explanation doesn’t hold water. As for Mr. Mast, he could have simply driven forward and ignored Marcia Lynn. He could have backed up, as he did, and yelled whatever epithet he wanted – short of racial slurs – and it wouldn’t have been an interesting story. Once he whipped out “nigger”, the whole thing changed.

When I spoked with Mr. Mast, I reminded him of Janelle Ambrosia, whose racist rant went viral last year. He wanted me to take the post down, and, in consultation with the editorial team at the Public, we spoke with him and decided not to. Instead, we offered to tell his side of the story and to delete references to his work and home. I told Mr. Mast that he had been recorded – with his knowledge – and that he can’t simply un-ring this bell because it had come back to haunt him. I suggested that – contrary to Ms. Ambrosia’s experience – that he had an opportunity now to explain and defend himself.

Obviously, I had to give Marcia Lynn at least the same opportunity. Nothing, after all, justifies someone calling someone a “nigger” over a yelling match in a parking lot. People need to maintain self-control if they’re going to leave the house. Honestly, I don’t understand the mentality where if you’re somehow irritated with someone, and you know they’re recording you, you rant and rave like a lunatic for everyone’s amusement.

Marcia Lynn wasn’t doing anything wrong by pointing out Mr. Mast’s improper parking. Even if, as he claims, she goaded and taunted him while he remained stoically silent, that doesn’t justify his reaction. Drive away. Change spots. Keep your window rolled up.

Don’t park in handicapped spots if you don’t have permission to do so – ever, under any circumstances. Don’t yell racial slurs at people, even if you think they’re being mean to you. That’s the lesson in social media and virality for today.

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