New York News

The Season of Gay Whiplash

The New Yorker Magazine has an excellent article on the recent rash of gay bashing, bullying and assaults…

Between Paladino, the Bronx tortures, and the suicides, are things really getting better?

A few weeks ago, I found myself wondering whether the Logo reality show The A-List—in which a handful of vapidly handsome men make fools of themselves in the playground of Manhattan—would be “bad for the gays.” That this would even occur to me as a concern shows just how blissfully easy it can be to be a gay man in New York.

How embarrassingly silly that worry seems this week, with the news of the torture of three young gay men in the Bronx. That came on the heels of a string of gay-teen suicides nationwide, including one young man at Rutgers who felt so humiliated by his roommate that he jumped off the George Washington Bridge. And in the midst of it all, this state’s Republican nominee for governor declares that homosexuality is not a “valid or successful” option. As we were trying to process all of this, the Washington Post allowed Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, to write a thuggish op-ed inspired by those suicides, as though his bigoted gay-conspiracy theories are legitimate.   Continue reading…

An Angry Rabbi Breaks With Paladino

This is not the sort of thing that wins a candidate votes.  In fact, political pundits are saying that one can “stick a fork in Paladino…he’s done”.

Huffington Post

The alliance between the Republican Carl P. Paladino and an Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn has fallen apart, with the rabbi denouncing Mr. Paladino on Wednesday for his apology over remarks he had made about homosexuality on Sunday.

The rabbi, Yehuda Levin, who helped write those remarks, said Mr. Paladino “folded like a cheap camera” because of the uproar they had set off. And the rabbi said he could no longer support Mr. Paladino’s candidacy for governor of New York.

Read the whole story: New York Times

Mario Piperni: Carl Paladino – Bad Guy

 

 The New York Post is a rag and Carl Paladino is trash which makes a fitting combo for this latest round of sleaze.

Seems that Carl Paladino has lived up to his “mad as hell” campaign slogan.

Last night at a campaign event in Lake George, the New York Republican gubernatorial nominee and New York Post state editor Fred Dicker had to be separated, after they nearly came to blows during a heated exchange over Paladino’s out-of-wedlock daughter.

Paladino accused Dicker of sending Post photographers after the 10-year-old girl, who he had with a woman who is not his wife. “You send another goon to my daughter’s house, and I’ll take you out, buddy!” Paladino yelled.

Previously, Paladino accused his opponent, Andrew Cuomo, of having had an affair.

“Has anybody asked Andrew Cuomo about his paramours?” Paladino asked, adding: “When he was married. Or asked him why his wife left him or threw him out of the house? Has anybody ever done that?”

Politician’s children should of course be left out of political mud-slinging but Paladino does bring a new level of filth to the fight.  His XXX-rated and racist emails as well as his thuggery is an embarrassment to all politicians – a group of individuals not easily embarrassed.

You can thank teabaggers for giving scum like Paladino a national forum.

 

911 Widow: My Husband Didn’t Stand for Hate

I suspect thousands of the victims of 9/11 felt the way the author’s husband did…

Huffington PostRaina Wallens

This time of year is always very hard for me. The rapid drop in humidity, the crispness of the air and clear blue of the sky that prior to September 11, 2001 could only be described as deliciously divine now catapult many 9/11 victims and family members, such as myself, immediately back to the sheer horror of that day nine years ago, and the weeks, months and years following. The actual anniversary day is the most harrowing for many. I say “for many,” because unlike the leaders of the organizations protesting what they’ve coined the “Ground Zero mosque,” I don’t claim to speak for all 9/11 family members. We are an enormous and diverse group, with varied opinions. But for many, the anniversary can be a day of sacred remembrance, of relived visceral terror (not helped by the bombardment of crass media coverage), and of many, many other private rituals and feelings 9/11 family members have.

Now, if the likes of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, conservative bloggers and founders of an organization called Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), have their way, the anniversary will also be a day for their anti-‘mosque’ rally near Ground Zero. (Notice I say “near” and not “at” because little details like the truth actually matter to me.) SIOA, the organization largely responsible for making the “Ground Zero mosque” a national issue, will seize upon the opportunity to exploit our devastating losses to promote their agenda of hate.   Continue reading…

Bloomberg Bashes Park51 Critics On ‘The Daily Show’ (VIDEO)

Huffington Post 

Mayor Bloomberg stopped by the Daily Show last night to speak with host Jon Stewart about the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero. 

Bloomberg has been arguably the most outspoken New York politician in favor of the center. 

“People say well, in Saudi Arabia you can’t build a church,” Bloomberg said. “Yes. That’s the difference between Saudi Arabia and America.” 

He also made the argument that all the fear-mongering surrounding the Park51 project is largely due to politicians trying to score points in an election year. 

“This is plain and simple people trying to stir up things to get publicity and trying to polarize people so that they can get some votes,” Bloomberg said. “And I don’t think that most of these people who are yelling and screaming really care one way or another.”   Watch the entire interview below: 

 

Man Shouts ‘Terrorists’ In Mosque, Urinates On Prayer Rugs

I suspect these attacks on Muslims are just a sampling of things to come unless someone from either party, some “grown-up” comes out and says “enough!”.   

I am so sick of hearing, “No one is arguing that they have a fundamental right to freedom of religion, BUT…”  To me, what that says is that opponents of the Park 51 site want to set aside that fundamental freedom and replace it by asking  the supporters and developers to understand the “sensitivity” of the issue with respect to those who died in the 9/11 assault. 

That’s unacceptable…Muslims died on that day as well.

Huffington Post

In another brazen anti-Muslim incident, a man wandered into a mosque in Queens Wednesday night, shouting racial slurs and urinating all over prayer rugs.

According to police, a drunk Omar Rivera shouted “terrorists” before relieving himself in the Iman Mosque.

Reports the New York Post:

Evening prayers were disrupted at the Iman Mosque on Steinway Street in Astoria when the unhinged man “came in with a beer bottle in his hands, clearly very intoxicated,” said Mustapha Sadouki, who was attending services.”He fumbled over to our rugs where people were praying” and then committed the despicable desecration, Sadouki said.

Police took Rivera to a hospital and charged him with criminal trespass.

Fox Hosts Agree With Obama’s Defense Of Mosque: ‘He Has To Stand Up For Our Constitution’

As I recall President Obama’s oath of office, and the same for all 43 presidents that preceded him, the following words define the primary objective for serving as the President of the United States of America:

I, ______,  do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

It’s a simple yet very powerful affirmation that as the President of the United States, preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution is priority one.  It’s a clear and concise mandate that all people residing in this country expect their leader to follow.  Having said that…

Think Progress

Reacting to President Obama’s forceful defense of Muslims’ rights to build a new Islamic community center near Ground Zero, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) — who believes there are “too many mosques in this country” — said, “It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero.” King’s statement underscores one of the least understood facts of the new project: there is already a mosque near Ground Zero.

Today, the New York Times reports on Masjid Manhattan (located four blocks from Ground Zero) and Masjid al-Farah (located 12 blocks from Ground Zero):

But what the two mosques have in common — besides the sense of celebration and camaraderie that comes at the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, in which Muslims fast from sunup to sundown, give alms and focus on self-improvement — is that both have existed for decades, largely unnoticed, blocks from the World Trade Center site.

[…]

Obama’s defense of the mosque has found some support on the right. Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said Obama’s comments were “ultimately the right thing to do,” adding, “Obama is correct that the way to marginalize radicalism is to respect the best traditions of Islam and protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans.”

Even on Fox News this morning, the Fox & Friends weekend hosts all agreed that Obama is performing the job that’s required of him. “Obama has to stand up for religious freedom,” said co-host Alisyn Camerota. “He has to stand up for our Constitution,” co-host Dave Briggs offered, to which co-host Clayton Morris added, “That’s the job he gets…defend the Constitution.” Watch it:

Think Progress: Obama Speaks Out On Mosque Controversy: ‘Our Commitment To Religious Freedom Must Be Unshakeable’

Think Progress’ take on the President’s speech last night:

Tonight, President Obama hosted an iftaar dinner at the White House — a feast marking the culmination of a day of fasting for practicing Muslims during the current Islamic calendar month of Ramadan. At remarks delivered at the dinner, Obama spoke out on the controversy surrounding the construction of a new Islamic center near the Ground Zero site, firmly siding in favor of the project:

OBAMA: Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

From the moment he entered office, Obama has made a commitment to engaging in a more positive relationship with the Muslim world. During his inaugural address, Obama said, “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” And later, in a speech in Cairo, Egypt, Obama added, “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.” But the right-wing antics against the construction of mosques, the disturbing instances of hate crimes against Muslims, and the rising tide of Islamophobia has served to frustrate the administration’s commitment to engage with the Muslim world.

So, Obama’s strenuous defense of the “Ground Zero mosque” tonight is significant not just in bolstering the credibility of his message to the Muslim world, but it also engages him directly in the political fight against far right extremists here at home who wish to erode the American values at stake in the fight over the mosque. Obama emphasized tonight that “our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect to those who are different from us” is an important marker of the distinction between us and the “nihilism” of terrorists. In other words, using language that perhaps Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and their fellow xenophobic cynics might be more comfortable with — the question is simple: Are you with us or against us?

~UPDATES~

Update Rep. Peter King (R-NY), an ardent opponent of the mosque, issued a statement essentially arguing that bigotry should respected and tolerated. “President Obama is wrong,” King said. “It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero. While the Muslim community has the right to build the mosque they are abusing that right by needlessly offending so many people who have suffered so much.”

Update New York’s Conservative Party is planning to air TV ads to ask a private company not to lease its building for the construction of the Islamic center.

Update The leaders behind the Islamic center project were excited to hear Obama’s remarks. “We are so blessed to be Americans! This is the greatest country in the world,” Sharif El-Gamal, the project’s developer, said in an email to the New York Daily News.

Update Glenn Greenwald heralds the speech as “one of the most impressive and commendable things Obama has done since being inaugurated.”

PRESIDENT DEFENDS ‘GROUND ZERO’ MOSQUE

As a constitutional lawyer and scholar, what else is the President of The United States supposed to do?  Pander to his detractors so that they will feel better about him?  They’ll continue to hate his guts either way.  They will always hate him, so detractors be damned. 

This man is standing by his convictions.  For those who will resurrect the “Obama is a Muslim” meme, please, just go away and find something constructive to do with your lives.

As for Fox News Channel’s response, it will be an incessant week-end of castigating the POTUS and demands for him to be impeached.  I’m glad he waited to drop this bombshell on a Friday.  That way, by Monday it will be a three day old story and Robert Gibbs will hold his daily press briefing and clarify all the misconceptions, innuendos and lies that will have popped up from the right wing media between now and then. 

Good for you Mr. President, for standing by yourt convictions and your knowledge of what the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause means.

UPDATE: For those persons who will ask why was President Obama at a Muslim Dinner celebrating Ramadan, just look at this…then hush! 

Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday forcefully endorsed allowing a mosque near ground zero, saying the country’s founding principles demanded no less.

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has riven New York City and the nation.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

Obama made the comments at an annual dinner in the White House State Dining Room celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The White House had not previously taken a stand on the mosque, which would be part of a $100 million Islamic center two blocks from where nearly 3,000 people perished when hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. Press secretary Robert Gibbs had insisted it was a local matter.

It was already much more than that, sparking debate around the country as top Republicans including Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich announced their opposition. So did the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group.

Obama elevated it to a presidential issue Friday without equivocation.

While insisting that the place where the twin towers once stood was indeed “hallowed ground,” Obama said that the proper way to honor it was to apply American values.

“Our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us – and that way of life, that quintessentially American creed, stands in stark contrast to the nihilism of those who attacked us on that September morning, and who continue to plot against us today,” he said.  Continue reading…

$7 Million Awarded in the Sean Bell NYPD Shooting

This incident happened in 2006.  The police officers accused of firing over fifty shots in the incident were acquitted.  The United States Department of Justice has declined to file charges of violating the victim’s civil rights, against the officers involved.  This incident happened in Queens.  I grew up in Queens after moving to the New York City suburb, Hollis, Queens in 1963.  I know the neighborhood.  I know the prejudices.  I had hoped by 2006, things would have changed dramatically.  Unfortunately, it didn’t.

The victim, Sean Bell was killed in the early morning hours on the day of his wedding.  He was just leaving his bachelor party that his friends threw for him.

Wikipedia  summarizes the incident:

The Sean Bell shooting incident took place in the New York City borough of Queens on November 25, 2006, in which 3 men were shot a total of fifty times by a team of both plainclothes and undercover NYPD officers, killing one of the men, Sean Bell, on the morning after his bachelor party, and severely wounding two of his friends.[1] The incident sparked fierce criticism of the police from some members of the public and drew comparisons to the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo.[2] Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial[3] on charges ranging from manslaughter to reckless endangerment, and were found not guilty.[4]

Black Voices

The city of New York reached a settlement today on the shooting of Sean Bell by police. The Bell estate will receive $3.5 million and the remainder will go to the families of Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, who were with Bell on the night of the shooting.

Bell was shot on the night before his wedding in 2006.

“The Sean Bell shooting highlighted the complexities our dedicated officers must face each day. The City regrets the loss of life in this tragic case, and we share our deepest condolences with the Bell family,” Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said when the deal was announced.

The settlement frees the city from having to admit any wrongdoing. The money will go to Bell’s two children, and his fiancee Nicole Paultre-Bell. Three of the five officers involved in the shooting, where 50 bullets were fired, were tried and acquitted of manslaughter in a 2008 trial. The officers claim that they believed Bell and his friends were armed on the night of the shooting, but it turned out that they were not.

If Barack Obama wants to speak on an issue related to race, he can speak on the Sean Bell incident. The Henry Louis Gates case is not a solid prototype for racial injustice, but the Bell case certainly is. The shooting of Sean Bell is one of the rare cases in which black men who are harassed by police actually find a way to receive justice (even though Bell himself paid the ultimate price). In most cases, justice is not served. Instead, victims are served with long prison sentences and a label of guilt that precludes them from ever being a part of our society again. That is something to think about.