In trying to discredit Paladino, the New York Post trashes its own positions

I can understand the New York Post having it in for Carl Paladino after his threat to “take you out, buddy,” to the Post’s state editor Fredric Dicker the other week. But now the Post is going overboard in its anti-Paladino fervor. Its front page headline today is

Alarm over homosexual ‘brainwash’

GOP governor wannabe Carl Paladino yesterday told a Brooklyn Hasidic congregation that children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking homosexuality is OK.

Accompanied by a very strange photo of Paladino looking like a mad sinister gnome out of The Ring of the Nibelungen.

Thus the Post tells its readers that the statement that children should not be brainwashed by homosexualist propaganda is a monstrous “rant” against homosexuals.

In fact, Paladino’s speech was not a rant at all, but a standard conservative and Catholic and traditional Jewish criticism of the normalization of homosexuality in our schools and culture, the same criticism that the Post itself has articulated repeatedly over the years. If I had a dollar for every Post editorial attacking Heather Has Two Mommies and similar efforts in the schools to normalize homosexuality I could purchase a Park Avenue duplex. Yet now the Post characterizes its own past position as an “[anti-]gay rant.”

Here is the beginning of the New York Time’s story, which gives more of the speech than the Post’s coverage:

The Republican candidate for governor, Carl P. Paladino, told a gathering in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Sunday that children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking that homosexuality was acceptable, and criticized his opponent, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, for marching in a gay pride parade earlier this year.

Addressing Orthodox Jewish leaders, Mr. Paladino described his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option—it isn’t,” he said, reading from a prepared address, according to a video of the event.

And then, to applause at Congregation Shaarei Chaim, he said: “I didn’t march in the gay parade this year—the gay pride parade this year. My opponent did, and that’s not the example we should be showing our children.”

Again, these are standard conservative views on the subject, and there is no basis for calling it a rant, and there is no basis for a conservative paper to call it objectionable.

Unfortunately, the Paladino camp left itself open to the attack by (according to their account) letting the Jewish congregation collaborate on the speech, the prepared version of which the congregation released before Paladino’s appearance.

As the Post puts it:

A prepared text of the speech distributed by leaders of the congregation before it was delivered was far more incendiary, declaring that God disapproves of homosexuality and gays should be ashamed of themselves.

But Paladino did not read those lines, saying they were inserted by members of the congregation without his approval.

The line that Paladino saw in the written speech and skipped over was: “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.”

That line is objectionable, and probably sparked the “rant” charge, because it is going beyond saying that homosexuality is not good for individuals and society and should not be normalized; it is putting down homosexuals as human beings, which you don’t do when you’re running for governor of a state that has vast numbers of homosexuals in it. But Paladino didn’t say that sentence, and, according to the Paladino camp, had nothing to do with writing it. So what the Post’s “gay rant” charge comes down to is that the paper is trying to hurt Paladino, and in pursuit of that end, smearing positions it has strongly taken in the past. That is despicable.

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LA writes:

Of course, the Post always has a ready made excuse for situations like this: that its editorial and op-ed pages and its news pages are not edited by the same people. But that doesn’t wash. It’s one newspaper, not two newspapers.

Sophia W. writes:

Paladino’s problem is that he is incapable of explaining rationally and calmly why he said what he said about homosexuality. He’s going to get caught in that deadly whirlpool of explaining oneself while the media take potshots at him. This would be hard enough for a more experienced politician to do, it will be impossible for him.

The galling thing about these media smackdowns is that the vast majority of normal people KNOW what he means, and agree with him. Moreover, they are sympathetic to the position he finds himself in (of having to explain what need not be explained, as we have all been in that position in our own lives).

But these modern politicians and media personalities don’t seem to understand the basics of Rational Debate 101—gracefully standing your ground with facts, reason and logic. Don Imus was in the exact same position. He said something a bit unkind and over the line, but nothing compared to what a million black rappers have said. Instead of calmly standing his ground, he kept shifting and digging.

In any case, no matter what he does, I’m still standing with my man!

Dean Ericson writes:

I was interested to see that Orthodox Jews are outspoken social conservatives. I hadn’t thought much about it, what their politics were, though I suppose it might have been inferred. But it might also be thought that, well, they’re Jews, so they have to be liberals, right? Wrong. But I should have been able to figure it out. I saw a gathering of Orthodox Jews in a park not too long ago, not black hats, but conservatively dressed, the men in nice slacks and dress shirts and kippahs (that little bitty disc hat), the women in longish dresses and long sleeved blouses, some hair scarves. A good-looking group, and not a tattoo or a piercing or bulging barrel of flesh to be seen. But lots of children, nicely dressed and well-behaved. It looked like a happy, healthy American scene right out of the 1950s. I wonder what the anti-Semitic right makes of conservative Jews. Also I don’t see anyone criticizing the Orthodox Jews, at least not the way they’re going after Paladino. Do liberal Jews hate their conservative fellows? It’s quite an interesting divide.

LA replies:

First, let’s distinguish among the different types of religious Jews.

There are Reform Jews, who are like ultra liberal mainline Protestants. They don’t really believe in God and the Bible, they believe in liberalism.

There are Conservative Jews, who I gather have moved steadily leftward and are more and more like Reform Jews. Reform and Conservatism Judaism seem to exist principally in the United States.

There are the modern Orthodox Jews. The group you saw in the park was modern Orthodox. They accept and live in the modern world, while following Jewish law. They tend to be conservativer and Republican.

Then there are the traditional Orthodox Jews, consisting of the Hasidim (the men wear round hats and no tie), and the non-Hasidic traditional orthodox (the men wear fedoras and ties). The Hasidim reject the modern world and the people in it, though they try to benefit from it, through the use of welfare and government programs. Their communities are formed along medieval, hierarchical lines, with the Rebbe as the leader and guide of the community and the maker of all major decisions. Hasids see all non-Jews and all non-Hasidic Jews as less than full human beings or fellow human beings. Read the remarkable and disturbing 2000 book Postville, written by a secular Jew, which tells how a community of Hasidim behaved toward their neighbors after the latter had welcomed them into an Iowa town. They were so impossible to live with that ultimately the town asked them to leave. Fortunately, the Hasidim do not seek political power, at least in the U.S. They truly are a people apart.

I have less of a sense of the non-Hasidic traditional orthodox, but clearly they are not as radically separated from and hostile to the modern world as the Hasids are.

Modern orthodox and traditional orthodox tend to be conservative, at least on moral and social issues. In Israel, the secular majority and the Hasidic minority hate each other. In America, the Hasids are almost politically invisible, though candidates will come to their communities and appeal for their votes, because whoever the Rebbe says to support, the entire community will tend to vote for that candidate.

Karl D. writes:

You said: “The Hasidim reject the modern world and the people in it, though they try to benefit from it, through the use of welfare and government programs.”

Very true. Up until a couple of years ago I had no idea that the “poorest” town in America is not in the deep south, but just a short drive north of New York City. It is the town of Kiryat Joel.

LA replies:
Explain what you mean by “poorest.”

Karl D. replies:

Well, according to the 2008 census the town had the highest poverty rate in the entire country. But if you are referring to my scare quotes it is because I am dubious of that distinction. I think there is a huge underground cash only economy in that community. Somehow they manage to keep buying land and build. And from what I have observed they seem to be driving brand new cars. When I used to drive down the Palisades parkway (in some corners known as the Hasidic highway) I would often see them zipping by. I also remember on one occasion at a rest stop/gas station on the parkway seeing a Hasidic man purchase a stack of lottery tickets five inches thick. Do these things prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt? No. But it is disturbing. On a more humorous note. Some years ago my cousin took me to a strip club in Times Square in the middle of the day. When we walked in the door I was floored. The place was filled with Hasidim. I couldn’t stop laughing. Had their wives only known?

LA replies:

Maybe they went there as a kind of class trip, to study how the goyim live.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 11, 2010 09:26 AM | Send

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