Hispanics, beware: By the process of elimination, you’re next.
If not you, then Native Americans.
It’s just a matter of time before serial offender Carl Paladino demeans another racial group and then claims he was misunderstood.
The Buffalo School Board member has spent the last three years scoring twofers by insulting both African-Americans and women with attacks on a “Sisterhood” of black female leaders. Last weekend, he added “damn Asians” to the list, complaining at a public rally in Olean about “foreigners” enrolling at the University at Buffalo and getting tuition breaks.
The fact that he was flatly wrong about the tuition is almost beside the point when talking about the wealthy developer caught forwarding racist, sexist emails during his 2010 run for governor.
But I’m long past wondering about the inner workings of a mind that leaks the racism Albert Einstein once called “a disease of white people.”
Instead, I’m wondering about the double standard that too many others cling to whenever Paladino launches a verbal assault that should get him drummed out of the club of respectable gentlemen.
Whites insistently call on black leaders to publicly condemn and distance themselves from Louis Farrakhan, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright or any other black accused of outrageous comments.
But where are the white School Board colleagues or fellow business leaders who will publicly condemn Paladino? Where are Buffalo’s elites who will say that someone with those views is unfit for public office in a pluralistic society, not to mention on a board overseeing a predominantly minority school district?
It’s important for anti-bias and grass-roots groups to speak out, as they did. But it’s not enough to hear only from those often dismissed as the “grievance industry.”
Where are the business organizations and leaders who run in Paladino’s circle and who are not so easily ignored by those with seats at the table?
They are the ones constantly on guard to protect Buffalo’s cherished “national image” and to promote this as a welcoming area to tourists and companies looking to relocate. You’d think they’d be as up in arms, as they were when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dissed Buffalo’s hotels or whenever a national news story mentions that it snows here in winter.
The racist ramblings of a homegrown “leader” will have far more impact than any outsider in shaping this city’s modern image. To update the aphorism for a social media age, ignorant comments like Paladino’s can be halfway around the world while Buffalo boosters are still putting on their shoes.
But as long as he’s invited to speak at public events, as long as he has public support – as demonstrated by his carrying Western New York when he ran for governor, and by his election to the School Board – and as long as he gets a pass from other leaders who refuse to shun him, it’s just a matter of time until he speaks again.
The result is that for every step forward via a national story about the new Buffalo, the community will be pushed two steps back by one fool with a microphone.
After all, “We embrace racism!” is not a great marketing slogan.