Charles Barron

Source: council.nyc.gov

BETWEEN THE LINES: Some voters could care less — and others may be unaware — that there’s a primary election tomorrow for the seat being vacated by retiring 15-term Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns.

(Check out our guide to the congressional primaries, with info on all the local districts, the incumbents, and the candidates for both the primaries and the general elections.)

To begin with, the end of June is more suited for end of public school year activities, graduations and the start of summer vacations than an election.

Nevertheless, this primary, which is expected to produce an inconsequential voter turnout, has pundits and politicians anxiously awaiting the outcome, mostly because of the two candidates running for the Democratic nomination in the newly-created 8th Congressional District that cuts a swath across Brooklyn from Fort Greene and Bed-Stuy to East New York and Canarsie, and from Mill Basin and Bergen Beach to Brighton Beach and Coney Island. It even stretches east into Howard Beach and Ozone Park in Queens.

State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and City Councilman Charles Barron are facing off to succeed Towns. It would, without a doubt, be a huge mistake, if Barron was the victor.

I’m registered in the neighboring 9th District, so I won’t be able to choose between Jeffries and Barron. Nonetheless, I come to figuratively bury Barron, not praise him.

Barron frequently spews his prejudiced point of view that may have been expected when he was a Black Panther, a revolutionary group that preached armed resistance to societal oppression of African Americans, but that sort of inflammatory rhetoric has no place even in divisive politics.

When he announced his candidacy for borough president five summers ago, Barron pledged “unapologetically” to do whatever he can solely for Brooklyn’s black population. When he apparently realized he might need votes in other communities, Barron patronizingly added he would “be there for white and Asian communities as well.”

In the last few weeks, Barron has received key endorsements from Towns, who, just six years ago, referred to Barron as “a bomb-thrower” when he ran against him, and District Council 37, the city’s largest public-employee union. In its June 7 endorsement of Barron, the Amsterdam News, the nation’s leading black newspaper, noted, “Barron embodies the soul of the community… It has not always a smooth ride; (he) can be both arrogant and stubborn, but those qualities are what has made him the successful freedom fighter he is.”

However, Barron was chastised by the city’s three dailies. In a June 15 editorial, the liberal New York Times called him “an embarrassing ideologue,” while three days later the right-wing New York Post said he was “a shameless racial demagogue.” In its Sunday editorial, the Daily News said, “Democrats … must awaken to the threat posed by Barron, a councilman who has made a career of the racial taunt.”

While Barron appears to have mellowed in recent campaign stops, it’s just to attract voters, not because his extremely biased attitudes have changed. With district boundaries altered from what they were during Towns’ tenure, the new 8th District has a significantly whiter population (22.4 percent), though it retains a large black majority (53 percent). Nevertheless, if Barron, with his typical arrogance, was elected, he’s likely to become the most maverick legislator Congress has seen in many a moon.

On the other hand, even if Barron’s arrogance was less weighted against whites, which is highly unlikely based on his personal history and remarks, he would still not be a viable candidate because of his antagonism towards Israel as a “terrorist state” and his remarks when he referred to Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy as his personal hero.

His record paints him as a divisive firebrand who would not work towards helping to heal the nation’s problems, but merely exacerbate them. If he is elected he would then have a national audience to voice his bigoted rants.

But, as Barron tries to appear relevant and worthy of serving in Congress, his record demonstrates that he has not been very outspoken on critical issues that affect his constituents.

He fittingly grandstands whenever someone appears to have been unjustly wronged in his district, but he doesn’t adequately campaign to get guns off the streets in his high-crime council district. Nor do I recall his outrage about cracking down on rampant drug use. He also seems too passive about trying to reduce black-on-black crime and pays insufficient attention to the endless gang violence that keeps residents of public housing in a constant state of fear.

For years, Barron has had only a single agenda and a narrow-minded view. A decade ago he said that he wanted “to go up to the closest white person slap him, just for my mental health.” He also reportedly threatened to storm the Treasury Department if the federal government failed to pay reparations to blacks for slavery and discrimination.

It’s one thing to espouse an agenda and promote a cause, but it’s out of place when you’re running for a public office in a district that includes a diverse constituency.

Here’s a man who, on occasion, said he will never recite or stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The Daily Beast recently reported that, Barron was at his Bed-Stuy district campaign headquarters when a middle-aged man confronted him and said that he heard Barron is against the Constitution, the candidate replied, “I’m the biggest patriot there is.”

Barron has the right not to recite the Pledge, the Star Spangled Banner or America the Beautiful, but to still maintain you are patriotic seems hypocritical.

Earlier this month, as reported on Sheepshead Bites, former Mayor Ed Koch joined several local elected representatives, including Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz and Helene Weinstein and City Council members David Greenfield and Michael Nelson, at a Manhattan press conference to denounce Barron for anti-Israel statements. The Jewish state is a vital U.S. ally in the Middle East, but that obviously doesn’t matter to Barron, who a few years ago compared what was happening to Palestinians in Gaza to “a concentration camp.”

With a portion of a district with a considerable Jewish population, including many Soviet immigrants, Barron should not expect much support on Tuesday, especially considering the recent rightward trend of voters in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

Barron may have toned down his racist rhetoric in recent campaign stops in a blatant ploy to garner votes, but only the most politically naïve would fall for that strategy. For decades he has been a voice of hatred and it’s highly suspect that he has changed. And his passionate anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements, including his reference to Israel as a terrorist state and his claim that the Holocaust never occurred, will never be forgotten or forgiven by many voters.

Despite this nation’s dishonorable past of electing bigots to Congress, anyone whose history includes apparent revulsion for anyone but African-Americans should not hold public office.

The Baron of Bias does not deserve to be elected on Tuesday because to elect Charles Barron to serve in Congress would be an awful mistake that neither Brooklyn nor the nation can afford.

Neil S. Friedman is a veteran reporter and photographer, and spent 15 years as an editor for a Brooklyn weekly newspaper. He also did public relations work for Showtime, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. Friedman contributes a weekly column called “Between the Lines” on life, culture and politics in Sheepshead Bay.

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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  • levp

    There are, actually, a lot more other reasons to support Mr. Jeffries.

    The following is from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee:

    “Jeffries is the only candidate in the race to get 100% on the 99elect candidate
    questionnaire sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, New York Working Families Party, MoveOn, Democracy for America, and others.

    That means he stands firmly for Wall Street accountability, government investment in jobs, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and stopping corporate money in politics by overturning Citizens United.

    Hakeem Jeffries will be an effective fighter for the 99%, and he has our endorsement.

    Here are Hakeem Jeffries’ shortened answers on the 99Elect questionnaire:

    Do you support a full investigation into Wall Street abuses, and jail time for bankers if they broke the law? YES
    Do you support a new Glass-Steagall and other systemic changes to prevent another financial meltdown? YES
    Do you support major government investment in jobs and infrastructure? YES
    Do you support strengthening the rights of workers to collectively bargain? YES
    Will you oppose benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security? YES
    Do you support efforts to reduce student loan debt? YES
    Do you support forcing the rich to pay their fair share of taxes and will you oppose any extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? YES
    Do you support a tax on Wall Street’s reckless speculation? YES
    Do you support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United? YES
    Do you support publicly-funded elections? YES”.

    So the only question now is: can his stance on a potential Iran war be forgiven?

    • Kool4Coney

      Lev, what is his stance on a potential war with Iran (an insane prospect) ?  I am relieved to read his stances on other issues which seem much more pressing to this newly created district.  thanks for posting this.

  • http://www.google.com/ F_a_b_a
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  • Nowaynohow

    Charlie Barron represents the best of the Democratic Party. He hates America, Caucasian Americans, Israel, is a radical Communist,  unabashed bigot and product of race baiting. And the fact that he makes no attempt to hide any of those wonderful characteristics so representative of Democrats, makes him not only the best Congressional  candidate, but ready to serve as President of the United States.

    I support Charlie “Smack a white man” Barron 150% and will vote for him at least once. I will be so proud to have him as my Congressman. He is infinitely preferable to a despicable Republican.

    • Kool4Coney

      charles barrone represents CHARLES BARRONE… period.  he always has and he hopes to continue.

    • MyBrooklyn

      down with this bastard Charlles Barron….scumbag. This is first time ever I will go and vote for his opponent.

    • levp

      Forward, comrade!

  • levp

    Again from Progressive Change Campaign Committee:

    “BREAKING: PCCC-endorsed candidate Hakeem Jeffries just won his hotly-contested primary in New York’s 8th congressional district. 

    It’s a Democratic district, so Mr. Jeffries is going to Washington!

    We ran over 4,700,000 online ads highlighting Jeffries’ support for holding Wall Street accountable, taxing the rich, and other issues of importance to the 99%. (See some ads on the right.)

    Hakeem will be a strong progressive ally in Congress. He was endorsed by the PCCC, MoveOn, Working Families Party, local unions, and other progressive organizations.

    Hakeem made big news during the Trayvon Martin controversy when he and other black legislators wore hoodies into the New York state capitol to highlight racial discrimination and Shoot First laws.

    He also joined PCCC members for a national media event demanding that conservative Democratic legislators drop their membership in ALEC — the group that pushes voter suppression, union busting, and Shoot First legislation in the states.

    We’re looking forward to working with him more in the days ahead.”

  • NSF

    Even is his statement after loss, reported by the Post, Barron shows why he did not deserve to serve in Congress:                                                                          “At the risk of sounding like a sore loser, honesty compels me to say there will be no congratulatory statement . . . to the opposition tonight, only because of the way the campaign was run and the things they did to character-assassinate us,” Barron said at an election-night gathering at Sistas Place in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
    He also called out the media for “really lowlife stuff” and singled out the “white media” as being against him.

    Hast la vista Barron!

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  • Ra San Dada

    Charles Barron not winning the primary was a major mistake on the part of the electorate of the 8th congressional district.  In the media, his stance on the fascist state of Israel and it’s Storm Trooper Lobbying methods, has been touted as a major factor in Jefferies victory.  But to the vigilant African resident of Bed Sty, Hakim Jefferies is solidly ensconced in the pocket of the Jewish Brooklyn power elete.  Jefferies, get some BALLS. The people of Bed-Sty have not had dedicated political leadership in over 40 years. Bed-Sty has had a procession of one clown after another.
    Lining their pockets and not doing the job that they were elected to do.  Prove me wrong Hakim. Show me that you are in deed worthy of your first name. And not some new “N-word” lapdog of the Rabbis.  A politician is a servant of his constituency. SERVE & PROTECT!!!  Or else I’ll see that you’re replaced by someone who’s BLACK, PROUD AND COMMITTED!!!

    Rev. Ra San Dada
    PROBLAC/PAC