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Letters to Artvoice

Bruce Fisher was right when he said, in “The Corrosive Consequences of Casual Hate Speech” (Artvoice v8n44), “Worse behavior will come if there are no consequences now.” And he asked, “How does a community look when its leaders—religious, secular, institutional, and elected alike—merely shrug at hate speech?”

And then he made a really important mistake. About a history we’d better not forget or revise.

Fisher wrote that in the early 1980s our so-called leaders and college presidents led a march to confront a blatantly racist, anti-Semitic neo-Nazi who came to town. That isn’t true. We need to remember very clearly what actually happened, because that history has critical lessons for us today.

After a string of shocking racist murders of African-American men had occurred in Buffalo, the Nazi Party announced that it would hold a national celebration/demonstration on the steps of our City Hall on January 15, 1981, Martin Luther King’s birthday. A coalition of labor, progressive, and community groups immediately formed and called for an overwhelming counter-demonstration, to show how we deal with hate and with bigots.

The mayor then was Jimmy Griffin, whose blatant history of outspoken bigotry was swept under the rug by media and elected officials when he died a while back. At first his administration tried to do nothing about the planned KKK-Nazi demonstration. They refused to acknowledge that Nazis and Klansmen should not have a place at our City Hall.

The overwhelming majority of our local religious, educational and elected luminaries ridiculed the neo-Nazi demonstration and its vicious racist agenda of organizing hate. They advised the people of Buffalo, especially the African-American community who had suffered racist murders that had not yet been solved, to ignore it. Rabbis advised their Jewish congregants to ignore it too.

Then, when organizing for the counter-demonstration grew huge, and interest in participating and confronting the KKK and Nazi thugs began to come from nationwide civil rights, progressive and labor organizations, the mayor, with the complete cooperation of (if not in conspiracy with) the media, banned all demonstrations.

It’s to the great credit of that militant and progressive coalition that it was determined to go through with the counter-demonstration in the face of an illegal and unconstitutional ban, and the combined threats by the government, the press and the police.

Finally, at the very last minute, the mayor and the establishment were forced to abandon the ban.

In a last-ditch effort to try to weaken people’s determination to confront and denounce the fascists, the mayor and the city administration had to sponsor their own government-supported and establishment-controlled rally to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. They held it at the same time as the anti-Nazi counter-demonstration, several blocks away. It was, unfortunately, the first, last, and only official city-sponsored event honoring Dr. King.

Two thousand people marched and demonstrated anyway against two Nazis heavily guarded by police.

We’d better not forget that it was us, the people of Buffalo, who saw the need to not let racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry go unchallenged. And we’d better not wait for our so-called leaders to step up when fascists need to be confronted.

Ellie Dorritie

Erie County Executive Chris Collins’ comparison of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (an orthodox Jew) to Hitler and the Antichrist confirms my suspicion that the GOP is in bed with “Christian Identity,” an Aryan, elitist religious sect.

Collins, like millions of other Americans, has apparently been indoctrinated by the History Channel’s constant repetition of Nostrdamus’ prophecies and their various interpretations. If they haven’t done so already, the GOP will soon label President Barack Obama as the third Antichrist of Nostradamus’ prophecies, the charismatic world leader and spellbinding orator who unites the military forces of the Earth to fight Jesus Christ and his armada from outer space at his second coming. Earth’s forces, of course, will be annihilated in this final conflict. Jesus Christ will reign supreme!

Collins’ despicably unfunny and crass characterization of Sheldon Silver is just the tip of the iceberg to which voters will be exposed by the GOP in the upcoming elections in 2010 and 2012. Mixing religious fanaticism with politics is the ultimate evil. May God help us to understand the significance of the world in which we live.

Robert J. Parton

Artvoice reserves the right to edit letters for content and length. Shorter letters have a better chance at being published in their entirety. Please include your name, hometown, and contact number. E-mail letters to: or write to: Artvoice Letters, 810 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202

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