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Marina Rosin Levine Would town leaders accept Higbie if his rhetoric targeted Jews?

January 31, 2019

I had the pleasure of spending an evening with the Chabad of Greenwich. For those unfamiliar with the culture of this Jewish congregation; the Chabad organization practices Judaism based on inclusion-creating a welcoming community regardless of one’s religion, culture or lifestyle. The theme of the evening was that the soul in our body is much like a wick in a candle; without it, one cannot shine a light onto darkness.

That reaffirmed my need to write this commentary regarding Wednesday’s Town Hall event permitted by and participatory of First Selectman-Peter Tesei and state Rep. Fred Camillo (who missed the even, citing a scheduling conflict). This event was advertised as a panel debate of current issues with guests representing both sides of the aisle. The scheduled left-leaning guests are hardly known as experts of progressive policy, while the right leaning guests are known for their ultra right conservative views. The event’s far-right leaning host, Carl Higbie, is best known for controversial, racist, and vile commentary as a media personality on far-right leaning show “Sound of Freedom” and host on equally right leaning, America’s Voice Network, the network that sponsored this event. Most notably, Mr. Higbie was bounced off the Trump administration for being deemed too controversial and racist even for them. So why are our leaders leaning in?

I go back to the very first question I had when I learned about this event. If Mr. Higbie replaced any of the following categories of people whom he repeatedly denigrates, Muslims, Progressive women, African Americans, LGBTQ and illegal immigrants, with Jews ... would they have allowed him this platform? Based on Mr. Tesei’s recent post-Pittsburgh statements, he stands with us? Does he stand with JUST us? Which one is it? Aren’t we one in the same?

When one speaks ill of Muslims, they speak ill of Jews.

When one speaks ill of African Americans, they speak ill of Jews.

We were all oppressed, slaughtered, and taunted. These cycles of targeted genocide were meant to teach us empathy. It is our job as humans to take a stand against those who use their platform to spread hateful views. I look at my children’s friends and see a rainbow of colors and lifestyle choices that will soon present themselves. It would be so devastating to know that not only did Greenwich leaders welcome those who have spoken and continue to speak ill of them, but they participated in what appears to be a calculated for-profit circus on public land, paid for by taxpayers. Where is their empathy for the oppressed?

In an email exchange between Mr. Camillo and myself, he explained the importance of forgiving Higbie for all of the horrible things he has said in the past. When one forgives, there must have been an apology? The correct apology is not just “I’m sorry” — it is “I am sorry and this is how I will make it right.” Mr. Higbie has never made it right. He constantly uses his platform for bullying.

I hope I have spread some light, and encouraged Mr. Tesei and Mr. Camillo to reconsider their position of engaging a hate-filled racist like Higbie. If someone is inspired by Higbie’s rhetoric, and acts on it — the above mentioned, well-intentioned “forgiveness” will be construed as complicity — and I would not want that for any of our leaders.

Marina Rosin Levine is a Greenwich resident and a founding member of Indivisible Greenwich.

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