Paladino's Rabbi

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This is a really solid piece by Nicholas Confessore on how Carl Paladino came to deliver his homophobic rant over the weekend. What I really appreciate is how Confessore breaks down the Hasidic community in Brooklyn and puts Rabbi Yehuda Levin (Paladino's bigoted ally) in context:


Like Mr. Paladino, Mr. Levin, 56, plays on the margins of traditional power structures. His synagogue, the Kehilas Mevakshai Hashem, has roughly two dozen members, far fewer than the thousands of adherents commanded by the large Hasidic sects that dominate Orthodox politics in Brooklyn, each under the dominion of a grand rebbe, or rabbi. He is based in Midwood, rather than the Hasidic strongholds of Williamsburg and Borough Park. 

 In fact, Mr. Levin is not, strictly speaking, a Hasid, though he wears the familiar black hat and coat of those who are. "I'm the next closest thing to Hasidic," Mr. Levin said, "an amalgam of right-wing yeshivish and Hasidic." 

What Mr. Levin did have was a pure devotion to conservative politics unmatched by more prominent Orthodox rabbis, many of whom preach traditional values in shul but are highly pragmatic when it comes to picking politicians to endorse, backing winners and those most likely to deliver resources to their communities.

I'm out of my waters, so I'm not sure how contentious debates around homosexuality have been among Orthodox Jews. Perhaps there was room to cast a wider net, but in my experience, unless the reporter really knows the terrain, trouble is an easy find.  I think it would have been really easy, based on this incident and standard "trend-piece" thinking, to do a much less-nuanced piece.

Or maybe not. I think on my side of the tracks, a lot of this comes down to the fact that black people are the most segregated minority in the country. When there's that kind of distance, even to the fair-minded, sweeping logic comes easy. For the first 18 years of my life, most of the Asian-Americans I had contact with were local merchants. Some of the shit I left Baltimore with is just embarrassing. 

On a slightly unrelated note, I saw Paladino with Matt Lauer yesterday claim that the gay pride parades were "disgusting." I still can't get over the fact that this the same dude who sent out images of a woman fucking a horse. How does this dude look at himself in the mirror?
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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