New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino apologized late yesterday afternoon for remarks he'd made in Brooklyn over the weekend, remarks widely condemned as bigoted and menacing -- particularly after a recent string of gay teen suicides and the torturing of two young gay men in the Bronx.
"I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members," he wrote in an email sent out by his campaign. "Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong." To address any remaining ambiguity, Paladino clarified the extent of his opposition to discrimination against any group (a reassuring "100%"), as well as to hate crimes of any form (also "100%"). On the issue of gay marriage specifically, Paladino now claims simply to have "the same position on this issue as President Barrack Obama [sic]."
All welcome clarifications, but for one small thing: In his weekend speech, Paladino didn't just imply some ugly slanders about gay people or tacitly endorse hate crimes; he equated gay marriage with the Holocaust -- and, for good measure, with political violence against blacks in the Civil Rights-era South.
I've been accused of being an angry man. My opponent says an angry man is unqualified to be governor of New York State. Well, I beg to differ. There are some things in this world that we must all be angry about. During World War II, all decent people were angry at Hitler's extermination of six million Jews in the gas chambers of Aushwitz. During the days of the civil rights battle here in the United States, all decent people were angry at the brutal mistreatment of black people down south.
And the stinger at the end:
If you elect me as your next governor, you can depend on me to protect and defend your family from those who seek to tear down our values and bankrupt our citizens. And yes, I will veto all legislation that mocks our sacred institution of marriage and family. I will veto any gay marriage or civil union bill that comes to my desk. Yes I'm angry. Real angry at the way our politically correct elites are mistreating our innocent children, and I want to protect them and give them a real future in America, the greatest country on God's green Earth.
Here's that rhetorical trick again, sped up: There are transgressions against humanity that should elicit moral outrage in all of us: anti-Semitic genocide, racial violence, and gay marriage.
Thanks to Azi Paybarah at WNYC for the full transcript.
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J.J. Gould is the former editor of TheAtlantic.com.