Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wow, (some) Staten Islanders are racist

So back in November, Staten Island elected their first black politician to public office -- which is nice. It's just the kind of thing that could bring the boro up 1980s-era equality.

Her tenure in the city council has been brief, and her policies, so far, have not been clear. But one thing about Debi Rose has become undeniable and unavoidable: she has shown that Staten Island is full of racists.

Now, we can argue about how prevalent these racists are, and if it's fair to use them as a sampling of Staten Island opinion. But the fact is, racist Staten Islanders are using every opportunity to voice their hatred and ignorance on the comment threads of SILive every time her name comes up in the news.

(On a side note: we are almost positive these people don't live in her district of the North Shore, which is pretty diverse -- so their opinions are really meaningless.)

Before we dive into the minutiae, we need to ask: why is the local paper's website letting this nonsense go on? Is the ad revenue they get from these racists diatribes really worth making Staten Island look like 1950s Alabama?

Notice how the commenter conflates a Staten Island city councilwoman with the President of the United States. They're both black and, according to this guy, part of some Communist conspiracy to give lazy people free handouts. One thing we have to give this guy credit for: at least he does admits to being a racist (sort of).

Wait, the rest of NYC is a cesspool?

A common theme in these threads is that minorities are "lazy" and get all sorts of "handouts" from the government -- handouts that us "white people" fund through our tax dollars. And Councilwoman Rose, I guess because she is black, by default feeds this paranoid theory of theirs.

The comments go on, and on. There are 102 of them. Not all are racist but the majority against Debi Rose contain a vitriol which is uncalled for and display a seething hatred that exists on Staten Island but only rears its ugly head in people's living rooms.

Just awful:

There's no point in arguing with these people. A hatred that runs this deep can not be negotiated with. But an observation is warranted.

What does this tell us about Staten Island, if anything? And what could be done about it?

(update: here is the offending article as per PB's request.)


  1. Why are so many political pundits bereft of logic. Citing a trait of one or even more than few examples of a large population as a means to prove that this trait is characteristic of the entire population is fallacious and is known as an hasty generalization.

    If anyone is racist on Staten Island it is the Democratic Party, because it has run far fewer female and minority candidates for office as the Republican Party has on Staten Island.

  2. Far fewer female candidates? What about Betty Connelly, Diane Savino, Janele Hyer-Spencer, Rosemarie Mangano Cavanagh, Katina Johnstone, Libby Hikind, Janey Moran, Mary Codd, Barbara Panepinto, Judy McMahon, Kim Dollard, Janine Materna and yes, Debi Rose too.

    When was the last time the Republicans have run a female or minority candidate for a seat on the island that they had a real chance of winning?

    In the last congressional race instead of Bob Straniere? No, so those Republicans who wouldn't support him went toward McMahon or Morano.

    In the South Shore after Lanza won Marchi's seat? No, they prefer to play musical chairs and ran Ignizio, who had JUST been re-elected to the assembly. They preferred to spend more taxpayer money for yet another special election for his Assembly seat when he won the special for the Council.

    And when was the last time the Republican party on Staten Island ran a candidate who was openly gay? Or showed up to the Staten Island Pride Parade?

    Out of the current elected officials on Staten Island, take a look at the breakdown:

    Democrats: Debi Rose, Diane Savino, Matthew Titone, Janele Hyer-Spencer, Michael Cusick, Michael McMahon.

    Republicans: James Oddo, Vincent Ignizio, Andrew Lanza, Lou Tobacco, Dan Donovan, James Molinaro (even thought he's a Conservative, he's won with the Rep. line)

    Dems have 1/2 female and one openly gay.
    Reps have a bunch of middle-aged straight white guys.

  3. The comments for every silive article are always depressing.

  4. SI Live needs moderators for their forums. They also need to make people post under one user name. It is very depressing to read the comments.

  5. "Why are so many political pundits bereft of logic. Citing a trait of one or even more than few examples of a large population as a means to prove that this trait is characteristic of the entire population is fallacious and is known as an hasty generalization."

    I'm not entirely sure if this is directed at Joe or the racist commenters on SILive. If it's the former, it sure is hilarious.

    "If anyone is racist on Staten Island it is the Democratic Party, because it has run far fewer female and minority candidates for office as the Republican Party has on Staten Island."

    I love when people don't understand the difference between racism and sexism or any other kind of prejudice. "You're racist against transit workers!" Always makes me laugh.

    Joe, as a matter of blogging etiquette, you should really have linked the original article which inspired all the comments you're quoting. I would have like to have seen what exactly Debi Rose did to inspire such vitriol. I'm assuming nothing other than being black, female and a democrat but I would like to know the catalyst.

  6. PB: the post has been updated with the offending piece, which i think is about how she is voting with the liberal caucus or something - but it's besides the point.
    The fact is people make racist comments on this site all the time, no matter what the subject matter may be.

    to the first two anons: this is not about a contest about which party is more diverse on SI. in fact, as "April 2, 2010 2:54 PM" pointed out there isn't really a contest:

    "Democrats: Debi Rose, Diane Savino, Matthew Titone, Janele Hyer-Spencer, Michael Cusick, Michael McMahon."

    game, set, match. there's really nothing else to say on that point.

    - not voting for an African-American is one thing.

    - saying that an African American politician is an "ugly low life" who reminds you of "Mr. Ed"?? now that is flat-out racism, no way around it. take a good look in the mirror SI.

  7. Yes, hopefully you and Debi will be taking the African American community to task over the bias attack committed by blacks upon Latinos, they way you seem determined to do with the largely white community as whole. LOL, I won't be holding my breath though, because liberal outrage over racism usually ends at the border of every black neighborhood.

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