An Anti-Semite for Congress?
New York City councilman Charles Barron is a defender of Qaddafi and Mugabe and a foe of Israel
If Barron is elected to Congress, he would surely be the House of Representatives’ only enthusiastic supporter of Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime in Zimbabwe. Despite its abysmal human-rights record and disastrous economy (the country abandoned its currency in 2009 due to hyperinflation), Zimbabwe is, according to Barron, “one of the most stable countries in Africa.” Along with a few of his acolytes, Barron went on a “fact-finding mission” to the country and later hosted a reception for Mugabe at City Hall. Criticism of his Potemkin trip to Harare, he barked to the New York Times, was motivated by racism. In 2008, the Times remarked that those angered by the City Hall reception for Mugabe were aware of the “third-rail potential of a racially sensitive issue, [and] acquiesced with their silence.”
Despite this spotless record of fanaticism, Barron has in the past managed high-profile endorsements from the liberal mainstream, like former Mayor David Dinkins and the New York Times editorial page. And this time around, he’s getting the support of the man he intends to replace, Towns. “We need to have someone that’s going to be involved in a direct fashion, none of this wishy-washy stuff,” Towns said at a press conference endorsing Barron. Amazingly, he has also snagged the endorsements of DC-37, New York City’s largest municipal public employee union, and AFSCME, one of the country’s largest labor unions and the biggest outside spender in the 2010 midterm elections.
Barron’s class-war rhetoric might have seduced organized labor, but New York’s 10th district is also home to one of the fastest gentrifying ZIP codes in America, which saw its white population jump from 19.7 percent in 2000 to almost 50 percent in 2010. This might pose a problem for a militant black nationalist like Barron, but in 2006, when he made his first, half-hearted run in the 10th district Democratic primary, Barron performed surprisingly well with what one analyst called “whites in brownstone Brooklyn.” This despite famously telling a crowd of sympathizers that he sometimes wanted to slap a white person, “just for my mental health.”
In his current campaign, Barron has been careful to downplay his support for dictators—he barely responded when, during a television debate, Jeffries joked that he “certainly can’t compete with Charles Barron for the pro-Qaddafi vote”—and thus far has largely avoided the subject of Israel. And he has all but ignored the stinging criticism of Jewish Democrats like Koch, Nadler, and Hikind, dismissing it as “a distraction, because my campaign is gaining momentum.”
Indeed, he is gaining momentum. And unless the forces of reason within the New York Democratic party can mobilize primary voters against him, Barron will be afforded the great opportunity to transform himself from local embarrassment to national disgrace.
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A prominent challenger to President Hugo Chávez isn’t Jewish, but his roots are. That’s enough for the regime.