By Barry Sugar
On April 2nd, our elected representative chose to spew a rant aimed at dividing the community she is elected to serve.
Sadly, it is easy to believe Assemblywoman Diana Richardson spoke the exact words she is quoted as saying. As the New York Post reported, she asked for recording equipment to be turned off before speaking at the meeting in question. Clearly, she knew her remarks could be hurtful.
As for the two-week-late denial she issued? Ms. Richardson is a politician who said what politicians say when caught making racist statements. Voters can interpret her words any way they wish.
What is most important—critically and urgently important—is that members of the Jewish community scurried to support her denial with so little regard for the potential impact of their actions.
According to the Post, Ms. Richardson spent as long as 50 minutes (!) ranting against “whites and Jews,” including snidely referring to senator Simcha Felder as “the Jewish senator.”
The assemblywoman did not at first deny blaming Jews and whites for troubles that residents of all backgrounds face. Only after repeated pressure did she finally deny using the exact phrase attributed to her.
Bizarrely, her statement quotes two token members of the Jewish community who buy her denial, vouch for her character and hand her a free pass to wave at us any time she’d like.
Did those who present as community spokespeople speak up with concern when her offensive rant was first reported? No.
Did community liaisons challenge her attitude and insist that only her future actions can prove her remorse? No.
Did they explain that hundreds of Jewish families are just-as harshly impacted by the cost of housing and services she casually blames on our people? No.
The city’s third-largest paper had no problem running a story on Ms. Richardson’s alarming worldview. Could our own brothers muster no more than sheepish acceptance of her calculated denial?
From the unanimous tone of the comments on this site and from conversations across the Jewish community, I say confidently: we do not accept any form of race-baiting or labeling from our representatives.
If those with influence can hold Ms. Richardson—and all elected officials—accountable to sincerely change, they will avoid being played as her pawns in the future.