Humanity, Which Way, Buffalo? Michael Hill
During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, a cultural war emerged with the battle line drawn by white supremacist organizations, led by Donald Trump. The Alt Right “movement” of supremacists and Trump supporters line up on the side of identity politics. While People of Color, Muslims, Mexicans, and LGBT and anyone organizing, advocating or fighting for freedom, truth and justice are the enemies of supremacists.
The cultural conflict, a war of a psychological nature, echoes from European colonization, enslavement of Africans, genocide against Native people and southern white supremacy violence of the post-reconstruction era.
Education is the battle field in the cultural war occurring in Buffalo N.Y. The battle engages the Buffalo Public Schools, New York State Education Department, City Hall and the hearts and minds of adults and children. The request by the Buffalo Board of Education, to the State Education Commissioner, for the removal of Carl Paladino from the Board is a response to the offensive and harmful aggression of the white male supremacy mentality.
Mr. Paladino’s harmful and abusive statements, were reported nationally and internationally. A Trump advisor and New York State Republican Party leader, Paladino has a history of bullying and intimidating behavior. His 2017 New Year Wishes, published in a local weekly were, death by mad cow disease for President Obama; and a degrading, dehumanizing characterization of Michelle Obama going back to live with gorillas. Beyond perpetuating a lie of the First Lady being a transgender man, he projects the slavery justifying sub-human African monkey stereotype found in racist, KKK and American Nazi publications.
His statement negates his role as a public official, and education leader. It brings into explosive view a conflict in human values within Mr. Paladino and within the Buffalo community. The published statement put the citizens of Buffalo, the city government, Board of Education, State Education Department, and the Mayor front and center to demonstrate leadership and the true character of our humanity.
As a public official, representing citizens in one of nine districts of the Buffalo Public Schools; Mr. Paladino has demonstrated a moral, educational and professional incompetence. By his conduct, Paladino demonstrated a purposeful intent to make public display of depraved ideas that would warrant a teacher’s removal from the classroom or principal from management of a school.
The recent City Hall demonstration, a mobilization of women for the protection of our children and the well being of the community is the frontline of organizing people of good conscious to confront and remove a white supremacist bully from the Buffalo Board of Education. The question remains, will the school yard bully be held accountable for his actions?
The Mayor calling the demonstration “a side show”, reminds me of a lesson from the School of Common Sense, that Brother Simba (MHRIP) often spoke – “our greatest affliction is our contradiction”. In that regard, the Mayor is a “no show on leadership”. His statement that Paladino should resign offers nothing since Paladino has chosen not to.
There’s no free lunch and there’s no free speech. Everyone is accountable for the effect of their behavior. Speech is behavior. Mr. Paladino has spoken freely. He has taken responsibility, but refuses to be accountable for the harm he has done. One cannot yell fire in a dark theater full of patrons, or verbally incite violence against others, or slander people with impunity.
First Amendment protection, does not permit harm, intent to cause harm, nor supersede professional standards, ethics, policies and regulations intended to protect children and the public interest. The idea that Paladino’s statements are free speech, and his removal from the Board would be an unconstitutional infringement of his rights, is a superficial interpretation of the 1st Amendment. Determining Paladino’s failure to meet professional, moral and ethical responsibility and standards is the basis for removal.
A teacher is not expected to stand by while one student verbally attacks another. They are expected to recognize and immediately handle the harm being done and nip in the bud the potential for greater bullying, greater harm. It is a professional standard of performance, a moral and ethical obligation. If a teacher, had made the same statement as Paladino, most parents I know would immediately demand the removal of the teacher. Many would immediately remove.
The demand for Paladino’s removal is a demand for justice based on his intentional and purposeful statements which he knew were disrespectful, hurtful, and would offend African Americans specifically, provoke hostility, inflame emotions, and racial discord. He has engaged in a pattern of bullying and intimidation of Board Members, Interim Superintendent, Board Staff and others.
Mr. Paladino knew that his racist “Wish List” would have the effect of destabilizing and undermining the capacity of the Board to effectively operate. As a public servant he has failed to meet the professional standards and fulfill the duty of an education leader. I’m sure after his removal, Paladino will continue to speak freely.