Worst Editorial of the Week: Bergen Record Chastises Teaneck Politicos

"Behave children," say the editors of the Bergen Record to the local politicians of Teaneck, NJ.

Huh? The election is over. Two out of three Team Teaneck candidates, sponsored by the Orthodox, lost. Ironically, the reactionary religious right wingers of West Englewood managed to get a Muslim elected to the council, and to save face they greeted him at a Men's club kiddush in shul this past shabbos.

That irony and indeed the whole dynamic of which group has won and lost power in the town is of no interest to the Record. The editors also don't care about the policy ramifications of the election for taxes and schools in the municipality.

They just focus in on some stupid remarks made during the campaign.

It is over. The rhetorical transgressor won. The victims of the gaffes lost. The reason the winners won and the losers lost was not because of the dumb comments.

It was simple. The winners were better politicians. They had better messages and organizations. They had more friends and cronies. They got more votes.

Let's get past the sideshows of name calling and gaffes and back to issues-politics.

And when we do, liberals and progressives win all the time. That's because they have policies and politics that benefit more people, that appeal to more citizens, that attract more votes.

That's what the good people of our town, our state and our nations are thirsting for.

So here is the dumbest editorial of the week, which says none of the above.
Editorial: Glad overheated campaign season is over

HOW IS a municipal election in northern New Jersey related to execution and genocide?

If your answer was anything other than “It’s not,” you probably just finished running for the Teaneck Township Council.

Teaneck’s campaign season ended with Tuesday’s municipal election, but not before its racially charged recriminations overreached to encompass national and world events.

The week before the election, Councilwoman Monica Honis (since reelected) marked the race’s low point. She told residents — apparently without any intentional irony — that reelecting her but not her running mates would be tantamount to sending her “to the gas chamber.”

Honis’ opponent, Councilman Elnatan Rudolph, eagerly laid into her. Rudolph (since deposed) called the analogy “deplorable” given the association between lethal gas and Nazi death camps, especially “in the same week as Holocaust Remembrance Day.” (Rudolph is Jewish; Honis is black.)

Although Holocaust Remembrance Day was the week before, gratuitous references to the Holocaust can safely be deemed offensive any week of the year. Despite the potential for political motives in Rudolph’s strenuous objections, a cross section of local Jewish politicians (including one of Honis’ running mates) agreed that the words were at best poorly chosen, though probably by accident.

The irrepressible Honis disagreed. To the contrary, she said, her words were chosen “very carefully” — to refer to a tragedy of her own people. “I was referring to the death penalty,” she told The Record’s Joseph Ax. “The death penalty disproportionately affects minorities. I’m making a statement on how it feels to be sitting up here with the people I sit with.”

Another council candidate, Howard Rose, helpfully suggested that to eliminate confusion as to which difficult subject she was raising, Honis might have said, “I’d rather be in an electric chair.”

Rose’s conciliatory approach was most welcome in this environment, but it yielded an absurd result. The real problem here, of course, is not the method of execution. It’s that execution entered into the Teaneck Council contest at all.

No Teaneck election result or local government experience invites comparison with any number of people being deprived of their lives. Nor should any historic atrocity or national controversy be reduced to a tiny cudgel to be used in the township’s petty political struggles.

Some of Teaneck’s politicians seem determined to have a contest as to which is more aggrieved individually or as a group. But the town’s diverse population and its elections should not be treated as opportunities to take conspicuous umbrage. At this campaign, Teaneck’s voters have a right to be offended.

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