Darien, CT has a white supremacy problem.
Last week, one of their Republican candidates for school board, David Brown, flashed a known white supremacist hand signal for the duration of his closing remarks. The Darien Democratic Town Council (DTC) shared a screenshot of the gesture, and state Senate Majority Leader, Bob Duff (D) retweeted it, asking if he meant to flash a "white power" signal.
Who caught the heat for this? You guessed it. Democrats. Both the DTC and Duff deleted their tweets, and it's the racist GOP who feel they're owed an apology - something they're demanding. Even worse, though, Darien's chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) — allegedly a non-partisan organization — joined the chorus of outrage, and harshly rebuked the Democrats for daring to accuse Brown of racism, and allegedly breaching the terms of video use signed by the candidates.
Predictably, Darien's Republican Town Council (RTC) crowed about the LWV's letter, posting it on their Instagram page for all to see.
Darien's RTC wrote by way of introduction:
On Saturday October 9, the Darien Republican Town Committee obtained a copy of the attached letter, issued by the three organizers of the League of Women Voters Candidates’ Night (held on October 6, 2021) and addressed to David Bayne, Chairman of the Darien Democratic Town Committee.
As this letter is in the public interest, we felt compelled to make it known to the public.
We applaud these women for trying to defend the integrity of the League of Women Voters, its Candidates’ Night and an innocent man. We applaud them for holding true to their organization’s motto: “Politics is not a spectator sport.”
We demand that the Darien Democratic Town Committee - and State Senator Bob Duff - issue an immediate and formal apology to Mr. Brown and his family. We insist they make it public and searchable online, in order to repair the unjust damage done to his reputation.
An "innocent man." Repair the "unjust damage done to his reputation." Please.
Here's the letter which enabled Darien's RTC to gloat, as if so righteously vindicated.
Notice the things about which the LWV are screaming their heads off. I'll take them individually.
1. "Breach of LWV video policy," and more specifically, that "[u]se of a screenshot of Candidates' Night for any political purpose is contrary to the League policy and undermines the integrity of the event." Exactly what does the LWV think the purpose of their Candidates' Night is, if not political? They streamed and posted the event on Youtube. Anyone on the internet has access to this video, and now, because I've clipped the 30-second closing statement, can view it here. Is their outrage truly over the alleged breach in video policy, or is it over the fact that someone used their video to expose one of their candidates as having held his hand in the "white power" position for the entirety of his closing statement?
Where is their outrage that a candidate held his hand in the "white power" signal for thirty full seconds?
2. Darien's LWV chapter purports to be taking a stand because of alleged "harm done" to David Brown and his reputation. The letter howls about Brown being "maligned," suffering from "negative publicity," and the victim of "character assassination." The penultimate sentence reads, "This man will have to live with these allegations for a long time."
Gee, you know how this could have been avoided? He could have not made the hand signal. Or, once done, could have apologized if he truly did not realize the harm caused by his own actions, and promise to learn from his mistake. So simple! All of that could have (and still could!) protect Brown from the horrible fate about which the LWV is so deeply concerned.
And again, I have to ask, why are they so viscerally, fiercely protective of David Brown instead of the targets of white supremacist hate signaling?
3. The LWV is deeply motivated to preserve their integrity. ALLEGEDLY. Or, that is the cover they are using to express their hurt feelings at one of their own (by "own," I mean conservative, white, racists) being called out on their use of a hate signal at an event they sponsored. The letter speaks at length about agreements signed and executed, and video policies breached.
My question to the LWV (whom I've tried to reach several times, several ways) is, do they have a policy against hate speech, verbal or non-verbal, during the forums they sponsor? If not, why not? If so, why is David Brown not the subject of their outrage, but of their protection?
Darien LWV's letter says they'd planned to release a "formal statement" last Monday, Oct. 11. As far as I could find, they did not do so. Regardless, they should answer the questions I pose above, in addition to clarifying whether or not they are still demanding a public, searchable apology from the Darien DTC and Sen. Bob Duff.
On Tuesday, October 12, Darien had a regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting take place, during which public comment was invited. Students, teachers, and parents had their say. The video above is a compilation of three short segments from that meeting.
In the first clip, David Dineen, School Board Chair, talks about how difficult the last few weeks have been for the community, what with hate crimes happening in the high school, and one of their candidates signaling white supremacy. (I maybe am paraphrasing a little.) He's outlining all the super-effective strategies they're putting into place, then blows it all up by saying, "At this point, the constant question of 'How did we get here?' is OVER. We don't need to talk about it anymore."
Um...the question of how we got here is VERY MUCH not over. We very much DO need to talk about it. How does one do better if one does not acknowledge and learn from the past mistakes? How does society move forward if it doesn't atone for its historical sins in any genuine way? How does one grow if there is no requirement to take responsibility?
Don't take my word for it. Listen to the student in the next segment, whose tender soul is being slowly crushed by the cruelty of the kids, and inaction of adults around her.
And listen to the adult in the final segment, who refused to accede to Dineen's directive. She reminded everyone that Darien used to be a Sundown Town, and is still a "Caucasian bubble." She asked ALL the questions directly to David Brown about what the hell he meant by his hand position last week. What was he doing? Why was he doing it? If it was a mistake, why didn't he apologize and do better? Why, Why Why? Here's what Justine Stewart had to say.
"Mr. Brown, I genuinely hope your gestures last week were unintentional, and that you fold your arms in an unfortunate way. Because there has been zero clarification, other than that you're angry that people caught this gesture. It crosses one's mind that you may have actually meant to send a dog whistle to any racists in Darien. After the incident, children in the community were gaslighted by adults as they expressed their concerns over the unexplained gesture. You have to understand that you hold power over these children as a Board of Ed member. It is of their concern, because you are in charge of the decisions of their lives. This is not about how it was captured. It is about making it right....Mr. Brown, it's time that you need to make a statement to this community, and to the children that are living in fear, here, as to what the intent in that was.
Might Brown make a statement? I won't find out from the Darien Republicans Instagram page. They blocked me after I called them on deleting any comments critical of their circling the wagons around David Brown.