A Persistent Insanity Infects a Local Election

In the latest twist in the bizarre story of bizarre New York City Council candidate Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a fundraising “GoFundMe” webpage with a photograph of the rabidly anti-Semitic rabble-rouser obscured by a large “X” and asking donors to stop him garnered several thousand dollars in donations.

Mr. Lopez-Pierre then proceeded to claim that this page was his own invention, constituting a fraud of which the venom-spewing would-be councilmember seemed proud.

A day later, Lopez-Pierre admitted that too was a lie.

“Yes, I lied,” the unbalanced candidate readily admitted about the GoFundMe campaign. His exposition was as deranged as his rhetoric. “My intention,” he explained, “was to cause dissension in the ranks, confusion and discourage people from contributing to a campaign, a Go Fund Me campaign that would basically work against my political interests.”

Oh.

After dropping out of an earlier City Council race and losing two races for low-level Democratic Party offices, Mr. Lopez-Pierre insisted this year that he was “starting fresh.” Fresh never smelled so bad.

As reported by Hamodia last week, Lopez-Pierre, who has a history of offensiveness, has been ranting anew about “greedy Jewish landlords” who he claims are driving longtime residents out of gentrifying uptown neighborhoods. He told this paper that, in his black and Latino community, Jewish landlords are “despised,” and comparable to “builders of concentration camps.” He accuses the incumbent he hopes to replace, Councilman Mark Levine, of being “hypocritical” for accepting campaign funds from them.

“Greedy Landlords and NYC Council Member Mark Levine are working together to push Black and Hispanic tenants out of Harlem!” wrote Lopez-Pierre, and he pointed out that Levine was “the only Jewish person in the race” four years ago when he was first elected to his seat.

Of the $235,000 Levine has raised so far for his reelection bid, all of $12,000 has come from people involved in the real estate industry. The incumbent, moreover, has been active on the issue of bad landlords, and helped pass legislation to provide lawyers for tenants facing eviction in housing court.

City officials have rightly voiced outrage at Lopez-Pierre’s ugly antics. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Controller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Rep. Jerry Nadler and others demanded that Lopez-Pierre apologize for and cease his Jew-baiting.

“Such rhetoric has no place in our society, and certainly does not belong in a political campaign… Your reference to your opponent as the ‘only Jewish candidate in the race’ and frequent depiction of him in religious garb amount to gratuitous targeting of him based on religion.”

The group also launched a petition asking New Yorkers to register their opposition to Lopez-Pierre.

Councilman David Greenfield wants Lopez-Pierre kicked out of the party altogether. Manhattan Democratic Party committee chairman Keith Wright said that, while he condemned Lopez-Pierre and that he’d look at the request, he didn’t know if it was possible.

“I just don’t know what the mechanism would be like in terms of removing him … I don’t know what’s protected by free speech. That’s something for lawyers to look at.”

The “mechanism,” however, is straightforward. As Mr. Greenfield noted in a letter to Mr. Wright, New York election law permits removal for “disloyalty to the party.” If the Democratic Party disavows Jew-hatred, as we must assume, Lopez-Pierre stands in stark disloyalty to its ideals.

In his campaign biography, Lopez-Pierre said he’s a Christian “saved by G-d’s grace.” When asked if “grace should keep you from lying in such a flagrant way,” he responded, “I’m a sinner.” He certainly got that right.

It is easy to dismiss someone like Lopez-Pierre as a two-bit, would-be demagogue without a chance. But, as Cheryl Pahaham, who ran for City Council in a district just north of Lopez-Pierre’s in 2013, notes, “he has a support base… You may not realize it, but he has people who vote.”

And in fact, however miniscule the hater’s chances of election, his sentiments, unfortunately, resonate with others who share with him an insanity that persists through the ages. Whatever the facts may be, “the Jews” are really running things, are enriching themselves at the expense of others, must be stopped by a strong, determined leader…

As Lopez-Pierre himself bragged hopefully: “I’m going to be unstoppable. Because my message is powerful.”

His message is, in fact, powerful, energized as it always has been by the enduring evil of hatred and scapegoating of Jews. As to unstoppable, well, that will depend on the sanity and sensibility of party leaders and voters.