Hawkins Calls on New Yorkers to Reject Bigotry of Carl Paladino

Carl Paladino's statements yesterday against homosexuals is just the most recent example of his bigotry, racism, sexism, zenophobia, and general mean spirit.

Paladino's attacks may mobilize a small segment of the voters who believe their economic and social problems are the fault of struggling minority groups instead of the corporate elites with the real wealth and power. But the vast majority of New Yorkers have been targeted for insults by Paladino. If they find out what he thinks of them, Paladino will be lucky to come in third or fourth this election.

Mr. Paladino personifies the New Republicans who have reverted to the politics of the old Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s and 1850s. Their politics of fear and division scapegoated Catholics and immigrants. Today's Republicans target Muslims instead of Catholics and people of color, gays, and Latino immigrants instead of Irish and German immigrants.

I grew up in a Republican household. But my family was Republican because the party stood for the abolitionist and civil rights legacy symbolized by Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, Thadeus Stevens, and Charles Sumner, the populism of Walter Gresham (whose last name is my middle name), the progressivism of Robert LaFollette, and the limited government, fiscal responsiblity, and non-interventionism shared by Republicans as conservative as Robert Taft and as liberal as Thomas Dewey. Today's Republican Party is the party of domestic spying, state interference in personal life, and deficit financing of foreign wars of occupation. My relatives have all left the Republicans to become independents.

I stand for a New York that embraces the value of every individual, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin. We should be proud that New York has always been a melting pot. New York's diversity is the source of its dynamism and many contributions to social progress.