Readers Write: Martins mimics Trump on Charlottesville

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As I write this letter, it is only one day after a white supremacist ran down 20 pedestrians in Charlottesville, Va., killing one and injuring 19. 

This was at the “Unite the Right” rally, which attracted hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, who got into violent clashes with counter protesters.

Donald Trump, as usual, refused to point his finger directly at these goose-stepping monsters, claiming in a televised statement that “many sides” displayed “hatred, bigotry and violence” at the rally. 

He refused to use the term “white supremacist,” leaving it to apologists, like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to state that, of course he meant to condemn them.

Well, leave it to GOP candidate for Nassau County executive, Jack Martins, to get on board the Trump train and get in a wink to the white supremacists and other bigots he hopes will show up to the voting booth in November to put him over the top.

The same day violence broke out at the rally (and just one hour after the vehicular murder), Martins posted the following on his campaign’s Facebook page.

“There’s no place for racism or bigotry, Period.  Our thoughts & prayers are w/ #Charlottesville.  Violence is not the answer.”

Now, just like Trump, Martins failed to call out white supremacists by name, but I’m not going to split hairs. 

What bothers me more is how he ended the post.  “Violence is not the answer.”  Just whom was he addressing this advice to?

If he were addressing this advice to the white supremacists, then he would essentially be saying that their cause or complaints had merit and they should go about spreading their hateful rhetoric in a more peaceful way.

If, on the other hand, he were addressing this advice to the counter protesters, he would basically be laying the blame for these violent clashes at their feet. 

Did the counter protesters force that man to get into his car and mow down 20 people, Jack?

Of course, Martins is no stranger to white-supremacist dog whistles, having spent the last several weeks painting Nassau County as a bleak hellscape, overrun with drug dealers, gang bangers and child molesters (all undocumented immigrants, of course).

You can imagine Trump’s campaign announcement playing in the background as Martins and his staff settled on this as the overriding theme of the campaign.  (“They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime.  They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people.”)

And, according to Martins, anyone who dares challenge his false assessment of the state of the county or call him out for his wholesale demonization of undocumented immigrants is a left-wing radical, intent on the destruction of life as we know it. 

Sound familiar?

Of course, xenophobic rhetoric is not the only tool in Martins’ bag of dirty tricks. 

Take his campaign slogan, for instance (“Honest Leadership”). 

Martins has made a big deal about how he (unsuccessfully) demanded Ed Mangano’s resignation and that he won’t stand for “business as usual.”

Well, if that’s so, then why is one of the co-hosts of an official fundraiser Martins scheduled for Aug. 23 Brian Nevin? 

For those who have never heard the name, Nevin was a top aide to Ed Mangano, earning $163,000 a year, until last month, when the Oyster Bay Town Board offered him a non-competitive position as a public information officer for (you guessed it) $163,000.

At the time, Republican Councilman Anthony Macagnone pointed out that Nevin did not live in Oyster Bay and that contracting out social media and other duties to a private company would be more cost effective than paying a single individual $163,000 per year.

The rest of the board ignored Macagnone’s objections, claiming that Nevin would bring greater transparency to the town and save it money by doing a wide array of duties not limited to public information.  (If you believe that one, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.) 

In the end, Macagnone was the lone vote against Nevin’s appointment.

Martins must have a low opinion of Nassau County residents if he thinks he can cavort with members of the corrupt Republican machine, like Nevin, and still claim that he’s a reformer. 

He’s not even trying to hide it; he included Nevin’s name in the official fundraising announcement on his campaign’s Facebook page.

It’s also interesting to note that the public opinion poll Martins’ campaign was bragging about earlier this month, which showed him 8 points ahead of likely Democratic opponent Laura Curran, was performed by Clout Research.

Clout Research is run, in part, by Fritz Wenzel, a man who has, for many years, made a living conducting polls for politicians and media outlets on the right. 

Mr. Wenzel’s polling companies are notorious for using biased questions and other methods to get their clients the results they want.

In fact, (not) coincidentally, a poll Clout Research conducted for Martins during his failed congressional run last year provided him with much more favorable numbers than any independently conducted poll.

I was impressed to see that one of your reporters, Noah Manskar, pointed out many of these facts about Clout Research in an article about the poll posted to your website on Aug. 11.

I’d suggest that your readers give it a look, if they haven’t already.

So, there you have it.  If you want a Nassau County executive as xenophobic, dishonest and corrupt as Trump, by all means, vote for Martins this November. 

If he wins, he’ll make Mangano look like a boy scout.

However, if you actually want a competent, principled reformer, vote for Laura Curran in both the Democratic primary on Sept. 12 and the general election on Nov. 7.

Matthew Zeidman

New Hyde Park

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