Why I'm Voting For Charles Barron: Galvanized By MoveOn's Smear Campaign

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[Open Letter To MoveOn]

Greetings. I write to express my opposition to your recent email concerning the congressional race in the eighth Congressional district in Brooklyn, New York and to tell you why I will be voting for Charles Barron on June 26, and, hopefully, in November, notwithstanding my disagreements with his statements and actions referenced in your email.

I am a supporter of marriage equality. However, I also believe that it is issue about which reasonable people can disagree for religious as well as political reasons. Many of friends, including some of my LGBT friends, are not champions of marriage equality because they believe that it has distracted the LGBT movement from and took energy and resources away from more critical problems facing LGBT people such as funding for AIDS, the plight of homeless LGBT youth, transgender rights. Health care is a human right and should not be dependent on one’s marriage to a employed person with family health care benefits.

As for the other statements and actions by Charles Barron referenced in your email, although I do not entirely agree with him, I understand why he feels the way he does. Muammar Quadafi was one of the strongest supporters of the ANC as well as other African liberation movements in decades before their successful overthrow of colonialism.

And, while serious questions may exist as to the distribution of the land seized from White farmers in Zimbabwe, there is or should be no issue especially among progressives of as to the rightfulness and necessity of returning the land stolen from African people in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa during the period of colonialism being returned to African people. Finally, as for Charles alleged statement that the "biggest terrorist government in the world is the government of Israel” that title, in my opinion has long and still does belong to the United States.

I have lived in what is now the 8th Congressional district since 1977. When I purchased my home in the district in the early 1980s, the block that it was on was in “Bedford-Stuyvesant” and the overwhelming majority of the people residing on it were people of African descent. Today, although I still live in the same house on the same block. I now live in “Clinton Hill” and the majority of the people on my block are White. The people of African descent who disappeared from my block in recent years did not all die or migrate back to the South or the Caribbean, although some of them did. Rather, they were forced out by the rising cost of homes and rents occasioned by White flight to Fort Green, Clinton Hill and increasingly Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Noticeably your email said nothing about the displacement of people of African descent as well Latinos, working class and poor people from Congressional district eight. In addition, it did not mention the other issues facing residents of the district such as homelessness, underemployment, unemployment, poverty, and the high number of unlawful stop and frisks of Black and Latino youth.

Nor did it mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have resulted in the deaths and serious injury of thousands of United States military members, and an un-totaled number of Iraqi, Afghanistan, and increasingly Pakistani men, women and children and drained billions of dollars from the United States economy that should have been spent and are needed here. These, I believe, are the most important issues facing the residents of 8th Congressional district in Brooklyn.

I am voting for Charles Barron on June 26 because he has been one of the most consistent champions for affordable housing, jobs, health care, public education (from pre-school to graduate school) as well as an outspoken critic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Charles is one of a few elected officials York City who has consistently opposed the Atlantic Yards project, another issue of great importance to many, including myself, in the eighth Congressional district.

Over the years, I have attended many marches and rallies on the aforementioned issues where I have seen or heard Barron speak. I have nothing against Hakeen Jeffries, his major opponent. However, I have rarely seen or heard him at these marches and rallies. I recently saw Jefferies at the “Silent Anti-Stop and Frisk March"; however he was not at the rally against Atlantic Yards the week before.

In short, on balance, I believe that Charles is the candidate who most passionately represent and fight for the issues and concerns of the residents of the eighth Congressional district.

The smear campaign waged by MoveOn and others against Charles was deeply offensive to me. Hopefully, it will have a reverse effect from what you intended and will galvanize Charles’ supporters to vote on June 26th . It certainly galvanized me.

Joan P. Gibbs is a long-time activist and attorney who resides and works in Central Brooklyn. The opinions expressed in this letter are her own and not those of her employer or any of the organizations that she is a member of or affiliated with.

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