The Rise of a New York City Demagogue
An anti-Semitic radical may win an open congressional seat.

Charles Barron, a city councilman of New York


In 2002, at a rally to call for slavery reparations, he said, “You know, some days I get so frustrated I just want to go up to the closest white person and say, ‘You can’t understand this, it’s a black thing,’ and then slap him, just for my mental health.” After the Sean Bell shooting in 2006, Barron threatened that “if we don’t get an indictment, there’s going to be an explosion. We’re not the only ones who can bleed. Maybe the rest of us need to get a shot off.”

Barron might be the only person on earth outside of Moammar Qaddafi’s immediate family who misses the former Libyan dictator: “[Americans], they don’t know that Qaddafi was our brother. People say ‘Didn’t he kill all those people?’ I say, ‘I don’t know anything. The man was a freedom fighter.’”

On Monday, June 11, a collection of Jewish New York Democrats called a press conference to denounce Barron’s candidacy. U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler said that Barron’s “support of dictators and terrorists . . . and support for delegitimizing Israel and comparing Israelis to Nazis is dangerous and abhorrent rhetoric that makes him unfit to serve in Congress.” Former New York mayor Ed Koch was blunter: “Charles Barron is — he can be very charming, but so can a snake. We have learned to live together in this city despite our different backgrounds, and his vile, vicious assailing of Israel is simply not acceptable.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization dedicated to protecting the human rights of Jews across the world, raises a key question regarding the ascension of Charles Barron: “Why has not the rest of the political community — right or left, Democrat or Republican, across the board, and not just the Jews — condemned this figure? The fact that any candidate with these views can get this far in the process is, to say the least, quite troubling.”

Where is the Congressional Black Caucus’s condemnation of Charles Barron as unrepresentative of their views? Why have the unions endorsed him despite his hateful rhetoric? Where is the Democratic-party leadership’s disavowal? If Barron wins his primary on June 26, he will most likely win the general election for this safe Democratic seat. It would be a disgraceful moment.

— Nathaniel Botwinick is an editorial intern at National Review Online.