The article attacking House Speaker Sal DiMasi by David S. Bernstein was offensive character assassination based on ethnic stereotyping and cute political correctness. The Phoenix owes an apology to DiMasi, and to its readers. Comparing the Speaker to a “Godfather” and a “leg breaker” is disgusting and unacceptable. Using ethnic slurs against blacks, Jews, Italians, gays, et al. is indicative of a writer who hasn’t got an intellectual basis for his argument. Even if you sanctimoniously characterize the labels as “unfortunate” and attribute the slurs to unnamed “sources,” it does not make the slander acceptable.
On the supposed “merits” of his attack:
Transportation bonds: Bernstein criticizes DiMasi for the expeditious passage of the transportation-bond bill, needed to inject jobs into a tenuous economy, without allowing for pork-barrel earmarks (on a bill that had already gone through both the House and Senate debate). Would Bernstein prefer that Governor Patrick’s transportation/jobs initiative be bogged down in legislative gridlock long enough to miss the construction season, so that unnamed lobbyists could have more time to advocate special projects?
Gay marriage: Bernstein criticizes DiMasi for not urging members to block a vote on gay marriage, trying instead to persuade them on the merits of the bill. Amazingly, the article then proceeds to attack DiMasi for actually being effective in helping the governor to block a destructive gay-bashing referendum on same-sex marriage. Excuse me, which side of that issue was Bernstein seeking to promote?
Casinos: DiMasi succeeded in getting a very strong House vote to kill casino gambling, which he has publicly opposed based on the grounds that casinos suck dollars out of poor communities to line the pockets of Donald Trump. What does Bernstein want? Should the Speaker not publicly voice his concerns? Perhaps the writer is angry because DiMasi was effective?
Taxes, seniors, and education: the House recently passed an amendment exempting senior citizens from local property-tax overrides. This is another of DiMasi’s sins, according to Bernstein. Proposition 2-1/2 has destabilized education in communities as poor as Randolph and as wealthy as Wellesley by pitting elderly voters on limited incomes against pro-education parents. The pro-education forces craft legislation to shield the elderly from the tax increases to strengthen their hand in advocating education initiatives — why is that wrong? The article doesn’t attempt to deal with the merits of the outcome, other than calling it “lousy.”
Like any leader in a powerful position, the Speaker cannot please all of us all of the time, but he has been effective in advancing a progressive agenda and, in my view, deserves credit. He certainly should not be subjected to scurrilous attack based on his ethnic background.
EDITOR’S NOTE The letter writer served as Massachusetts’s secretary of transportation under Governor Michael Dukakis, and as transportation advisor to Boston mayor Kevin White.
As I read the Phoenix’s latest editorial I thought back to another war that officially and horribly ended 33 years ago this month. Who can forget the photo of the helicopter on the roof of the American Embassy and all those people trying to escape the approaching North Vietnamese Army?
America got trapped in Vietnam and now appears to be repeating history in Iraq. I agree with the Phoenix’s statement, “the first step . . . to escaping the Iraq quagmire is to recognize it for what it is.”
Listening to General Petraeus’s spin reminded me of General Westmoreland (“WasteMoreLand”). Remember Vietnam’s infamous light at the end of the tunnel? Well, we’ve got tunnel vision again.
Sal J. Giarratani
Text of the week
In a recent issue, we asked our readers to text in their thoughts on when the US should pull out of Iraq. Here’s what one had to say:
Troops out now!