County Executive’s Facebook post on daycare causes anti-semitic accusations

This is an interesting one in that it shows the unintentional consequences of a Facebook post.

The County Executive of Rockland County, New York is Ed Day.  Like many counties, Rockland County manages a variety of social services, including child-care subsidies.  A recent court ruling ordered Rockland County to reinstate these subsidies to parents who are paid to “answer questions and do research while studying religious texts.” The school in question is Jewish.  On his political Facebook page, Day made this comment:

Just so all in this County are crystal clear. The County Department of Social Services is challenging this absurd decision by an administrative judge at my specific direction. This is off the books “income” at best and this abuse keeps 381families with an estimated 700 children seeking child care deserving families, mostly in communities of color, from receiving needed aid.This is a multi-million dollar scam as many of the families — including the three that challenged losing child care subsidy — also receive Medicaid, Food Stamps and heating allowances. Some families have unbelievably been receiving child care for 20 to 30 years, effectively shutting out other families from the aid. I will leave no stone unturned until this misappropriation of your tax dollars is stopped.

The post has since been shared 99 times and has 149 comments. Whatever Day’s intentions, the comments quickly turned ugly, with many stereotypical attacks at Hasidic Jews and other religions launched.  Among the comments:

  • “I am considering a move to Essex County, NJ. My son (already a resident) said to me sort of jokingly – ‘Mom do you want to live in a state run by Hasids or a state run by the Mob?’ Although Mr. Day has Rockland County’s best interests in mind, The Corridor from Brooklyn to Sullivan County is so deep, so entrenched, so corrupt that I don’t think I will see much change in my life time.”
  • “This community has been scamming the system for so long, they think they are entitled to everything ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH”
  • “If you believers in the son of prostitute revered learning maybe your children wouldn’t be out getting AIDS and getting pregnant all the time. Worry about your own life ours is not your business.”
  • “It began when Hilary ran for the senate Bubba pardoned The creeps who Stole from RCC end of Rico, pull up ur big boy pants Hasidic Community, we are tired of ur dependent lifestyle”

After a slew of comments, Ed Day jumped in and responded:

Just got in from work and am shocked at the entirety of this thread. I would remind all that 85% of my post is merely copied and pasted from the linked LoHud story. Most of that are observations from Rockland County DSS and the DSS commissioner, who are appealing this decision at my direction. Why? I believe, as do these DSS professionals, that these cases are an abuse. And I could not care less who the families are or where they come from; this is about what I and others see as an abuse of taxpayer funds. The height of irony is that the State told us to take action and then an administrative judge reversed to our dismay and shock, even to one poster here who is a judge!
There are a lot of unacceptable comments here and while I have no control over other minds, I do not countenance hate of any kind. But my favorites are from good old Benny Polatseck, who was the creator of an unprovoked hate piece directed at me during the fall campaign, where I was cast as “The Hater of Jews/Israel is promising a bitter future to our community.” This attack piece, for all to see again below, was roundly condemned by many responsible members of the Jewish faith, and I find it amazing that he now wants to capture the moral high ground. I have re-attached that piece so all can see just where Benny’s mind is at, and why my friends of the Jewish faith rejected him and his hatred. And I’ll remind Benny that many in my family fought to free Europe from the Nazi’s; one was a camp liberator; and my own grandson has Jewish blood in him.

In a statement, the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council said, “While it is fully within the rights of the County to appeal a judicial ruling, it’s unbecoming for the County’s top office holder to place a Facebook post that lobs accusations against members of a minority community; a post which suggests that Orthodox Jews are the reason why people in ‘communities of color’ do not have access to Government assistance.  The negative consequences of this writing (are) vividly seen in the troubling comments posted at the bottom of the Facebook post.  An elected official of this stature should use his position to bring communities together instead of behaving in ways which drives them further apart.”

Here’s a great example of how a political post can go horrendously wrong.  I don’t know Ed Day, any of the politics or what his intentions here were.  Taking him at face value, it shows that social media and racial sensitivity do not go hand in hand.  Fair or unfair, elected officials have to use extreme caution when it comes to racial issues.  The reason?  We owe it to our constituents.  The last thing any elected wants to do is start a racist argument on their page, and that’s what Day did here.  The lesson: Be careful with your tone when discussing issues that have racial implications.  Day could have approached the issue more sensitively, but chose to come down hard on the community in question, and that tone likely inspired some of the attacks here.  Also, watch your Facebook page in real time.  Many of these comments should have been deleted because of their blatant use of racism.  Day’s statement of having “just got in from work” shows that the page was clearly not being monitored.

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