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Sundown by Douglas Sciorra

Column: Let’s not poison the well we all drink from

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Republicans put the ‘woke’ on notice, but what does that even mean ?

Hornell GOP boss says, “woke never feels at home here”

By Andrew Harris

When I heard a recent Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speech on the radio yesterday as he rallied against the “woke” culture and promised to work against “them.” Today, the Hornell Republican Party published a thank you to voters and a message from the local chairman, Paul VanCaeseele. The last paragraph of Paul’s missive reads:

“Unfortunately, it seems as though much of the downstate elite and woke-ridden Democrats in liberal cities did not feel that the economic and criminal burden was heavy enough to push him(Zeldin) across the finish line. That being said, we will continue our local campaign to hold true to our values to make sure that Woke never feels at home here.”

What does ‘woke’ mean? Personally I have been accused of being “woke,” but I figured that was because I am a man with lots of long hair including twelve year old dreadlock named George.

A quick google search and ‘woke’ is very specifically defined by Websters and Wikipedia as:

 “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination” 

the definition of ‘woke’

Why in the world would the Hornell Republicans want to make that group feel unwelcome? I very much doubt that Mr. VanCaeseele and his Republican colleagues would want that for Hornell.

From what I can tell, the local GOP is just naive to the concept of ‘woke,’ using it as a blanket term to define those on the other side of the political spectrum.

Conflating bail reform or women’s rights, or affirmative action, or whatever singular issue with the term ‘woke’ is simply incorrect, a mislabeling. It is like when your grandparents tell you that rap isn’t real music; it is slightly insulting to everyone but them.

The Hornell Republican party appears to have been successful in turning the city from “blue” to “red.”

With the addition of Dr. McKay to the Common Council, who ousted the Democrat Reverend Cedric Cooper, Hornell has taken another turn to the right. All state Senators and Assembly members representing Hornell are now Republicans. Should those who are, “alert to racial prejudice and discrimination,” be worried ? Should they move away?

Young people who realize that racism, mysoginy, and all forms of discrimination have no place in our society might consider continuing the traditional mass exodus after graduation. Hornell can’t afford that.

Minorities in general may take this statement by VanCaeseele literally. He is after all, implying that the those concerned with racial prejudice and discrimination among us should forget about it and leave town.

I’ve talked with Mr. VanCaeseele and he has used this site to advertise for the Republican Party. Paul seems like a reasonable fellow and I think he just doesn’t understand this buzzword used as a blanket description of his political adversaries. Perhaps VanCaeseele is just doing what many state and local Republican leaders are doing to align with the DeSantis wing of the GOP.

I hope he, Dr. McKay, Congressman-elect Nick Langworthy, and state elected officials understand that Republicans and Democrats want to hear about specific policy actions, not buzzwords that have divisive connotations. Those connotations have a cost for us all, they marginalize us all.

Emerging from the chaos of Trump, January 6th, and now Biden, we all need a better way forward. Nicknames, taglines, and labels are great for getting attention but they poison the well that we all drink from.

Let’s move past this election cycle with a renewed committment to civility, cooperation, constructive debate, and very carefully chosen words.

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