Opinion: Area resident disappointed in Princeton council’s treatment of discussion about Columbus Day

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Typing Letter to the Editor for the Opinion page.

On Sept. 30 I was before the Town Council of Princeton. I would like to clarify that I am not a resident of Princeton. The reason I appeared before the Town Council was the
disenchantment I had with their attempt to de emphasize Christopher
Columbus Day by having a Native American Day on the same day.

Certainly, the Native Americans deserve at least a month to celebrate
their heritage and contributions. Councilwoman Leticia Fraga’s
assertion that the resolution states this is not to replace Columbus
Day is without merit. First, a Town Council cannot replace a federal
statute, resolution or otherwise, it has no jurisdiction to do so.
Second, the placement in the resolution that it does not replace
Columbus Day is consummate with putting the phrase, “This does not
discriminate against African Americans in a Jim Crow statute.”

It is sheer prejudice and bigotry, whether intentional or in fact, not to take
into account the institution of Columbus Day by President Benjamin
Harrison. President Harrison was a moral man and genuinely felt the
Italians were discriminated against. The evidentiary facts at the
council meeting showed the number of African Americans, including one
Native American, who felt it would be wrong to eliminate Columbus Day.

The board, except for Councilman Dwaine Williamson, did not
entertain what I had said with serious discussion. A former councilman called, stating he was happy to be home in his pajamas so he did
not have to deal with this. Sadly, Mayor Liz Lempert laughed, thinking this
type of conduct was humorous.

Ms. Fraga reiterated the resolution did not intend to replace Columbus Day and how she “likes” the Italian culture. Mia Sacks and Eve Neidergang said nothing.

May I remind those council members just mentioned, you should heed the words of Professor Cornell West who said, “You must let suffering speak if you want to
hear the truth.”

All those who attend council meetings should be
treated with dignity. This insult to free speech was further compounded
by Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros saying she was 100% Italian and
welcomed all to engage. This type of futile grandstanding has no place at a board meeting.

However, Williamson admitted Italians were discriminated against and then discussed Columbus and why he was controversial. The residents of Princeton should be proud of Mr.
Williamson – he showed a willingness to dialogue, conducting himself
with integrity. Mr. Williamson truly took to heart the words of Noam
Chomsky, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we
despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”

To Mayor Liz Lempert and those council members Ms. Lambros, Ms. Sacks, Ms Niedergang, and Ms. Fraga, pajama justice will not be tolerated.

Daniel Anthony Guerriero
Hamilton