During a broadcast on The Box 99.5 about the casino issue, host Preston Brown directed offensive comments towards Paul Goldman, director of the No Means No Casino PAC. Recordings from the November 1st program reveal Brown’s extensive verbal attacks, labeling Goldman a “Judas” and making derogatory remarks about his Jewish heritage, suggesting he was a “white Jew” akin to the traitorous biblical figure. The reaction was swift and unanimous, with individuals both for and against the casino initiative denouncing the host’s inflammatory language.
You can hear the comments HERE.
I first lived in Richmond when helping my friend Doug Wilder try to make his history. It was never my intention to be his campaign manager. But no white person living in Virginia would do it. I couldn’t believe it. I drove down from New York to do it. Needless to say, I got called a few names, some worse than at issue today, at least as directed at me. Doug and I had a deal. We didn’t complain about that stuff. We stayed positive. When I got so steamed at some racial stuff heaped at Doug and wanted to hit back, Governor Robb and Doug pulled me aside. They said I was the campaign manager. It was my call. But they said stay positive. I reluctantly did. They turned out to be right.
I think Doug and Chuck would tell me the same thing 4 decades later.
Like far too many Richmonders, my character, my religion, my race, my background has been subject to vile comments since as long as I can remember. But in that regard, Doug and I are the lucky ones. We got a chance, brief as it might be, to know in our hearts, in a way few ever get to feel, we had actually made things better forever. A little bit for sure. But better. I had longed dreamed of being like my heroes, of making my state, my country, a better place. I never thought the venue would be Virginia or Richmond.
But really, I couldn’t be in a better place.
Thus, what bothers me – and I am talking for me since that’s all I can do – most about the comments at issue are not their odious, antiwhite, antisemitic nature. As Doug will tell you, I got tough skin, at least for a boy from Brooklyn.
I can take it. At my level of the political game, you operate by the JFK code: forgive but don’t forget. You can’t lead with a chip on your shoulder. You can’t lead with hate in your heart.
So, when I wrote Alfred Liggins last night, I didn’t ask for an apology. Truth is, I like Alfred Liggins, our mutual friends know that. Yes, I was ticked off. I let him know. But I knew he was better than that. When he responded this morning with a gracious apology, I wasn’t surprised. And it is fully accepted. I understand the mayor has issued a press release apologizing to me. That too is fully accepted.
But in all honesty, the mayor, my friend Alfred, Ms. Hughes, Churchill Downs, the whole pro-Casino side seem oblivious to the damage they have done to Richmond.
Doug Wilder and I spent years trying to move our state and our city forward. We teamed up with then Lt. Governor Tim Kaine and the late Donald McEachin to do that. So have others. But it sadly remains a long, difficult journey, with a long way to go.
But as our slogan in his historic gubernatorial race said: We have come too far to turn back now.
And this is why I feel the Mayor, Alfred, Ms. Hughes, Churchill Downs and the whole pro-side miss the true meaning of the damage they have done to Richmond. It isn’t merely their failure to apologize to all the people individually singled out.
But to our city, as a whole, to our people, as a whole.
For the love of money, for personal gain, they are willing to turn their casino project into a wedge of division, to attempt to win by a divisive strategy serving only their selfish interests.
They have put Richmond in the worst possible situation. If the Referendum passes, it will be seen around the country as due to their appeal to our worst impulses. This is a stain on Richmond that will take decades to overcome. I know politics a little: They didn’t publicly apologize immediately because they were hoping there would be no political backlash. There was no reaction yesterday. So, no public apology. But when they saw their political gamble losing today, they started apologizing.
This surely doesn’t fool anyone who knows politics.
But if the Referendum fails again as it should, then they will do what they did the last time, play the victim of what they said the last time.
Meaning: Richmond, my city, where my son was born, where I met and married Leslie, has been put in a damn you do, damn you don’t position.
Or put it another way: For the love of money and power, they were prepared to burn the house down.
Doug and I are older guys now. Senator Kaine too, I remember getting them together to help Tim win the Governorship. Proud to do it.
I would hope that in the eyes of our fellow Richmonders we have helped make the River City better.
What we have seen in the last 24 hours is the opposite of that.
So, no one needs to apologize to me. But I do think the people of Richmond deserve to hear the Mayor, Mr. Liggins, Ms. Hughes, Churchill Downs and the pro-side at a press conference explaining why they were willing to burn the house down for their own financial and political benefit.