Does Hate Have a Home in Croton?

The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.

To the editor:
Hate has no home in Croton, but it has offers out on a few properties and should be in contract shortly. 

In the Gazette (week of August 2-8) we have one Croton resident upset about ShopRite’s speaking before the Board of Trustees; the resident says “You have to use a club with these people.”

Two other Croton residents were angry that someone spoke out against racist flyers. Normally this would not be controversial, but the speaker against racism was Terrence Murphy and hence this was an outrage to our community. 

My favorite Gazette quote of the year was from the Croton resident who objected to Mr. Murphy’s statement against hatred and online posting of a “Hate Has No Home” sign: the resident concluded without irony: “Croton has no room for hate is right, and therefore, Croton has no room for Murphy.”


Another Croton resident, who is the leading exponent of the idea that the Village is festering with hatred, recently praised the masses who put up “Hate Has No Home” lawn signs. The resident expressed “thanks to those who have taken their own private action to fight hatred.”

This very same Croton beacon of love authored an infamous tirade in April of last year. While the contents are not printable in this newspaper, part of the statement reads: “I ****ing HATE THEM… I ****ing hate their ****ing guts.” 

Not only was there no outrage in Croton over this expression of hatred, there was considerable support for the resident and that person is now a Trustee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson.

Hate has no home in Croton, but it is a welcome guest in the Municipal Building.

Tom Lehrer once said: “I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that.” If Mr. Lehrer were alive today, his comedy would be received as common sense truth in Croton.

And of course we have the Croton hobby of taking photos of our neighbors’ homes and posting snarky comments about our neighbors online. This began a few years ago with posting photos of Croton homes which had lawn signs for non-Democrat candidates—a very serious offense in Croton. It progressed on to photos of residents front walkways. At Earth Day a few years ago, someone was smoking a cigarette at the edge of Vassallo Park and was pursued by someone wielding a camera phone to get a photo of the smoker.

I don’t smoke and in 2008 I put up an Obama lawn sign, but I support the right of people to express views contrary to my own and to put whatever they want into their lungs, carcinogenic though it may be.

Full disclosure: in 2017 I was the target of a politically-prominent Croton resident. The village created a condition on my sidewalk while plowing, and I did my best to reduce the hazard to pedestrians. Not only was the photo put online, but there was discussion that the village should do code enforcement against me and a statement that I was friends with a specific Croton resident who was a political opponent of the person who posted the photo of my house. In fairness I should mention that after this matter came to the Village Manager, the plowing procedure was changed.

A more recent example of the Croton mob in action was the photo of red Prius guy. His photo and license plate were posted online with the claim that he had cussed out a female driver at the dummy light and a demand that he be identified—names must be named! Everyone piled on, including one of Croton’s leading businessmen. I stopped by the Croton PD and it turns out that they were aware of the situation because red Prius guy had come in right after the incident claiming that he had been the victim of harassment and felt threatened.

Who was right? I don’t know, and that is precisely the point. Nobody who was not there knows what happened, but almost every Croton resident online was willing to join the mob. Ostensibly this was simply for doxxing, and that doxxing is also a growing hobby here in Croton. Of course nobody wants to see anything bad happen (wink, wink) but if something does we will all tsk and say we oppose all forms of violence, "but…"  And then we will note that the victim brought this on himself because of his expression of a repugnant viewpoint or repugnant battle standard.

This idea that violence is OK because of the offensive nature of the victim’s speech did not originate with Chris Cuomo’s CNN piece last week. In the wake of the Identity Evropa flyer incident, many in Croton were gleefully fanning the flames and passing along tips about which news trucks were interviewing at which locations. No doubt there was much joy in Croton as social media posts were shared and forwarded to Antifa and anarchist groups. 

A few Croton residents were only troubled when on the morning of Friday the 27th a post appeared on Facebook discussing weekend plans for “scoping out CoH”, followed by one bluntly asking: “who wants to go Nazi hunting in CoH?”

It is not difficult to whip up a mob online, the difficulty is controlling the members of the mob. Just ask the Southern Poverty Law Center how they feel about Floyd Corkins. Croton residents and political leaders who think this is just typical online trolling are playing a dangerous game.

The newest Croton fad is standing in the checkout line at ShopRite and loudly commenting on the customer in front of you who is using plastic bags. You then whip out your phone and start snapping photos of them. ShopRite should consider a policy prohibiting photography inside the store (many department stores have such policies), but it is a sad commentary on Croton today that we are literally hounding people out of the supermarket.

Much like Donald Trump’s need to constantly talk about how he has a high IQ, our need in Croton to constantly talk about how “Hate Has No Home in Croton” raises the question of whether we doth protest too much.

Croton has a problem with hatred and intolerance, and we can put up sanctimonious signs on every remaining un-signed patch of grass in Croton without changing that fact. 

Parking a taco truck next to the halal shawarma vendor while a cover band bangs out No Woman, No Cry on the steel drums is not a demonstration of diversity, it is a modern minstrel show. Like the minstrel shows of old, the purpose is as much reinforcing the power of the dominant tribal group as it is entertainment.

There are things Croton can do to increase diversity, but those will take a serious commitment and time. The first step is simple tolerance: you can have tolerance without diversity, but you can’t have diversity in the absence of tolerance.

Houses of worship used to be a source of such values, but no longer. In Croton you will have no problem getting religious leaders to denounce ICE, and if you want to screen a film blaming the Syrian civil war on climate change you will find plenty of venues. But if you expect to hear Proverbs 25:21 or Matthew 5:44, you are in for disappointment.

Croton is full of love for abstract causes and people in distant lands. If we can love them, maybe we can at least tolerate Terrence Murphy setting foot within the Croton village limits. You might even say “Good morning.”

Paul Steinberg