Misinformation and Ms. Charlene

In my years working the Lower East Side on behalf of its Senator (as he was then), Marty Connor, I got to meet a few old ladies who knew Charles Barron back when he grew up in the local projects of Loisaida.

It was from them I learned that as a young man, the pre-panther Charles Barron was universally known as “Chuck.”

But, in the wake of my most recent article, I’ve been told that calling a grown man “Chuck” is demeaning and disrespectful.

I assure you, this column is dedicated to ensuring that Charles Barron gets every bit of respect that he deserves.  

You can count on it.

It is with that in mind, that I make this solemn promise:

From this day forward, Charles Barron will not long be referred to here as “Chuck.”

From this day forward, he shall be referred to as “Mister Charlie.”   

Which brings us to Mr. Charlie’s anachronistic definition of who and what is worthy of respect.

If one portion of his campaign announcement speech exemplified Charles Barron’s innate reflexive homophobia, it was this fragment:

"I'm going to put some fire under the Congressional Black Caucus and say, 'Come on, brothers and sisters, our time has come for us to stand up and be the voice for our people.' Even if you don't win the vote, say something. Don't sit there like some political punk.”

By "PUNK," Barron does not mean Joey Ramone (Alev Ha-Sholem) or Johnny Rotten with a safety pin through his  face, or even the brothers from Bad Brains. .

In Barron’s rendition, a punk is a maytag—a prisoner who does someone else’s laundry, a girly man, a man who takes it up his anal orifice, and is therefore not a real man.

From the mockery and disdain almost literally dripping from Barron's  voice, it is easy to tell that, in Barron’s estimation, there is nothing in the world more worthy of contempt than a “punk.”

Fetishism about manhood is by no means just a black thang. The Yiddish word for a decent human being is a “mensch,” which literally means “a man.”

Which bring us to today’s Barron outrage, which actually took place at. his campaign announcement: 

"They told me when I get up here, 'Don't say nothing about foreign policy Charles, they're going to use that against you.' Use it,…Because we're also going to stand up for Robert Mugabe, he's an African hero, taking the land back from white people who stole the land from us in the first place."

Barron, whose taken it on the chin for bringing homophobic mass murder Robert Mugabe to City Hall for a hero’s welcome “contrasted the reaction to that visit, with the treatment of Ian Smith, the former prime minister of Rhodesia who fought black nationalists in the late 1970s, and, according to Barron, was taken to a Broadway play in New York by President Jimmy Carter, despite being a ‘murderer.’”  

When I heard Barron say this, I didn’t know how to react.

Ian Smith was all Barron said he was, but Jimmy Carter successfully facilitated Smith’s exit from power, and if in doing so, he engaged in a little wining and dining, wasn’t if for the greater good?

Would it have been better to maintain clean hands at the price of leaving the bastard in power? After all, once usually does not get to negotiate difficult transitions of power with one’s friends. Usually, such transitions involve being far too civil to despicable people.

And if that is so, is giving the SOB some roofie-spiked champagne and KYing him before you punk him really the moral equivalent of giving him the keys to the City?

I thought all that, but I was wrong.

But not in the manner Mister Charlie Barron would think.

A little history: 

After declaring in 1976 that there would never be majority rule in Rhodesia, "not in a thousand years," Ian Smith reluctantly began to yield to diplomatic pressures and international sanctions. Further urging from then U.S. Secretary of State, Henry A. Kissinger led Smith agree on a plan to transition toward majority rule.  Critics pointed out, however, that the agreement was flawed, that whites would still retain many privileges.  Mostly though, Smith was suspiciously slow to carry it out. It was not until two years later, after a change in U.S. Administrations, when Smith finally signed an agreement with moderate black leaders on condition that they eschew war. But exiled leaders, Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, dismissed the settlement as a ploy because it enabled whites to retain control of the army, economy and legislature. The agreement won no international recognition.

Over State Department objections, 27 U.S. Senators invited Smith to the U. S. in October 1978 to discuss the plan. Newly energized, Smith arrived in Washington hoping to promote his "internal settlement" approach to biracial government in Rhodesia. However, his reception was chilly at best.  Even most of the Senators with whom he met were reportedly unimpressed.

In a dramatic snub to a visiting head of state, President Carter flatly refused to meet with the Prime Minister, telling the press quite simply, "I do not intend to see Mr. Smith. There is no reason for me to meet with him."

A meeting with now U.S Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance ended in further disappointment.  Smith's delegation arrived at the State Department surrounded by Secret Service agents to protect them from placard-waving demonstrators. Once inside,  Smith grimly characterized the meeting as a sparring session in which there was nothing more than "a repetition of old ideas." In a pointed rebuff, Vance did not even bother to escort Smith from the State Department building as is customary with visiting dignitaries.

In other words, Chuck Barron’s version of “history” is a despicable lie which slanders the laudable efforts of the good but flawed man from Plains Georgia.

I spent hours on Google and other databases trying to find any evidence of Barron’s version of these events.

Only two links on the web mention Barron's version of this "history," and one of them is the story I just linked about Barron’s announcement for Congress.

The other is from a semi-reputable source, the Harvard Crimson.

The Crimson article states:

“… the white colonial ruler of Rhodesia, Ian Smith, was not condemned for his abuses; he was invited by Jimmy Carter to see a Broadway play, even though Smith ran a murderous regime.”

Actually, Smith was almost universally condemned for his abuses, but perhaps this error can be put in perspective by considering the source of the information, which might also shed light on the Jimmy Carter/Broadway show story.

The source cited in the article for the “information” I just quoted is:

Charles Barron.

It is with this in mind that I issue this Challenge to Mr. Charlie.

Within one week, either produce some documentary evidence for your allegation that Jimmy Carter took Ian Smith to a Broadway show, or if you can’t prove it, issue an apology to Jimmy Carter for spreading this libelous misinformation about him.

A mensch would apologize.

Someone who refuses to apologize for spreading such a lie is not a mensch.

He’s a punk.

Mister Charlie, are you a mensch or a punk?

Maybe we should call you “Ms. Charlene.”