And here we go with the latest round in the “Is Stu Bykofsky a Bigot” sweepstakes. The latest entrant: Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, who gets Daily News op-ed space today to call for Stu’s firing from the paper.
Byko’s anti-Latino bias, she writes, is self-evident:
The same day that the Daily News printed Mr. Bykofsky’s column in which he names and attacks Juntos, we were interrupted and shaken by threatening phone calls we received from people who felt emboldened by Mr. Bykofsky’s position and chose to let us know that we as a staff in Juntos and our community as a whole are both disposable and to be disposed of.
The question isn't "Is Bykofsky Anti-Latino?" That answer is self-evident in the fact that he felt the need to ask. The question is why any newspaper would allow itself to be a vehicle for his rhetoric that is normalizing and fomenting an anti-Latino environment in Philadelphia. The city has no room for such divisions between our communities and neither should the Daily News. Instead of giving credence to his irresponsible opinionating, the paper should make it clear that "Am I anti-Latino?" is why he will be asking "Why am I out of a job?" and terminate his tenure immediately.
Maybe Byko needs to be defended a little bit here. Even though that's not the natural inclination here.
First: The debate over immigration policy — and Bykofsky's commentary on it — is complicated by this dynamic:
• You don't have to be racist to favor somewhat strict immigration controls. (You could simply believe that too much immigration — and/or illegal immigration — floods the low-end labor supply and ends up depressing the wages of America's poorest workers. There are people who believe that.)
• But ... pretty much all the racists are against immigration.
It's easy to lump them all in together. But that might be a mistake.
Second: It may be the case that "by his fruits you will know him." Still, it's not necessarily Stu's fault that Juntos got nasty phone calls after his column ran. There are absolute a-holes in the world who will take a writer's words differently — or, perhaps, a little farther — than intended. It happens all the time. Communicating for a living can be tough.
Like I said earlier this week: I can't know if Byko is bigot — I don't know his heart. He does seem to have credibility problems that won't ever go away. But I suspect he enjoys that a portion of the community is having this debate right now. Barring a surprise, then, when we move onto the next controversy, Stu will still have a job — and, impossibly, an even more inflated ego.