Michael Gaffney, currently a city council member and chair of the Worcester Republican City Committee, must be getting desperate. That’s the only explanation for his increasingly desperate – and sleazy – attacks on his political opponents. He also wants and needs to divert attention away from the sleaze that he sponsors on the increasingly-under-fire Turtleboy Sports website.
Yours truly was the most recent recipient of Gaffney’s dishonest venom. A few days ago, I was honored to be elected by the city council to the Worcester Public Library’s board of directors. Gaffney is now taking the opportunity on Facebook (in a sponsored advertisement no less) to rail against the council members who voted for me. According to Worcester’s sleaziest council member, I’m a communist who hates the military, and those who voted to support my candidacy must also hate the soldiers and want America to turn Soviet.
No, I’m not making this up. Gaffney actually went on at length about me and the library board election in his most recent video show.
I have to say that I am particularly disgusted and offended by Gaffney’s attempts to play politics with the lives of American soldiers. As someone who has family members and cherished friends who have served all over the world – and who was named after a good American who gave his life in Vietnam – I can say that Gaffney’s attempt to score political points is way out of line.
If I were to be charitable, I’d say Gaffney is foolish, and gets his news only from Turtleboy Sports, the local Holden-based anti-Worcester blog he funds. I’m not that charitable, though, because it’s obvious that Gaffney is being dishonest – he knows better. In his ridiculous allegations, he reads from a Turtleboy Sports article, one which I’ve already debunked.
Gaffney refuses to mention me by name because I’m “not important.” I guess that’s his excuse not answering my open letter to him. But if I’m not important, why does he keep discussing me? (I’d worry he was stalking me, but he gets so much wrong, even how long I’ve been in Worcester: he says “six or eight months,” when really I’ve been here well over a year. Alas, with my resume he now has my address…) I would point out that an elected official should consider each of his or her constituents important; it is telling that Gaffney does not. But the truth is that Michael Gaffney hates me not for some perceived communism, but because I’ve been honest enough to expose his relationship with Turtleboy Sports.
Michael Gaffney is not a credible source, but he has been spreading his lies through Facebook ads, so I thought it was appropriate to respond to them.
Michael Gaffney’s lies about Vietnam and my support of American troops
It shouldn’t need to be said, and I’ve already said it before, but let me say it now: I’m not a communist, and obviously I support American troops. The article Gaffney quoted from actually displays my support. Gaffney takes issue with the fact that I criticized the decision by LBJ and Nixon to continue the war in Vietnam (which we now know Kennedy had planned to end), and some of my words about Vietnam now.
I would first like to point out something Michael Gaffney might not be aware of: Vietnam has become an important partner of the United States. While the point of what I wrote was that it is good that the U.S. and Vietnam are putting behind an old and ugly rivalry, more than simple good feelings are at play: Vietnam is vitally important in countering potential aggression by China against American allies. At the time I wrote that article, the Obama administration was busy cultivating that relationship.
While Gaffney cherry-picks my criticism of American policy (which, the better part of a decade after writing, I would write far differently), he leaves out a huge portion of the article. Here’s what he missed:
I never had the chance to meet Danny Manzaro, my father’s best friend and whose name I bear. Manzaro, a corporal in the 3rd battalion, 7th Marines, killed at age 21 in what is now Quang Nam province in the U.S. aggression against Vietnam. He should have been home when the bullet took his life, but he was still fighting in Vietnam; his tour of duty had been extended.
My father, of course, was devastated when he learned of the loss of his friend. He didn’t serve in that war, because of a trick knee. He felt, perhaps still feels, a sense of guilt over this. Though he harbored no resentment against the Vietnamese, he didn’t feel that it was right that so many of his friends were dying overseas while he was stateside (though, of course, my family was and is glad his knee wasn’t up to military par). The loss of his best friend only compounded the guilt.
Though Manzaro was killed well before I was born in 1976, some of my earliest memories involve him. I remember my father showing me, as a child, the last letters Manzaro had sent. The brightly colored envelopes had “air mail” written repeatedly in human script on their front and back. I was told that the soldiers fighting were so desperate to keep in touch with friends and family back home that they went to great lengths to ensure that letters sent were received. A few years later, in the early 1980s, a moving Vietnam War memorial came through Worcester, Massachusetts, my hometown. My family went downtown and found Danny’s name written on it.
The way the war was taught to me as a child was abstract: there were battles and they were particularly violent. Innocent people were being killed everywhere. But what the war was about really was never entirely clear. Perhaps no one in the family was really sure. There were two sides, but I had no idea what each side stood for. Back then, I never thought to ask. The war was a fact, as is water and the sky, and there seemed to be no reason to question why it was there.
No one can read this and say that I am somehow anti-military. Did Gaffney only read the part quoted by Turtleboy Sports? If so, he’s far less informed than a city council member should be. If not, he’s very much more dishonest than an elected official should be. Or maybe Gaffney only started reading the article in the middle. But if he did that, he would have noted that I lauded the tens of thousands of American veterans who were, at the time of writing, gathering “in Lambeau Stadium in Green Bay. The main message on display was simple: war is hell. This is something to which both the Vietnamese people and American soldiers can attest.” Gaffney would have also seen that I called on everyone to work to “ensure that our government does its part in aiding all the victims of Agent Orange, Vietnamese and American.”
But yes, I do wish we had never sent our soldiers to Vietnam. If it wasn’t for that God damned war, my father never would have lost his best friend, and I would have had a chance to meet him in person, not only through the letters he left behind.
Michael Gaffney’s lies on racial issues
Gaffney, in his Cheers Worcester show, then goes on to say that I’m a racist, because, he argues, I tried to use African American churches – and I’m not joking here; he actually says this – to bring communism to America. Again, though, Gaffney sleazily transforms the truth into a lie.
The council member quotes me as saying, “In Brooklyn, we have to consider how we can bring the large Black churches into the fight. How can we utilize the organizational connections we have, the relationships with elected officials, to do so?” If Gaffney would have simply read the paragraph preceding that, he would have seen that I was referring to “the upcoming jobs fight,” i.e. the fight for good paying jobs. Anyone who knows anything about central Brooklyn knows that the largest organizations there are the labor unions and the African American churches, many of which are politically active. The former, obviously, would have already been part of the fight for jobs.
I don’t know what motivated people to vote the way they did. However, I have some ideas. While Gaffney says my resume is “garbage”, my guess is that having worked as an editor at the largest academic publishing house on Earth, Oxford University Press, might have something to do with it. Or the fact that I’ve studied specifically how boards and the nonprofit and governmental organizations they oversee are supposed to act. Perhaps, also, my experience as a program manager building a mentorship program for inner city youth, might have been partly the reason. Maybe what brought me votes is that, in my cover letter, I wrote about how I grew up in Worcester and still mourn the closing of the Hamilton Street branch of the library.
To sum up
It’s clear that Gafney’s libelous insinuations have nothing to do with the library, or even me, Instead, he is desperately trying to deflect from the fact that he’s become increasingly unpopular. He spends his time railing against the direction the city’s going in, even though the vast majority of people here are proud that the city is finally moving forward. Also, now that it’s election season again, Gaffney needs to turn conversation away from the fact that he sponsors Turtleboy Sports, the blog that, among other things, demonizes the poor and openly sexualizes children. Worcester residents should know that Gaffney supports a blog that even Facebook has now taken issue with.
Also, in this very Democratic city, Gaffney’s leadership of the Trump faction of the Republican Party is bad for him as well. I mean, the biggest problem with the Communist Party was that it seemed to take orders from a foreign power. That power collapsed a quarter century ago.
Now, it’s the national leader of Gaffney’s own party who seems to be a little too close to a certain ex-KGB agent and former communist – Vladimir Putin.