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Op-Ed: Why Is Rep. Minnie Gonzalez Criticized – And Not Republicans?

State Rep. Minnie Gonzalez at Tuesday's public hearing on the fate of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission.

Gerry Garcia
New Haven

I read with sadness and disappointment the Courant’s editorial, Rep Gonzalez Insulting Email Disgraceful. In your zeal to pin blame on Connecticut’s senior Latina legislator, what’s most disgraceful is that the Courant’s editors completely miss the much bigger issue.
We happen to be in the midst of a national conversation on police use of excessive force, of dead black men, of brutality that would never have come to light but for ordinary citizen bystanders with camera phones.  Too many black and brown Americans – from South Carolina to New York to Los Angeles to our own East Haven – fear for our lives when we’re engaged by police.  Rather than blaming the Latina for an inappropriate e-mail, where is the Editors’ righteous indignation that Republican legislators put politics and personal animus ahead of this important national conversation and related legislation?
No one excuses Rep. Gonzalez’ comments, for which she already has apologized (as the Courant editorial acknowledges).  That should suffice.  Which is why I cannot help but wonder why this news organization would single out Rep Gonzalez, and why her errant e-mail would rise to the level of an editorial under your masthead.  In condemning language, this editorial staff lays blame at Rep Gonzalez feet for failure of important legislation to pass, due to the atrocity of an inappropriate e-mail.  Really?
The Courant’s premise is revolting, and calls into question why the Courant would go out of its way to attack Connecticut’s senior Latina legislator and absolve all her filibustering Republican colleagues for failing to do their jobs.  Really?  Who among us hasn’t sent out a nasty e-mail that, after hitting send, we wished we could rescind?  We’ve all done it.  Yet this editorial staff singles out this legislator, this e-mail, and this moment to publicly humiliate Rep Gonzalez.  Why?
The Courant observes Rep Gonzalez’ “over-stoked emotions.”  She had an “e-mail tantrum.”  Wow.  Was she “hysterical,” too?  How patronizing.  When ever has the Courant used this language to describe a man? Or someone who isn’t a minority?
Throughout her legislative career, Rep Gonzalez has been outspoken, aggressive and often unfiltered.  Her constituents seem to like her that way.  They elect her by landslide margins over and over.  Like her style or no, she’s a fierce champion for her constituents and delivers for them.
But this isn’t about her, and should never have been.  This should be about protecting all Connecticut’s people from excessive and abusive use of force; about using modern technology to memorialize as best we can the interactions between our ordinary citizens and our law enforcement officers, the latter who we entrust with guns; and about how, when faced with a choice, our supposedly adult Republican legislator “leaders” picked pettiness over progress, preferring to exact a pound of flesh from one of their own rather than engage one of the landmark issues of our day.  On this last point, the Courant is complicit:  Whose judgment is worse? Republican legislators who used Rep Gonzalez’ e-mail as an excuse to filibuster what the Courant editors call “important legislation,” or the Courant editors themselves, who seized this moment to swipe at Rep Gonzalez because they could, and ignored the much larger issues at hand?
To both, put your big boy pants on and get back to work!

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