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It’s Not the First Time Collins Called Silver an Anti-Christ

When Erie County Executive Chris Collins called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver an anti-Christ last Saturday night at a Republican dinner, it wasn’t the first time he’d pulled the line out of his bag.

IMG_9214He recently made the exact same comparison to a group of Buffalo State political science students, who were visiting the Rath Building. Two Buffalo State faculty member were present.

Yesterday I asked Grant Loomis, the county executive’s director of communications, if Collins had ever made a similar reference to Silver before. He assured me that Collins had had not, that the remark was “unscripted” and “off the cuff.”

He then paused a moment and backed off a little, adding, “…to the best of my knowledge.”

I told Loomis about the Buffalo State students, and the two members of the faculty, and Loomis said, “Oh.”

He told me he’d look into it and get back to me. He did not, until this morning, when I wrote to him that I would take his failure to reply as a refusal to comment. He replied to that email immediately: “The CE has said everything there is to say in the statement,” referring to the apology Collins issued on Monday:

“Saturday night, I made a poor joke regarding the Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver.  I want to extend my sincerest apologies to him for my comments.  I have placed a call to the Speaker’s office to offer my apologies directly.

While we may disagree strongly on policy matters, my statement had no place in our political discourse and I am truly sorry to both the Speaker and to anyone else who I may have offended.”

I’m not going to take issue with the apology—it’s too easy to undermine the sincerity of a public apology, and it’s not fair: I can’t see into the heart of Chris Collins.

But it’s clear to me that his remark comparing an orthodox Jew to Hitler and the anti-Christ was not “off the cuff” or “unscripted”; it was not a momentary lapse in judgment. The joke is part of Collins’s repertoire. He has used it more than once, who knows how many times. Perhaps he wasn’t even aware that it was offensive until the uncomfortable silence he met at the Adam’s Mark on Saturday night. Maybe he didn’t know it was offensive until Elizabeth Benjamin exposed the remarks in the New York Daily News on Sunday. Maybe he still doesn’t believe what he said was offensive.  He certainly did not recognize it to be offensive between the time he made the remark to that group of college students and the time he made the remark on Saturday. Or he did and didn’t care. The former makes him an idiot, the latter makes him arrogant and heedless.

And, as Bruce Fisher writes in this week’s cover story, giving him a pass on this makes us all look bad.

UPDATE: Grant Loomis sent out a second statement this morning, after our email exchange. Here it is:

“The County Executive, at times, uses very harsh language in taking on what he believes are opponents of the taxpayers.  As the descendant of a Jewish grandfather, the County Executive recognizes that this characterization of the Speaker is wrong.  He has apologized for that characterization publicly, and personally apologized to the Speaker.  The County Executive will not let this mistake, however, distract him from his focus on protecting taxpayers and challenging the status quo locally and in Albany.”

Still no denial. So he’s called Silver hateful things before, and now that he’s been caught out, he recognizes what he said was wrong. Call it adult education, on Erie County’s dime.


  • http://buffalopundit.wnymedia.net Buffalopundit

    At the very least, Collins’ press guy could have amended the statement to read:

    On at least two occasions that I will admit to, I made a poor joke regarding the Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver. I want to extend my sincerest apologies to him for my repeated comments. I have placed a call to the Speaker’s office to offer my apologies directly.

    While we may disagree strongly on policy matters, my statement had no place in our political discourse *cough*HITLER!*cough* and I am truly sorry to both the Speaker and to anyone else who I may have offended, including the Poli Sci students from Buff State, their professors, and any and all Jewish people.

  • http://buffalopundit.wnymedia.net Buffalopundit

    Shorter Loomis: Some of Collins’ ancestors are Jewish, so his “very harsh language” is perfectly understandishable.

    You know what’s getting to be pretty damn status quo nowadays? Hitler comparisons, that’s what.

  • Buffalo Libertarian

    Enough with the political correctness whining already! Collins’ feeble attempt at humor (emphasis on “feeble”) had nothing to do with Silver being an orthodox Jew and had everything to do with Silver arguably being the most powerful of the three-men-in-a-room who really run the empire known as New York State.

    As for Collins’ apology, you don’t really think that was anything more than one of those political correctness apologies politicians are obliged to make when someone whines about the politician saying something that is politically incorrect, do you? There shouldn’t even have been an apology.

  • blightme

    Not a doubt in my mind that Collins was perfectly comfortable delivering that line. Lucky for us, his foot-in-the-mouth moment demonstrates what others already knew: Collins is out of touch and eventually will be out of sight.

  • Victor Nech

    Mike Hook needs to be fired. He created this monster. Collins.. free yourself and rid yourself of Mike Hook. People are laughing…

  • Milt Ehrenberg

    It looks like we haven’t come far from Jesse Jackson’s famous line “Hemi Town”
    What Collins said was what he was thinking. It never stops.

  • libertarian

    Between this and the Bruce Fisher article, and the comments following, I’ve seen the terms ‘racist’ and ‘hate speech’, which makes the position of those comments self-explanatorily polically-correct in the new climate of self-righteous moronity. I frankly don’t know anything about Collins and don’t care much since he’s not nearly as dangerous to me as is Silver. But I’m guessing he was using the term anti-Christ both humorously and figuratively. Figuratively, Silver IS an ‘anti-Christ’ in the sense that his positions are negative image of anything ‘good’ (good for the State and the people). He’s a totalitarian control-freak. Uh oh, I have disagreed with the tastemakers! I musyt be a racist hate-speaker.

  • Elin Bettman

    It’s about time this arrogant guy got his wings clipped….keep up the good work…..he’s got more stuff just waiting to bubble over….I’m so sick of hearing about money….and the word taxpayer makes me sick…it’s so old…what about the middle class and poor folks that live here? I wonder how the unemployment lines have increased since he showed up..

  • Lancey Howard

    There are many career politicians worse than Silver.
    Silver does great work for the constituents in his district.
    Recently he brought them 550 million from the power authority in Western New York.

    After voting to make taxes twice as high on electricity here, than they are in New York City;
    Scott Brown asked Antoine Thompson if he wasn’t the third person of Nostradamus’ predictions?
    Thompson’s reply; “Who’s Nostradamus?” (I’m guessing it’s not Thompson…)

  • Penny Foxglove

    Oh, Chris, you wacky guy!

    Seeking as you so publicly do to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes, why don’t you Six Sigma your big mouth?