Dear Randy, Enough Is Enough.

Editor’s Note: Florida House Representatives Randy Fine is a registered Republican who was elected to represent District 53, including Brevard’s largest city, Palm Bay.

Dear Randy,

You don’t mind that we call you “Randy” do you? Even though we were taught to respect the office even when it is impossible to respect the man, we somehow have a small issue with addressing you as “Representative Fine” as we believe you are not representative of anything the majority of people in Brevard stand for and believe.

You once again find yourself in the middle of a controversy that you created:

In an April 4 post on his Facebook page, Fine called that night’s event in Melbourne, the ‘Palestine/Israel, Opening the Dialogue’ panel discussion sponsored by the Space Coast Progressive Alliance, an “anti-Semitic rally targeting Jews sponsored by a Democrat club.”

Fine also attacked the Florida Today newspaper for “promoting” the event by writing an article about it.

We aren’t sure how a panel discussion “targets Jews,” but such a statement is typical hyperbole from you. If anything, one would hope that more dialogue would be better than terrorism, bombs. bullets and rockets, but apparently you don’t think that is the case. That’s fine (no pun intended) as you are entitled to you opinion.

(If you thought the actual panel members were against things you believe, wouldn’t it have been better to send a strong intellectual representative to the forum and ask that they be allowed on the panel?)

However, you crossed a line – a big line – when you accused someone of being anti-Semitic when they disagreed with you. They had the experience of being at the forum while you did not. They were an eyewitness to what occurred. You were not. Your lack of knowledge led to a despicable exchange on Facebook between you and a citizen:

When a Facebook commenter defended the event as “a candid and open discussion about the longstanding problems shared by Palestine and Israel,” Fine responded, “What a farce.”

“First, there is no ‘Palestine,’” Fine wrote. “Second, having a bunch of speakers who advocate for the destruction of Israel but promise that this one time they won’t, is a joke.”

“We should not engage these bigots,” Fine wrote. “We crush them.”

Alliance board member Paul Halpern responded, “I was at the event. I am Jewish. There was nothing anti-Semitic said. Questioning the policies of the Israeli government is not anti-Semitic. Many people from various organizations were invited to speak and chose not to. Three of the five panelists were Jewish. [By the way], YOU, Rep. Fine, were not there.”

Fine responded by questioning Halpern’s Jewish identity, writing, “What congregation do you belong to? Don’t remember meeting you before.”

Fine then added, “#JudenratDontCount.”

Correct us if we are wrong, Randy, but isn’t “Judenrat” a term from World War II and the collaboration between some Jews and the Nazis?

As far back as 1933, Nazi policy makers had discussed establishing Jewish-led institutions to carry out anti-Jewish policies. The concept was based upon centuries-old practices which were instituted in Germany during the Middle Ages. As the German army swept through Poland and the Soviet Union, it carried out an order of S.S. leader Heydrich to require the local Jewish populace to form Jewish Councils as a liaison between the Jews and the Nazis. These councils of Jewish elders, (Judenrat; plural: Judenräte), were responsible for organizing the orderly deportation to the death camps, for detailing the number and occupations of the Jews in the ghettos, for distributing food and medical supplies, and for communicating the orders of the ghetto Nazi masters. The Nazis enforced these orders on the Judenrat with threats of terror, which were given credence by beatings and executions. As ghetto life settled into a “routine,” the Judenrat took on the functions of local government, providing police and fire protection, postal services, sanitation, transportation, food and fuel distribution, and housing, for example.

The Judenrat raised funds to create hospitals, homes for orphans, disinfection stations, and to provide food and clothing to those without.

Jewish leaders were ambivalent about participating in these Judenröte. On the one hand, many viewed these councils as a form of collaboration with the enemy. Others saw these councils as a necessary evil, which would permit Jewish leadership a forum to negotiate for better treatment. In the many cases where Jewish leaders refused to volunteer to serve on the Judenrat, the Germans appointed Jews to serve on a random basis. Some Jews who had no prior history of leadership agreed to serve, hoping that it would improve their chances of survival. Many who served in the Judenrat were arrested, taken to labor camps, or hanged.

When the Nazis required a quota of Jews to participate in forced labor, the Judenrat had the responsibility to meet this demand. Sometimes Jews could avoid forced labor by making a payment to the Judenrat. These payments supplemented the taxes which the Judenrat levied to finance the services provided in the ghettos.

You called a member of the community a “Nazi collaborator?” Simply on the basis that he disagreed with you on the panel that he attended and you did not?

We can’t think of a term that would offend a Jewish person more than “Judenrat,” but you pulled it out of your bag because why?

Do you think you made any friends calling him that? Do you think you represented the people of Brevard will with that attack? Did you think that would be an example of Republican honesty? Do you think that your name calling advances the issues or people’s understanding of the issues, between Palestine and Israel?

We know it doesn’t so your only reason would have been to try and shut the man up for saying something that you disagree with.

It is not the first time you linked people who disagree with you something associated with Nazis.

Daren Gerrish, a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan, wrote in a post he “was quickly blocked” from commenting on Fine’s official Facebook page. He later told FLORIDA TODAY he wasn’t necessarily against the bill but wanted to learn more about it — and whether “there was any inherent bias as it related to (Fine’s) heritage” — before taking a stance.

Fine, who’s believed to be the only GOP Jewish member of the state Legislature, responded: “I don’t block for much, but anti-Semitism earns you a quick one.” That unleashed a back-and-forth between Fine and dozens of commenters that included nasty comments by Fine and others.

At one point, Fine wrote, “Ok, Nazi. Have a nice day” in response to someone who questioned why those against Israeli policy are labeled anti-Semitic. He said, “I stand against Nazis like you” to another commenter, who said he supports Israel’s existence but doesn’t agree the U.S. “should be financially supporting their military.”

It’s almost Pavlovian with you Randy. Someone disagrees with you and you label them a Nazi. That’s terribly dishonest and void of rational thinking. It appears Randy, that you have a “trigger” where people who disagree with you are “bigots” in your mind.

In a tweet on April 15, 2019, you proudly displayed a letter that you had written to the management of WMMB to remove Bill Mick from the air. We are no friends of Mick and have always believed that his knowledge and especially his knowledge of history lacks depth, but you want him gone.

At the center of your argument is Mick’s attack on your proposed HB 741, a bill that on the face was bigoted but you proposed it anyway. The bill offered protection from “anti-Semitism,” but from no other attacks on people based on their religious beliefs. We wrote about the insanity of your proposal, but it also caught the eye of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) who rightfully claimed the bill was unConstitutional:

FIRE shares the concerns of the bill’s sponsors that anti-Semitism on college campuses appears to be on the rise. We support the provision in the bill adding religion as a protected class at institutions of higher education. This sensible step would strengthen institutions’ ability to address anti-Semitic harassment while also providing protections for students subject to harassment motivated by Islamophobia, hostility to Christianity, or any other faith.

Despite our support for that provision, we must nevertheless oppose HB 741 because its solution to the problem is unconstitutional.

The central constitutional defect in HB 741 is that it attempts to define anti-Semitism in law. Defining anti-Semitism is a mistake. Generally speaking, in the United States, we don’t statutorily define terms like racism, sexism, or other forms of prejudice. Instead, we prohibit discrimination on the basis of broad protected classes, like race, religion, and gender, and let courts evaluate cases in their individual contexts.

You even called for the removal of Sen. Audrey Gibson, the leader of the Senate Democrats in Tallahassee who voted against the bill for the correct belief that the bill is divisive as it only sought to protect one religion instead of protecting all religions – and even no religion.

“Fighting anti-Semitism is something that used to bring all Floridians together,” said Rep. Randy Fine. “But it is comments like these by the Democrat Leader of the Senate that creates divisiveness – not legislation that will reduce it,”

“It is sad that in the world propagated by Washington Democrats like Congresswomen Ihlan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Tallahassee Democrats like Audrey Gibson, fighting anti-Semitism is ‘divisive.’ In this time of rising anti-Semitism around both the country and globe, it is unconscionable that the most powerful Democrat in the Florida Senate would vote against banning discrimination based on anti-Semitism,” Fine added.

“I would strongly encourage the Senate Democrat Caucus to hold Leader Gibson accountable for these statements. It was my hope that Florida would take a united stand against the anti-Semitism coming out of the Washington; while that hope is now dashed,” Fine added, “I am still optimistic that our Republican Legislature and Governor DeSantis will repudiate the Omar/Tlaib/Gibson position and make that statement loud and clear.”

If your bill had protected anti-Christian acts, anti-atheist acts, anti-Muslim acts, etc., it would have gotten widespread support. Instead, you made it about one religion.

Is it really your position that only members of the Jewish faith deserve protection from attacks based on their faith? If you do, can you not see how that would be considered divisive to protect one group but not another?

(Sorry, that last question was rhetorical as you clearly cannot see that obvious point.)

The funny (sad) thing about the Bill Mick letter tweet is that you claim you are calling out “bigotry in [your] own party,” clearly missing the fact that you are a bigot as well.

You are against freedom of speech. You are against the “marketplace of ideas.” You are for punishing those who disagree with you.

You, sir, spew out the same type of “hate speech” you decry and your own bill would have criminalized.

You are against freedom.

It is bad enough that you expose your bigotry and inability to disagree while acting like a 13 year old teenager, but your conduct reflects negatively on other Republicans, other conservatives, other members of the Brevard Republican Executive Committee (BREC,) people of the Jewish faith, people of Jewish lineage, and the 160,000 people people in Brevard County you were elected to represent.

Enough is enough.

Do better.

Your friends here are Raised on Hoecakes.

NOTE TO READERS: Philip Stasik, the president of the Space Coast Progressive Alliance which put on the open forum, has an opinion piece in the Florida Today about Fine and his comments.

In the piece, Stasik throws out the old canard on “hate speech” saying:

Hate speech has no place in our public or private discourse. Ever.

The U.S. Supreme Court stated the general rule regarding protected speech in Texas v. Johnson (109 S.Ct. at 2544), when it held: “The government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.” Federal courts have consistently followed this. Said Virginia federal district judge Claude Hilton: “The First Amendment does not recognize exceptions for bigotry, racism, and religious intolerance or ideas or matters some may deem trivial, vulgar or profane.”

Quite simply, under the law, there is no such thing as “hate speech.

We do find it interesting that both Fine and the progressive Stasik think protected speech can be labeled as “hate speech.”

Birds of a feather, we suppose.

One Response to “Dear Randy, Enough Is Enough.”

  1. Thomas L Gaume says:

    We have several elected officials who are too thinned skinned to be in a position that is held to public scrutiny.

    Speech can be offensive or even obscene, but it’s still constitutionally protected FREE speech.