To the Editor:
I’ve been a resident of Monroe for 33 years. My wife and I raised our family here because It is a town with a great sense of community, where neighbors respect and help each other. In those 33 years I’ve never felt compelled to write a letter to the editor but the events of this last week have been so disheartening and sad; I decided I couldn’t in good conscience remain quiet.
I’ve seen spirited political debate in the past at both election and budget time. Those debates were usually centered around policy or spending differences but were still conducted with respect and comity. This week our political discourse sank into the gutter, and it should disturb every Monroe resident no matter what your party affiliation.
Let me be clear I don’t know Justin Orlando and I’m not sure if I’ve ever met him. What I do know is that he grew up in Monroe, has opted to raise his family here, has children in the school system, has coached youth sports and has stepped forward to volunteer his time to serve the people and children of Monroe as a candidate for the Board of Education.
I also now know he once donned a costume depicting a favorite TV character. A character by the way who was one of the good guys and often cast in a heroic light.
I’m not sure if taken in context, any of this can be viewed as offensive or racist. I don’t have the ability to look at 8-year-old photo and see what is in the heart of Mr. Orlando nor can I discern from that photo that he has any racist tendencies or hurtful intentions.
Perhaps if I was younger, more woke and didn’t have 65+ years of life experience I too might see prejudice, bias, and racism in it; though that would be rather presumptuous of me as I believe it is presumptuous of Mr. Kapoor.
I prefer to believe Mr. Orlando’s explanation of his costume choice. It was done in homage to a TV character he enjoyed and admired. Everyone has the right to view and react to the photo through their own life’s lens.
My only visceral reaction is not to the photo but to Mr. Kapoor using this photo as a political tool and descending into the gutter of the Politics of Personal Destruction and in turn dragging all of Monroe with him.
From what I can see, it is not Mr. Orlando who owes anyone an apology or should resign but perhaps Mr. Kapoor for his hurtful and divisive approach to local politics should consider taking his own advice. He has shamelessly smeared Mr. Orlando’s reputation, has callously hurt Mr. Orlando’s wife and children, and he dragged the reputation of all of Monroe through the mud of the headline driven media.
None of this would have occurred had Mr. Kapoor let this private photo remain private; we could have avoided the hurtful and divisiveness that has followed. This was all done to what end? To advance a personal agenda and perhaps gain some political advantage. To paraphrase Joseph Welch during a Senate hearing in response to Senator Joseph McCarthy in McCarthy’s quest to find communists under every cover: Mr. Kapoor “have you no decency?”
It wasn’t long ago that in riding around town you saw lawn signs with the saying “Hate Has No Home Here”. I firmly believe the “Politics of Personal Destruction Has No Home Here”. I urge all of Monroe to listen to our better angels and reject this gutter politics and those who practice it.
Note: Frank Dutches is the husband of Debra Dutches, the deputy Republican registrar of voters in town.