ANGLAND: After 22 Years of Names Day at GHS, Suddenly the Greenwich RTC Has a Problem with It?

Submitted by Joe Angland, Chair, Greenwich Democratic Town Committee

Dear Editor,

The Greenwich Republican Party’s departure from its conservative traditions–or even a modicum of civility–has been well-documented in both national and local media. But their downward descent took a perilous lurch this week when they attacked the Anti-Defamation League on social media.

The attack came in the context of a venerable Greenwich High School (GHS) tradition called Names Day. Names Day is the two-decade-old signature program designed to give a voice to the targets of bullying, build empathy in the perpetrators, and inspire bystanders to become upstanders against prejudice and bullying. The program originated with the ADL and takes place at high schools nationally. Names Day has literally changed students’ lives, as illustrated in a recently published, eloquent remembrance from a 2011 GHS graduate.

And it is especially poignant in a year when the Town of Greenwich paid $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a GHS sophomore who tragically took his own life to escape years of bullying.

But suddenly, 22 years into this program, the Greenwich Republican Party has a problem with it. Why? On March 6, the Town Republican Party tweeted that the ADL had become a “far left organization” guilty of “regressive ideals” and recommending that parents opt their children out of the Names Day program. This Tweet followed a more vitriolic email sent by their sister organization, the “Greenwich Patriots,” which accused the ADL of abandoning its mission because it had criticized statements made by former President Donald Trump, because of its support for LGBTQ+ and Black civil rights, and because of its stance against banning books.

The ADL, founded in 1913, is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. The Greenwich Republican Party accuses the ADL of having strayed from its mission. They level the same accusations against the Greenwich League of Women Voters, the YWCA of Greenwich, and even our private schools. Perhaps it is not these organizations that have strayed from their mission, but the Greenwich Republican Party that has lost its way.

The Greenwich Democratic Town Committee embraces all members of our community regardless of race, religion or identity. We applaud GHS for maintaining the tradition of Names Day. We thank our civic organizations for their work to advance civil rights. And we call on our Town leaders to join us in denouncing the intolerable Tweet by the Greenwich Republican Party.

Joe Angland
Chair, Greenwich Democratic Town Committee