Fassuliotis: Time to Stop Deflecting and Apologize

Letter to the editor submitted by Karen Fassuliotis

It is sad that a video has surfaced showing one failed candidate for State Representative from the 151th District gleefully calling another failed candidate running for re-election for State Representative from the 150th District a derogatory name.

What is sadder is the failed candidate from the 151 st District failing to publicly apologize for the language she used in that video.

There is no denying that the words were said. There is a cinematic proof showing them to be said. So why not just apologize and move on? Wouldn’t that be the better political tactic?

Instead, she chose to use the political tactic of deflection – moving the conversation from her own actions by calling out another individual for statements he allegedly said. When accused of something that is undeniably true, deflect the blame by pointing at others.  For those who are not aware, the failed candidate from the 151 st District deflected the
conversation about what she said by claiming she had a run-in at the Greenwich High School homecoming football game with an individual (non-elected) from the opposite party that included his allegedly bragging about his skill with guns. She also admitted that she did not call the police as she did not feel threatened by the remark.

Deflection, as a strategy, is a political tactic used to redirect your action or responsibility away from you toward another person, time, or place. Deflection in and of itself is not bad, and by extension, neither is a deflective colleague, in the right circumstances.
But the use of deflection is not right in this circumstance. The deflection used by this candidate is not positive for our community, is not positive for those that cast their votes in the 150th and 151 st Districts and is not positive for the constituents she continues to serve in our Representative Town Meeting. By side-stepping, rather than being accountable and responsible for her actions, this current RTM Representative from District 8 is only concerned about her own political agenda, whatever that is. Deflect your action by making an accusation against a totally unrelated individual for remarks allegedly said at a different time. By deflecting she is, in essence, telling the people in our town and her district, “I’m not as bad as they say I am, after all, look at the alleged actions of this individual in the other party. What he allegedly said is worse than my name calling of an outgoing incumbent candidate.”

This from the same RTM representative who was quoted in the Greenwich Time as saying, “…we should expect to be held accountable for our words. … If you’re going to be serving … you should strive to create an atmosphere of tolerance and inclusion, regardless of political affiliation. If you’re going to represent our town, you would do well to avoid alienating the public and refrain from needlessly divisive commentary on public forums.”

What is ironic is that the person she was speaking out against in that article apologized publicly for his remarks. This current RTM representative and former candidate for state representative has chosen a different path – deflect and change the subject. No public apology, no accountability.

What is more telling is the silence from the political activists and the head of the political party under which this candidate ran. None have called publicly for an apology, yet they are quick to pounce on anyone else who do not subscribe to their political agenda. Again, it is easy to deflect but not so easy to take responsibility for your words, especially when your words are used against someone who does not agree with your political views.

On Tuesday, November 20th, the Greenwich High School Class of 2022 will take part in a
program called “Names Can Really Hurt Us.”

In a letter to parents, Interim Headmaster Richard Piotrzkowski and NAMES Day Co-Faculty Advisors, Michelle Franks and Dan Robinson stated, “Co-sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and Greenwich High School, “Names” is an all-day workshop that invites students to explore how name-calling and other forms of prejudice can poison the atmosphere at school and lead to serious consequences. . .” I wonder how this RTM representative will explain her actions to her own children. I suspect that she will use the tactic of deflection to justify her explanation.

Perhaps the “Names Can Hurt Us” program should invite her to participate in their workshop so they can point out that deflecting the conversation and refusing to take responsibility for what you say does nothing to promote positive public discourse and debate by public officials.

It is time for her to stop diverting and to take responsibility for her remark with a public apology. Time to practice what she preaches. After all, even high school students see that “Names Can Hurt Us.” Why can she?

Karen Fassuliotis is a current member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation. The views expressed here are her own.