Letter submitted by Greenwich Democratic Selectman Sandy Litvack, Jan 26, 2019
The first Selectman has made it clear that his decision to make Town Hall available to Carl Higbie to conduct, what he terms, a “public forum” rests on his optimistic hope that there can and will be a civil discourse, which we all agree should be encouraged. Representative Camillo, who has now determined that he will be too busy in Hartford that evening to attend the event (leaving Mr. Tesei as the lone elected official to host the event) has asserted that he too believes this forum is a good opportunity for a “civil exchange of ideas and perspectives.” Really? Carl Higbie and civil discourse? The two do not mix. In fact the record suggests that is an oxymoron.
Hoping that I could find support for the notion that there has been some change in Higbie’s repugnant views and that there could be a civil discourse on important topics, I decided to take a look at what Mr. Higbie was publicly saying now, not just in 2013. The first thing I learned is that he still doesn’t think being a transsexual is a “real thing” but rather simply “pretend.” I also learned while looking for evidence that one could have a civil discourse with Carl Higbie, his idea of “civil” seemingly includes calling democrats “dumbasses,” Nancy Pelosi “an idiot,” Jeff Flake “a turd” and others he disagreed with either an “asshole” or a “snow flake.” He calls an individual with a nose ring an “it” and asks “WTF is wrong with society?” And, all of this is only in the last two months.
I am all for civil discourse but it has to be with people who have shown that they can engage in it. Carl Higbie has shown quite the opposite. He has shown hatred and mocked those with whom he disagrees or he sees as lesser people. Perhaps most telling, he proudly touts the fact that he hung a sign across a garage proclaiming “YOU ARE THE WORST NEIGHBOR EVER,” with crude emoticons on the sign because his neighbor allegedly complains “too much.” This apparently is Carl Higbie’s version of civil discourse.
The plan to have Carl Higbie conduct a forum for his commercial venture at our Greenwich Town Hall, endorsed by our First Selectman and Representative Fred Camillo, is simply a bridge too far for most of us.
Carl Higbie holds the dubious distinction of being the only person forced to resign from the Trump Administration for being too racist. His racist, sexist and homophobic comments have been well documented and I need not repeat a litany of them here. Despite their repugnance, Higbie has never claimed that he was misquoted (which would have been hard to do since he posted them) or asserted (as is so often done) that the remarks were “taken out of context.” No, he ha simply said that he regrets the comments and has claimed that they, allegedly, do not “reflect who I am.” I have no doubt he regrets those particular comments – they have cost him his job and public ignominy–but unfortunately, the remarks reflect exactly “who he is.”
It is important to note the repulsiveness of Carl Higbie is not merely the words he has used but rather the hatred behind them. Thus, it is not as Representative Camillo, and a few others, have mistakenly claimed that his “words were poorly chosen.” No. What good words are there to convey the repugnant views he has espoused? The answer is–none. And, let’s be clear: This is not a mere social faux pas. It is not forgetting to say “please” when making a request. These words, which were repeated many times, were used to reflect a point of view and prejudice that runs deep.
Having said that the venom he spews is abhorrent, I feel strongly that he has the right to espouse his views however obnoxious I and others may find them. BUT he does not have the right to do so at our Town Hall, paid for by the taxpayers, and he should not have the backing of our officials, who by their presence, give legitimacy to him and his ilk. I have publicly stated that I would not welcome Carl Higbie to our Town Hall any more than I would David Duke. Mr. Higbie has chafed at that, noting that I have never met him. That is true and I have also never met David Duke either. However I do not have to meet either of them to know who they are and what they stand for. They have both publicly told me.
Peter Tesei and Fred Camillo should understand that the objections of so many to them hosting the likes of Carl Higbie in our public Town Hall is not about free speech. Greenwich is a town of diversity, and tolerance, with a welcoming attitude toward all. Carl Higbie plainly and openly neither stands for nor embraces that view. Sad as that may be, Messers. Tesei and Camillo must accept that reality and decline to afford him either the Town’s or, as public officials, their imprimatur.