I was among several people who visited the offices of Councilman Vincent Gentile (District 43) in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on December 20th, asking him to publicly repudiate the contemptible comments made by Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean two weeks earlier, who asserted during a radio interview that the war was not winnable.
While many Democrats had the courage to immediately condemn Dean’s preposterous claims, Councilman Gentile was not among them – despite the fact that his district in Brooklyn is home to the only active military installation in the city of New York (Fort Hamilton) as well as the VA Hospital on Poly Place.
In the month since, Mr. Gentile continues to be what I can only characterize as a model of arrogance. No statements have been issued and no responses to our initial inquiries have been proffered, despite assurances from his Chief of Staff to the contrary.
Mr. Gentile’s people-skills have, indeed, proven to be astounding.
If, indeed, silence is golden, Mr. Gentile is well on his way to making a killing on the commodity exchange. While it is clear this is an issue that should be apolitical, one can reasonably conclude that Gentile is bound by some sort of injudicious party allegiance (or influence) that keeps him from doing what’s clearly right. I cannot help but question whether or not Councilman Gentile is aware that he is privileged enough to represent more military personnel in his Brooklyn district than many United States Congressional representatives do.
Opportunity after opportunity has been afforded to the Councilman to comment on this matter, but he chooses to keep the mute button engaged. Whether he is shoving the apple in his own mouth or there are greater, more influential forces at work, there can be no question that his credibility erodes with each passing day. He needs to open his mouth for something other than a fundraiser or a photo-op at a local eatery.
While Howard Dean’s comments late last year were both shameful and despicable, they were, most notably, wrong. The United States military are the greatest and most efficient fighting force the world has ever known. What must Mr. Dean think of the brave Americans who have volunteered to lay their lives on the line for this nation to spew such twaddle?
Through his silence, Mr. Gentile is complying with Howlin’ Howie’s garbage. The very least Mr. Gentile can do is stand up for the brave men and women who serve their nation honorably – including many in his own district – by resolutely denouncing the ramblings of a man better known for his straight-jacket tightening screams than his sound critical analyses.
Let us now see, the second time around, how long it will take to incite a response from the Gentile camp, deep in the heart of flag-waving, patriotic Bay Ridge … if at all.
I ask again, sir: “What say you, Mr. Gentile?”