I wrote the following letter on Thursday and sent it in to The Malone Telegram...but it hasn't yet been published there, so I'm now posting it here...
UPDATE (1/30/14): The Telegram printed my letter today.
To the editor:
It seems that two extreme cold fronts have settled on New York State: one blast from the arctic, and the other from Albany.
It was a phone call on Tuesday from a friend in Georgia which alerted me to some extraordinarily troubling comments made by Governor Andrew Cuomo last Friday. It seems that the press in the Peach Sate recognized their import long before it did here in the Empire State…and when I finally saw something about it in this newspaper on Thursday—almost a week later, the very same day the venerable New York Times also first found them worthy of note—the Governor’s words were summarized and thereby softened.
What exactly did our Governor say? “Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are” (in a public radio interview, January 17, 2014).
I am aware that Governor Cuomo was speaking about his potential GOP rivals in the next gubernatorial election, but he was painting with a very broad brush.
I do not own a gun, and I wouldn’t say I am “pro-assault weapon” by any means, but I do support the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. I am not at all “anti-gay,” and will not condone bigotry against any group whatsoever, although I cannot support the legalization of same-sex marriage. I am, however, thoroughly “right-to-life,” believing in the sacred dignity of the human person from the first moment of conception until a natural death. If that makes me “extreme,” so be it; I have been called by worse names. But I am also a New Yorker, through and through, and am profoundly disturbed to hear that there is “no place” in the state that I have always called my home for me or others like me who deeply cherish human life at its most vulnerable.
I appreciate the increased attention—mostly in financial form—that our Governor has been giving to the North Country. But I cannot support his claim made in Tuesday’s State of the State speech that there’s a “different feeling” now in the region. No amount of money can buy my feelings. If we once felt “abandoned and isolated, [like we] weren’t even a part of New York, [like we] couldn’t even relate to Albany,” then how are comments such as those made last Friday supposed to make us feel any differently? Baby, it’s cold outside…and it’s getting colder!
I am a New Yorker who wants to believe in New York. I would hope that New York can also respect what I believe.
Fr. Joseph Giroux
Pastor, Malone Catholic Parishes