It didn’t take long for members of the Caveman Caucus in the Mahoning Valley to turn the announcement of Congressman Barney Frank’s visit in August into a homophobic rant, peppered with some religious bigotry.
This writer had warned Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras that inviting Frank, one of the most powerful members of Congress, to be the keynote speaker at the major fund-raising event would bring out the worst in this region. It did — as evidenced by the reaction on Vindy.com to last Saturday’s news story. Frank’s sexual orientation and religious roots have nothing to do with his being a member of Congress from Massachusetts, or his serving as the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. And yet, they were the topic of on-line discussions.
Such mindless chatter simply confirms the observation of an outsider who came to work in Youngstown and has since left: Yours is an area that time forgot. While the rest of the nation moves forward, there are individuals determined to keep the Valley in the dark ages.
Their voices must be drowned out by thoughtful residents who recognize the benefits of having a member of Congress of Frank’s standing meet with business, community and political leaders. The financial services committee is playing a key role in the financial regulation reform effort on Capitol Hill, which makes an appearance by Frank timely and important.
It’s one thing to disagree with the congressman’s political ideology or the way the Democrats are leading the country; it’s quite another to indulge in personal attacks. Homophobia and religious bigotry are the hallmarks of little minds.