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Rep. Nan Hayworth's Silence in Townsend 'Acid Attack' Controversy Chilling to Women Everywhere

By June 4, 2012

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Certain words, phrases, and actions are incendiary and cause controversy when invoked because they are exclusively applied to a certain group of individuals and imply a desire to do harm or violence.

Lynching targets African Americans and gassing brings to mind Jews and "the final solution" in Hitler's concentration camps; even casual jokes about rape target women and girls, rarely males.

So when Jay Townsend, an experienced political operative who ran against Chuck Schumer for the Senate seat for New York, posted a comment on a Facebook discussion page about hurling acid at female Democratic senators, he knew he would rile people up.

And he knew very well that it would invoke images of acid attacks, those heinous crimes in which women and girls are doused or sprayed with acid by men whose objective is to oppress and subjugate females in so-called 'traditional' societies.

Certainly political exchanges get heated. But Townsend most recently has been aligned with the re-election campaign of Rep. Nan Haywood, a Republican who represents the 19th Congressional District of New York which encompasses the lower Hudson River Valley.

He has, in fact, been serving as her spokesperson.

So when a public figure who is associated with a female member of Congress invokes an image of an acid attack on those women he politically opposes, isn't he promoting a form of violence against women? And wouldn't you think that perhaps his candidate would come out strongly against his statement and say that violence against women -- implied in any form -- is unacceptable?

Townsend posted the 'hurl acid' statement back in May and it made headlines last Friday. Not only was Townsend vilified in the blogosphere, but Hayworth was criticized for not saying anything.

After a weekend of steady activity in social media circles with the story shared on Facebook and Twitter, Townsend has issued an apology that many still criticize but which is at least adequate...while Hayworth's campaign merely responded by pointing fingers and claiming "it's the media's fault" for turning this into something big.

The representative herself has yet to speak out on the issue...although she scrubbed her Facebook page clean of the hundreds of critical comments about her non-response.

When I initially shared the story on Facebook, I wrote, "Every time I've written about those men in certain Middle East nations who throw acid on schoolgirls and teachers to stop them from obtaining an education, I've thought to myself that we're so fortunate to have none of that nonsense happening here. Alas, I was woefully naive and not aware of what the GOP was up to."

I want to edit the above statement because this is not a story about the entire GOP, but merely one ill-spoken individual who should have known better. I don't see this as part of the "war on women" but one stupid misstep by a man who forgot he wasn't just a private citizen shooting off his mouth. As the publicly identified spokesperson of an elected official, Townsend should be held to a higher standard of behavior and not act as a provocateur or advocate of violence against women -- even if  it was "not meant to be taken literally" as the Haywood campaign claims.

The good news is that Townsend has "manned up" and taken responsibility for his comments. The bad news is that Rep. Hayworth, the woman he serves as spokesperson, hasn't disavowed his comments or reprimanded him in any way.

This is not the type of woman I want representing me in Congress.

With only 16% of Congress represented by female members, she needs to do much better so that more women can join the ranks and improve that lopsided statistic.  By failing to act decisively, she fails not only her constituents but women across the nation whose best interests she should be serving...not ignoring out of cowardice. If her silence continues, she might as well kiss her seat in Congress goodbye.

UPDATE: Shortly after I posted the above, Townsend submitted his resignation (follow the link below for details.) Haywood has yet to say anything publicly about the incident, choosing instead to let her campaign team do the talking.

For the entire story, read:

Townsend's 'Acid Attack' Comment Burns Rep. Hayworth's Re-election Campaign

Comments

June 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm
(1) Chris Pawelski says:

In the wake of his resignation Monday, Hayworth said the public debate should ‘return to talking about issues that really matter to families: job creation, spending restraint and economic development.’”.

This quote is once again indicative of the fact that Hayworth holds no personal remorse for what Townsend said, she doesn’t “get it” and once again she is immediately trying to deflect and minimize the issue.

The story now is, what took “Taliban Nan” so long?

1. I have yet to see her issue a full throated and sincere apology for this neanderthal’s bone headed and despicable comments.

2. Why was the initial statement released by her campaign manger filled with finger pointing at everyone except Townsend and herself? Doesn’t the buck stop with her?

3. Why did it take 10 days for any action to be taken in regards to Townsend? And she didn’t fire him. He resigned. I wouldn’t put that as a “job well done” by Hayworth.

So, this story is far from over. Of course the other issues of how she is a terrible overall representative for the district are still of importance. And no one is going to forget this little window into her total integrity and character, or should I say total lack thereof.

Now where is the MSM on this?

June 4, 2012 at 5:54 pm
(2) Chris Pawelski says:

I’m a farmer that lives in Rep. Hayworth’s district and for 16 years I have been very active in public policy issues involving ag on the local, state and federal level, working with elected officials on both sides of the aisle. I have met with Hayworth multiple times and I can tell you she is the most dismal person I have ever dealt with. Period. This statement by Townsend and, more importantly, the response by Hayworth, or lack of an apology, her not firing him, her team scrubbing comments off her campaign and Congressional FB page (thousands of comments were deleted and eventually people were blocked from commenting), is just par for the course for her and her crew. She is a disturbing individual.

If you go to the FB page where Townsend posted his twisted comments you can read some of the things I allude to. Just scroll back to the beginning of the thread and also check out other threads on the page. I should add that on the page that Townsend posted on I was one of the posters that he attacked in the two threads. He told me that I “had a bug up my butt.” Weirdo!

Again, why hasn’t she apologized? Why does she characterize his comments about hurling acid into the faces of her cross chamber/cross aisle colleagues as an issue that evidently doesn’t “really matter?” Why did it take her so long to act? Heck, she technically still hasn’t acted.

On the thread and on the website you can find lots of posts and comments about how Hayworth has scrubbed comments from her websites, thrown people out at her district offices, gotten into arguments with constituents on the radio, talked about “looking for enemies within the government,” etc…. You can also find video of today’s stories, including where Becker tried to present his letter to her staff but they weren’t even allowed to park in the office parking lot.

Links:

http://www.facebook.com/NY19CDC/posts/419354794763507

and

http://www.facebook.com/NY19CDC/posts/419085698123750

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