Thursday, September 03, 2009

Stamford Bishop heckled at town hall meeting

Rep. Jim Himes (CT-04) held an open town hall meeting in Norwalk last night to share ideas about the current health care issue.

During the meeting, Stamford Bishop Emilio Alvarez asked a question in Spanish. The bishop knows that Himes is fluent in Spanish, having been born in Peru and spending some of his childhood in various South American countries.

The town hall audience of roughly 1,200 people were made up of a clear majority of voters who support health care reform. But there was a very vocal minority of anti-reform people who reacted loudly to Bishop Alvarez's question.

Fairfield County, which comprises a large part of the 4th congressional district, has roughly 11% Spanish-speaking residents, and according to the 2000 census only 76% of the population considers English their first language.

Yet throughout the course of the evening, only a single question was asked in Spanish, and it elicited a near-hysterical reaction from the anti-reform crowd. Listen to the anger in the video, and Himes's measured response to their naked hostility:

24 comments:

Chris MC said...

outstanding demonstration by Himes. Thanks for posting that one Bob.
Helluva crowd too - how many people would you say were in that hall?

Chris MC said...

also saw him at the Young Dems this week accepting their RFK award, did well there too.

West Haven Bob said...

The actions of the few are truly disgusting....do they think their opinion is the only that should be heard?

Anonymous said...

very disturbing.

Kirby said...

This is just plain sad. I am --stunning for me -- almost at a loss for words. Where has all the hate come from?

tessa said...

I have not recovered yet from last night in Norwalk to write up my notes. I was severely shocked and angry. There was simply no control of the crowds and no way to eject the disruptive individuals.

Actually, there were about 20 male disruptive people, spaced throughout the auditorium, each seated with three or four women and a few men who followed along. The Disrupter would shout, and then be cheered by their support team.

I suppose that is a sort of Organized Plan. But they were weaklings, if you looked closely.

Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Booing a member of the clergy is decidedly poor form under any circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Himes was very impressive. Many in the crowd were an embarrassment. How can adults behave so badly in public? One woman had to leave with her two middle school children because the language was so bad. People should behave better. Yelling and heckling and swearing didn't help get anything constructive done.

Anonymous said...

to Authentic CT Republican - the member of the clergy didn't identify himself and was speaking infront of an English speaking crowd who could not understand him. They asked him to speak in English and he ignored them and spoke exclusively to Himes in Spanish and ignored their request and continued in Spanish. He was being inconsiderate to those who asked him repeatedly to speak in English so they could understand his question and his comment. It was a public forum and he was speaking to a crowd and people wanted to hear and understand him. He chose to ignore them and speak only to Jim Himes in a one-on-one "private" conversation and it came across as rude. Some people were rude in yelling but the reverend was not faultless in this situation.

CT Bob said...

Anonymous - if you watch the video again, Bishop Alvarez clearly identified himself and asked if he could address Rep. Himes in his first language.

carterman said...

It really does not matter if he identified himself or not. You treat people with respect.

That being said, I'd like to borrow a quote from an old friends mother who said, "make no time for the stupid."

Skydogct said...

The clergyman is a genious. His question exposed these people for what they are - ignorant and racist. People had no right in shouting racist remarks, one even yelled "shoot him", possibly a criminal act. Anyone with sense knew that Jim Himes would translate the question. The argument that people just wanted to understand is weak. They deserve condemnation, not defense. Thank you Bob for capturing that.

ctyankee said...

Although there is no 'official' language in the US, he should have asked his question in English.

Clearly this was a tactic to inflame the portion of the audience hat was there to inform the Congressman that his views are contrary to that the people, the people he represents, want from government.

The question was the same question that's been asked again and again, therefore the content was quite irrelevant. The medium was the message.

The message I'd like to sent the Congressman is: Do something about the illegals!

Kirby said...

Question was the same that has been asked again and again? His question was about clergy members not having access to health insurance because they are often the only FT employee of their congregation. I've been following this pretty closely, and have not heard from a clergy member before.

And if people were so concerned that they couldn't understand, why didn't they yell, "Translate!"?

Anonymous said...

if people were "inflamed" by a pastor speaking a language other than english in a land that refers to itself as a melting pot, then there is something seriously wrong with our society.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to everyone that posted a comment here - except for "the one" that obviously didn't watch the entire clip.
You were supportive of the obvious point of this clip which had nothing to do with reform but everything to do with the behavior of the hecklers.
I was extremely stunned and sickened but your comments made me realize that not all Americans are this hateful and intolerant. Nor do they all disrespect anything, or anyone, that is different. Thank you!!

desertwind said...

So, who's the guy on the far right of the front row who half-stood as he turns around and yells out to the people behind him, "They're taking over our country"?

Anonymous said...

Clearly, Himes was most inconsiderate to the rest of the (English-speaking) crowd. Alvarez’s “title” holds no special consideration (for me)… he’s not my bishop, and it has no impact on the “politics” of the matter. He was (intentionally or not) provocative by alienating the crowd (I don’t care that there is a translation later) and Himes was provocative by allowing it.

degli said...

Many of you need to come and spend some time in L.A. People like this bishop creep are a dime a dozen here. A Hispanic variant of Al Sharpton.

Anonymous said...

People were inflamed, IMO, because he chose to speak in a language that he knew most would not understand. He spoke English fluently but chose to ignore the audience and speak as if they were not there. That is generally considered rude no matter where you are from. I believe the audience understood the slight and reacted to it.

Anonymous said...

I was at the town hall meeting.
Bishop Alvarez could speak English and should have. If you want respect you need to give respect and surely a Bishop should know that. He thoroughly enjoyed "agitating" the audience. It was pure theater on his part and people reacted as they would at a bad performance.This was not an angry, racist crowd. As a matter of fact, the next speaker asked if he could ask his question in Italian and everyone laughedl!! Time at these meetings is extremely limited and there is no extra time alloted for antics. On another point..it seemed to me that the crowd was pretty equally divided between pros and cons but I only saw pro healthcare people coming off of the busses.

Anonymous said...

what the hell is wrong with you people? the bishop and himes both speak spanish. it was cute. if there was a translation afterward, then no big deal. how about apologizing for racism and forgetting immigration is the backbone of this country?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think that anyone who wishes to truly participate in the process ought to be comfortable speaking English. This jerk was attempting to do nothing other than get a reaction. Mission accomplished. Oh, and there is nothing racist about being upset that the guy spoke Spanish. Racism is the belief that a person or people are superior or inferior based on their race, or a policy that is based on race. Being upset because this spoke in a language other than the one in which this forum was being conducted is not racism at all.

Sharon Bass said...

I felt I was watching a meeting in Texas or Kansas. These empty-headed hateful teabaggers probably don't realize -- or want to realize -- that they are screwing themselves having been effectively brainwashed by Fox & F(f)riends.Thanks Bob.