12-7-2017-1-13-06-PM-7971245

The bullying of Sharon Brannigan

Palos Township Trustee Sharon Brannigan made some mildly

offensive comments on her personal Facebook page way back in January 2015

about “Middle Easterners” that were less about racism and more about the fears

many Americans share.

It took two and half years for Brannigan’s

critics, mostly Muslim activists, to accuse her of “anti-Muslim” racism.

The timing looks suspicious to me. Something else is going

on that the protesters are not addressing.

Brannigan is Republican. Palos Township is Republican. The

township leadership has openly defied the tax policies of Cook County Board

President Toni Preckwinkle, a do-nothing former Democratic Machine alderman

from the South Side.

Preckwinkle and several Democratic officials have provided

support, both financially and politically, to some of the anti-Brannigan

protesters.

Preckwinkle had reason to target Brannigan. She hoped

Brannigan’s comments would stymie the opponents of her

oppressive, penny-an-ounce sweetened beverage tax.

In fact, it was the combined support of the Palos Township

Republican Organization, including Brannigan and others, who were the

foundation of the campaign led by Cook County Board Commissioner Sean

Morrison that blocked the Preckwinkle tax. It’s something I will write more

about soon.

Morrison, also the Palos Township Republican committeeman,

thwarted Preckwinkle at every turn. Morrison is responsible for leading the

non-partisan Republican and Democratic movement that in July revoked the soda

pop tax imposed by Preckwinkle.

Interestingly, the protesters began targeting Brannigan at

the same time, in July.

It is true that Muslims in America and Christian

Arabs like myself face racism. I’m an Orthodox Christian from a Bethlehem

family, raised and confirmed Lutheran.

But none of Brannigan’s comments came even close to the

intensity of the racist hate that faces Muslims in this country. Brannigan was

legitimately concerned about this country’s failed immigration system, one that

Democrats like Preckwinkle and U.S. Rep. Luis GutiŽrrez (D-4th) have

exploited for their own personal benefit.

If the immigration problem is ever resolved, many

of these do-nothing elected officials would have nothing to “champion.” They

really don’t want the immigration problem resolved.

Preckwinkle knows Brannigan, and she immediately bullied

Brannigan to step down from her volunteer position on the county’s Commission

on Women’s Issues.

The word “bullied” is very appropriate in this controversy.

Since July, protesters have crowded meetings of the Palos

Township Board–screaming, yelling and making threats, demanding that

Preckwinkle’s foe, Brannigan, resign.

Videos of the meetings showing protesters yelling and

screaming are disturbing. I know some of the protesters, and most are good

people. They are being pushed by extremists who hope to disrupt the township,

which spends most of its time providing badly needed services to seniors and

homeowners in general.

Despite the disruptive conduct of the protesters, Brannigan

and the board have politely allowed each and every protester to speak, even

allowing them to take over the meeting.

Brannigan issued a strongly worded and sincere apology to

the Muslim and Arab community in September. The protesters called it “too

little, too late.” The truth is, it was her third apology that they

rejected. She had apologized back in July, too.

Many of the protesters don’t care about racism. They don’t

care about the township’s seniors. They don’t care about good government. But

they do care about politics and avenging Preckwinkle for the shaming she

received from Palos Township officials who led the fight to defend the rights

of Cook County taxpayers.

Muslims and Arabs in this area continue to face

discrimination, including the adoption of a state law recently that

punishes them if they criticize Israel’s abuses of Muslims and Christians in

the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

That’s an issue they should be fighting. But you won’t

see any of them in Gov. Rauner’s offices, at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s offices, or

even Preckwinkle’s offices. They might not get those precious government grants

and support they are used to.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist and former

Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at [email protected]

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