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PA-15: Republican Charlie Dent accuses Independent Jake Towne of antisemitism


In Pennsylvania’s 15th congressional district, incumbent Republican Charlie Dent is growing ever more desperate, and apparently ever more hysterical, in his attempts to keep independent Jake Towne out of any and all debates. Jon Geeting has been following the story in detail at the Lehigh Valley Independent blog. On Sunday Geeting reported:

Charlie Dent really does not want to debate Jake Towne. On Friday, he worried that voters wouldn’t be able to focus on the contrast between him and [Democratic challenger] John Callahan, and there just wasn’t enough time. Since that “problem” would easily be solved by agreeing to more debates, it looks like they had to switch to the even more preposterous claim that John Callahan would somehow be able to hide behind Jake Towne in the debate. I’m still trying to understand what that even means. But now Dent thinks he has the ultimate excuse to chicken out of the debates – Jake Towne’s choice of bands.

Over the weekend, Dent announced that he would not take part in any forum that included Towne, and demanded that his Democratic rival do the same, on the grounds that one of the numerous bands slated to play at a Towne campaign event celebrating their successful ballot access petition drive has been deemed “extremist” by the Anti-Defamation League. The Morning Call reports:

A day after Dent said that he was unlikely to join a debate that included independent Towne, his campaign manager, Shawn Millan, said Dent had toughened his stance after hearing of Towne’s plan to allow controversial Allentown band Poker Face perform at a fundraiser Friday.

In a written statement Saturday, Dent said the band has been “deemed to be anti-Semitic by the Anti Defamation League.” Poker Face is one of five bands that will play at Towne’s “freedom concert” Friday. . . .

In the statement, Dent also said, he is “demanding” Callahan boycott any debate for the 15th District seat that includes Towne.

“I’m calling on John Callahan to put aside politics and do the decent thing,” Dent said. “Don’t give a public platform to someone enmeshed in ideas of anger, violence, anarchy and bigotry.”

Simply put, the Dent campaign alleges that Towne is an anti-Semite, a bigot and an anarchist based on a loose association with a popular local rock band that has made controversial statements and been deemed politically incorrect by the Anti-Defamation League. I had never heard of the band before and so cannot speak to these allegations. The ADL report can be read here. Apparently, Poker Face appeared on the group’s radar when it was revealed that one of their songs was used in a video made by members of the Hutaree militia group. The band has denied the allegations and provided lengthy responses to the accusations at their website. For his part, Towne released a statement vehemently denying Dent’s racially loaded smears:

I am not an anti-Semite, nor have I ever held anti-Semitic views. I condemn any and all racial and religious discrimination. A free and open society that staunchly defends individual rights is the only type of society that can eliminate racial bigotry. . . . The views of any the five bands present at the Freedom Concert are not necessarily the views of Towne for Congress. If any of the bands were believed to be anti-Semites, they would not have been invited to play at the concert.

In a separate statement, Towne went on the attack, listing Charlie Dent’s criminal history as a member of the House of Representatives

Dent and the rest of Congress violate their constitutional oaths on a daily basis. Dent supports three unconstitutional wars abroad. He votes for corporatist bailouts for bankers and mortgage lenders alike. He supports unconstitutional wiretapping without warrants, revoking habeas corpus, torture of “enemy combatants,” and much more by his unflagging support of the PATRIOT Act. He wants to strip American civilians living in foreign countries of their citizenship and murder them without trial or due process.

With regard to domestic policy, Dent is moreover a staunch supporter of the new anti-immigration bill signed into law in Arizona. In a press release yesterday, Dent condemned the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the state:

Dent sent a letter . . . to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and Department of State Secretary Hillary Clinton explaining his disappointment in the Administration’s troubling approach to addressing illegal immigration. Dent expresses frustration over the federal government’s lawsuit against Arizona . . .

Politico quoted Dent stating:

“I absolutely find it incomprehensible that the Department of Justice could be suing the state of Arizona on this issue of enforcing federal immigration law,” Dent said.

At the very top of his “Endorsements” page, Dent lists the Honorable Pat Toomey. Toomey is also an outspoken proponent of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, as Dan Hirschhorn has reported at PA2010. On this issue, Dent and Toomey do not have the Anti-Defamation League on their side. Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League states flat out:

Let’s be clear: Arizona’s new law is misguided, bigoted, biased and flies in the face of the Constitution and federal immigration law. It is un-American and must be challenged at every opportunity.

Given that Dent slandered Towne as an anti-Semite based on an ADL assessment of statements made by other individuals, what are we to make of Dent’s own position in this regard? Ironically, according to Charlie Dent’s own measuring stick, namely the ADL, his position in support of Arizona’s immigration law reveals him to be nothing more than a misguided, un-American, bigoted racist. Maybe Jake Towne and John Callahan should boycott all events in which the incumbent Republican is allowed to participate. Or maybe we should simply demand that candidates for public office not stoop to the lowest levels of public discourse, mudslinging and character assassination, so as to avoid having to defend their own views in a civilized public debate.


[..] But is Dent also an anti-government extremist? His relations to the local music scene might prove revelatory in this regard. On his official website, Dent celebrates the Bethlehem, PA, Musikfest, calling it part of the area’s “cultural richness” and “America’s Music Festival”:

Historic Bethlehem is a culturally rich area of Northampton County . . . Musikfest, dubbed America’s Music Festival, is a 10-day event each August, which showcases music from every genre imaginable.

This year, Musikfest is being headlined by Sublime with Rome and special guests The Dirty Heads and The Movement. One of The Dirty Heads’ well-known tunes is entitled “Lay Me Down.” It is a love song about a couple who kill a local sheriff while on the run from the police. From the song’s second verse:

They wouldn’t stop running till They found a paradise/ But the sheriff finally found them with his eyes seeing red./ So the lovers had to shoot him down And fill em full of lead/ They were finally free To find a place to lay their head.

Is this the sort of culture that Dent endorses when he praises Bethlehem’s Musikfest as part of the area’s “cultural richness”? In lauding Musikfest as “America’s Music Festival,” does Dent endorse the killing of police? Is Dent an anti-government extremist? According to the logic of the Dent campaign, we may well have to answer all of these questions in the affirmative. I wonder what’s on Dent’s iPod. Is he willing to stand by every statement ever made by all the individuals in his favorite bands?

Of course, only the most intellectually and morally bankrupt individuals would denounce someone for controversial statements allegedly made by someone else. But that seems to be the Dent campaign’s mode of operation at the present moment. And it reeks of desperation.

More at TPID, including a youtubed response from Towne.

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  1. Mike Knapp Mike Knapp August 2, 2010

    Whats more important.

    That the band be Pro- American
    are pro-Semitism or Israel?
    If its at the expense of this country.

    If you look tpast the emotional crap presented by the terrorist outfit called the ADL, Poker Face are die hard America First lovers.

  2. paulie paulie July 29, 2010

    The band is anti-Semitic, so I believe the Congressman may have a point.

    How so? Why should Towne be kept out of debates because of statements he was not aware of made by someone else?

    That is a transparent debate ducking tactic by the incumbent politician.

  3. Aaron Aaron July 29, 2010

    The band is anti-Semitic, so I believe the Congressman may have a point.

  4. d.eris d.eris July 28, 2010

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your point in this case, i.e. reflection of naivete or worse, but I also don’t think it is reasonable to draw conclusions about one group or site’s positions or outlook based solely on the positions/outlook of groups they link to, especially when dealing with something like a rock band or other artistic expression.

  5. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman July 27, 2010

    d.eris – IPR is a news site that covers third party news, and I suppose that is why it links to PSL and other totalitarian parties. Can’t say I approve of that in any case.

    Poker Face on the other hand clearly is linking to sites it thinks are important, and the links to 9/11 truther sites and to the Barnes Review reflect something – possibly only naivete but possibly something worse.

  6. d.eris d.eris July 27, 2010

    I get your point re: links, but I think it is pretty weak. IPR links to the websites of the Party for Socialism and Liberation as well the Alaskan Independence Party. But that does not mean IPR, its supporters and contributors, and everyone who links to IPR, are part of a radical anti-capitalist revolutionary movement dedicated to the secession of Alaska from the Union so it can form its own sovereign country.

  7. d.eris d.eris July 27, 2010

    Interestingly, the Democrat in this race, John Callahan, has previously and now again accused Dent of associations with an allegedly anti-Semitic group. The Morning Call reports:

    “Callahan turned the tables on Dent, repeating a question he posed 1 1/2 months ago about Dent’s ties to a former White House aide to President Nixon aide embroiled in an anti-Semitism controversy. red Malek, whose role in ridding the Nixon administration of Jews was detailed in documents the National Archives recently posted, is chairman of the American Action Network. The nonprofit group promote a conservative agenda and has aired commercials in support of Dent’s campaign. Callahan’s campaign has issued a statement, calling on Dent to tell the group to stay out of the race. But Dent’s campaign dismissed the charge, noting that the group’s founder is Jewish and that national director of the Anti Defamation League calls Malek “a friend.””

  8. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman July 27, 2010

    Sad to say, the Poker Face website has a link to the Barnes Review, founded by Willis Carto after he lost control of the Journal of Historical Review. Also a link to American Free Press, which many see as a successor to the Spotlight.

    Poker Face is also apparently involved in the 9-11 Truth Movement, judging by other links on their site.

    These links may reflect political naivete, but the Barnes Review definitely reflects an anti-semitic form of “revisionist” history that apologizes for the foreign policy of the Third Reich. Mr Towne should talk to these guys, or dump them.

  9. paulie paulie July 27, 2010

    Thanks for writing it! And, I agree with you completely. Dent’s use of guilt by association to duck debates is deplorable.

  10. d.eris d.eris July 27, 2010

    Thanks for posting this paulie. Jake Towne’s supporters have also begun flooding local newspapers denouncing the Dent campaign’s smears and standing up for the independent.

    Jordan White of Nazareth writes: “I am the singer for KineticBlu, one of the bands performing at Jake Towne’s “Freedom Concert” on Friday to raise funds for his campaign.

    In Saturday’s Express-Times article, a spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League implied that Poker Face, a band also performing at the event, is anti-Semitic and xenophobic.

    My band and I would never agree to perform at any function where the notion of such hate exists, nor would we support any cause of that nature.

    I have known Towne since the seventh grade. He is of excellent character and a true gentleman. I know he will do a fantastic job when elected.”

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