To the editor:
I grew up in Saranac Lake and now live in New Paltz, where I go to school and come home for my winter and summer breaks. During my first year attending SUNY New Paltz, I realized how much I really do love my hometown. When my friends from home and I would start getting close to friends from other places, we'd always (and still do) tell them they have to come up to the Adirondacks to experience the beauty and the way of life. Needless to say, I am proud of my roots.
However, something happened recently that made me very ashamed and embarrassed to say I'm from Saranac Lake. On Oct. 23, the arrest of Mouhamed Mbaye was posted on the Saranac Lake Police Department's Facebook page. Frank Whitelaw, an Essex County coroner, commented on the post saying that the man's lawyer, "Shish Kabob Bababooey had nothing to say on the matter." He then proceeded to refer to people as "turds" and saying he didn't care.
Don't misunderstand me here - I believe the arrest was valid. People get arrested when the break the law, and most of the time it is justified.
While we're at it, let's get another thing straight: "Mouhamed" (and all other spelling variations) is the most popular name in the entire world. It belongs to people of every race, ethnicity and color you could possibly imagine. Whitelaw obviously believes it only belongs to only Middle Eastern people and also obviously has a prejudice against them. The worst part is, he's not afraid to post it on social media and put it on display for everyone to see. The detail that makes Whitelaw the ultimate ignorant white man is that Mbaye isn't even Middle Eastern; he's black. Whitelaw just made a complete 360-degree in bigotry, folks.
Many people, including myself, made a big stink about this on Facebook and other social media, and within 24 hours Whitelaw's comments were deleted from the post. While I do feel this was a responsible decision by the SLPD, it is merely damage control. It does not fix the fact that there is a man in a position of power who lacks the smarts and self-control to know better than to share such ideas in places where everyone can see them.
On Oct. 25, Whitelaw shared yet another ignorant post on his personal Facebook page. He posted a picture of his sink, saying, "Since EVERYTHING offends EVERYONE...........here's a benign picture of my kitchen sink. I apologize to porcelain, stone and polymer sinks in advance." I will say it again: The problem is not that "EVERYTHING offends EVERYONE"; the problem is that we have a racist in a position of power on our hands.
Whitelaw is an elected official, and I believe he is running for office again. I am only registered to vote in Ulster County, but Saranac Lake will always be my home. As a person who loves this area and has faith in its citizens, I beseech you not to vote for Whitelaw on Election Day. If you are still questioning whom you're going to pull the lever for, keep this in mind: Choosing Whitelaw means that some good ol' boy on a power trip with a gun actually has authority over you - he might even be the one to declare you dead. Not to mention the fact that you'll be rooting to keep a bigoted individual in office. Please understand the impact of your vote, and above all realize exactly what you are doing and what you represent. After all, you are the citizens who have to live with the consequences.
New Paltz and Saranac Lake