The story about Dianne (Delaney) Kozakiewicz, wife of Riverhead town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz, is disturbing on many levels. Obviously, such blatant racism from the wife of a town official is something that is shocking and appalling on its face.
While Bob Kozakiewicz expressed remorse for his wife’s abhorrent conduct on social media, it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t been aware of it. Being oblivious to such blatant and overt racism emanating from his spouse, or worse, being aware and doing nothing about it disqualifies Mr Kozakiewicz from public service. He should resign.
But equally disturbing are the responses from some of Riverhead’s town officials. Town Supervisor Sean Walter seemed to go to great lengths to identify with Christians in seeking to garner sympathy for Mr. Kozakiewicz and find absolution for the despicable acts of Mrs. Kozakiewicz. Worse, Mr. Walters condemns people who shared the racist rant and claims that, by sharing the post, they were equally guilty of “propagating hatred.” This seems more of an attempt to sweep racism under the rug than it is to actually confront the problem. It’s certainly not helpful.
Similarly, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio condemned those who shared the posts, stating, “These ignorant and racist comments have absolutely no place in Riverhead or anywhere else.”
What Mr. Walter and Ms. Giglio seem to be missing is the fact that we probably would not be talking about the problem of racism if people didn’t expose an example of racism within the immediate family of a public official who holds power. Perhaps they prefer we not talk about it.
Most disappointing were the comments made by Highway Superintendent George Woodson who said, “Just because you’re married to somebody doesn’t mean you have the same beliefs. Whatever happened at the pizza place shouldn’t have happened and this post shouldn’t have happened. It all boils down to lack of respect.”
First of all, we don’t even know what happened at the pizza place. But the larger issue with Mr Woodson’s comments is the false equivalence. He says “whatever happened at the pizza place shouldn’t have happened,” but, given the nature of Mrs. Kozakiewicz’s post, it’s safe to say that if the other party had not been black, she would not have gone on her little rant. Mr. Woodson is suggesting that Mrs. Kozakiewicz was somehow justified, because there was “lack of respect” on both sides (again, we don’t even know what happened). This smacks of Donald Trump’s famous “fine people on both sides” comment after Charlottesville.
While I agree Bob Kozakiewicz should not necessarily be judged by the hateful actions of his wife, his position of public trust demands that he be held to a high standard and take some kind of action before his wife’s racists beliefs become splattered across social media.
No, Mr. Woodson, both sides are not equally at fault. Sometimes wrong is just wrong.