In a speech given in 2004 at the 7th Annual Conference of the Dominican-American National Roundtable, Director of Syracuse University’s Latino-Latin American Studies Institute, Dr. Silvio Torres-Saillant , described a phenomenon that I have come to call “The Psychopathology of Latino Leadership.”  The psychopathology usually manifests itself when our Latino brothers and sisters become administrators, policy makers or take on positions of leadership and “come under scrutiny for any bias toward their people.”  Dr. Torres-Saillant goes on to say that “this can produce a compulsion to show otherwise” and that “the trick of that psychopathology is that the easiest way to prove that you are not favoring your people is by displaying your readiness to harm them.” 

However, I have to come to realize that Latinos' “readiness to harm their own” is only one of the symptoms since I have identified three additional symptoms that can be used to determine if the phenomenon has manifested.   And they are Infection, self Interest and reaction to similar actions from members of other communities.

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Let’s start with the first one.

Readiness to harm their own

This phenomenon manifested itself in the County of Passaic hours after all Latino elected officials of the City of Paterson decided to stay neutral in the looming New Jersey 9th Congressional District Primary.

In the aftermath of their decision, various administrators, elected officials, and politically connected individuals of Latino descent, began to pour their disgust of our Latino elected leaders’ decision with the vilest sentiments onto the pages of Facebook.  For instance:

  1. A failed Latino candidate for Paterson School Board and Council at Large wrote: “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”
  2. A Latino Councilwoman from Passaic agreed, “What a great quote!”
  3. A politically connected Latino who resides in Clifton posted on his page, “I will be neutral in Paterson in May election too.”
  4. A Latino, who claims to be an Aide to an Assemblyman from Paterson, wrote a three paragraph declaration where he stated that the decision of our Latino elected leaders was “being made without the best interest of the people of Paterson in mind.” He went as far as blaming them for the City’s skyrocketing tax rate and called them “inept”.

More than likely, none of these people were asked or forced to do this, however, as explained above; the trick of the psychopathology is to “display their readiness to harm” their own.  And so they did.

Infection

Once other communities witnessed that our own people are willing to harm their own, they will too.  So individuals from other communities began to also post their negative comments onto their Facebook pages:

  1. An unemployed British National from Paterson reposted the following quote in all of our Latino elected officials’ page, “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”  He also sent them emails that could be considered to be harassment.
  2. A white political leader from Clifton stated “Here is my quote of the day "NO MAS FALSOS".......we either work ALL together as ONE TEAM........or we get rid of the fakers, who pretend that they are part of the Party when it swuits their needs.................NO MAS FALSOS.........”
  3. An Arab-American, who purports himself as an Aide to an Assemblyman from Paterson chimed in with, “Great Quote!”
  4. An Italian American from Paterson also agrees and writes, “Great quote!!!”

How dare these individuals, who have done nothing and more than likely have been obstacles to Latino political representation, attack or even judge our Latino elected leaders? 

The reason why they dare to do so is simply because we have Latinos who displayed their readiness to harm their own people and that gives other communities the nerve to attempt to harm us as well.

Self Interest

Even though, both Latinos and non-Latino attackers purported that our Latino elected leaders’ decision was based on self interests; none of Latino Elected Officials are employed by any sphere of government or government funded institution.  On the other hand, the Latinos suffering from the phenomenon and the non-Latinos that were infected do depend on government jobs – specifically Passaic County jobs - and thus have a very self-serving interest in the results of the elections.  For instance:

  1. The failed Latino candidate for Paterson Council at Large is an administrator at Passaic County Community College
  2. The City of Passaic Councilwoman works for a union
  3. The politically connected Latino who resides in Clifton is employed by the Passaic County Board of Social Services
  4. The Latino, who claims to be an Aide to an Assemblyman from Paterson, works for Passaic County Administration
  5. The unemployed British National is looking to land a job
  6. The white political leader from Clifton also works for the Passaic County Board of Social Services
  7. The Arab-American who also purports himself as an aide to an Assemblyman from Paterson works for Passaic County Technical Institute
  8. The Italian American is a double dipper who receives a paycheck from both the City of Paterson and Passaic County Community College.

All have government or government related jobs.  Whose pocket might be hit negatively if the winds of political power were to change?  Not the pockets of our Latino Elected Officials.

Reaction to Similar Actions by Members of Other Communities

The third and last symptom that proves that this ailment has affected our Latino brothers and sisters’ judgment is to compare and contrast their reaction to similar actions of individuals from other communities.  For instance,  City of Paterson Mayor, Jeff Jones, has neither endorsed Congressman Pascrell or Congressman Rothman, which means he is staying neutral. However, not a peep was heard or written by the Latino individuals mentioned above.  Furthermore, when City of Passaic Council-President and Assemblyman Gary Schaer fully endorsed Congressman Rothman no attacks or threats were promoted against him.  On the other hand, the City of Passaic Latino Councilwoman went as far as stating that she “respects” Assemblyman Schaer’s decision to support Congressman Rothman.  This shows an extremely contrasting difference in their reaction.  How can they attack other Latinos, but show respect for the same actions of non-Latinos?

Additionally, I have yet to read or hear an African-American tell Jones that he will go to hell for his decision or any member of the Jewish community tell Assemblyman Schaer that he “will stay neutral during his election” for endorsing Congressman Rothman. Of course not, they are not afflicted by the psychopathology of Latino Leadership.

Conclusion

The end result is that the Latino community’s leadership, ability to influence policy and decision making is diminished while other communities are strengthen; consequently, those communities will be the ones that make decisions on our behalf and will be the masters of our destiny.

However, I think our community deserves better.  I believe we should be at the table and taken into account when decisions are being made. 

Therefore, I call on those that continue to be an obstacle for our community to respect our Latino elected leaders. Instead of helping destroy them, let’s work to build them up so as their leadership is strengthen, so will the Latino community as a whole.