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A top New York City Fire Department official has argued that it’s perfectly OK for the department to discriminate against a white firefighter who’d wanted to take part in an apparently all-black memorial Mass for deceased firefighters in 2017.
And as justification for her decision, this week FDNY chief diversity and inclusion officer Cecilia Loving basically asserted that black public employees have the right to practice a microcosmic form of ethnonationalism.
Two months ago, FDNY Lt. Daniel McWilliams, who was made famous for having hoisted the American flag back up at Ground Zero immediately following the Sept. 11 terror attacks (see photo below), filed a suit alleging that the department had discriminated against him by prohibiting him from serving as a flag bearer at the Mass.
🇺🇸On the evening of September 11, 2001, Thomas E. Franklin took a photograph of three firefighters, George Johnson, Dan McWilliams & Billy Eisengrein, raising the American flag at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan pic.twitter.com/E2U7gpB10R
— RetroNewsNow (@RetroNewsNow) September 11, 2018
Within the fire department, there’s a fraternal organization, the Vulcan Society, for black firefighters. On Nov. 19, 2017, the society held a memorial Mass for deceased members of the group. McWilliams had hoped to be a flag bearer at the ceremony, but his request was denied because of his race, or so he claimed in the suit.
As evidence, he cited a conversation that occurred between him and then-Vulcan Society president Regina Wilson just prior to the memorial mass.
“Lieutenant, I specifically requested an all-black color guard,” Wilson allegedly said to him.
“Are you removing me from the color guard because I am not black?” he reportedly replied.
“Yes I am,” she then confirmed.
The lawsuit claimed that the “racially-charged exchanges” were overheard by McWilliams’ friends and colleagues, and that he wound up fleeing the scene “to save himself from further shame, humiliation and embarrassment.”
Testifying before the New York State Division of Human Rights last week, Loving defended Wilson’s discriminatory actions by claiming “it isn’t” discriminatory and that it’s “most definitely” acceptable to request an all-black color guard, according to the New York Post.
“Loving said it’s okay to replace a white member with an African-American to ‘uplift our identities and our separate ethnicities in order to instill a sense of pride and community and support for one another,'” the Post reported.
According to Oxford, ethnonationalism is defined as the “advocacy of or support for the political interests of a particular ethnic group, especially its national independence or self-determination.”
Is that not what Loving appeared to be promoting, albeit for a so-called “community” of public employees versus an entire nation?
In a written brief, McWilliams’ attorney, Keith Sullivan, reportedly blasted the “deplorable” discrimination and the sick logic used to justify it.
“If you’re black and you discriminate against a white person in the workplace, you get a slap on the wrist at best. A white person who discriminates gets “heavy-handed discipline and punishment,” he said.
“The FDNY has created a policy and procedure for bending over backwards, coming up with excuses and accommodating members of the Vulcan Society … who commit racist acts, and it has to stop.”
He reportedly added that Wilson had received “one hour of counseling” as discipline for her alleged mistreatment of McWilliams. But if she’d been punished for mistreating him, then why was Loving defending her behavior?
According to Sullivan, besides suffering from humiliation, his client has also been the target of retaliation and intimidation from Wilson’s supporters.
One supporter allegedly put his hands on McWilliams and said, “I’ve heard about you. They told me you’d act this way, and now you know me.”
Despite McWilliams’ status as a 911 hero, his case has been completely ignored by the mainstream media and by NYC Council members. The same was not the case for Andre Laurant, a black man who complained two years ago after the FDNY refused to hire him because he’d failed to disclose two arrests from his past.
“Let’s just call it what it is — systemic racism. We are standing here defending his right to save us. This makes no sense to me. We are defending his right to go into burning buildings,” councilwoman Adrienne Adams reportedly complained at the time.
Other council members — and even NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio — followed suit with their own statements:
Today I joined @AndyKingNYC and colleagues on the steps of City Hall to call on this administration to offer FDNY-hopeful Andre Laurant a chance to join the Department. A minor mistake over 20 years ago should not have a lasting impact on someone’s career ambitions. pic.twitter.com/WQU40JDIXc
— Councilman Deutsch (@ChaimDeutsch) May 8, 2018
Two years later, none of them have a peep to say about McWilliams, a man made famous when he and two other firefighters found an American flag immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks and chose to raise it up on a flagpole at Ground Zero.
The three “had spent six hours searching when they were ordered to evacuate when 7 World Trade Center was on the verge of collapse,” according to the Post. “That’s when the trio planted an American flag atop a mountain of debris and twisted rubble – much like the servicemen at Iwo Jima did in World War II.”
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