Brooklyn Synagogue Vandal Has the Usual White Nationalist Credentials

screengrab from

screengrab from

And by “the usual”, I mean none.

Thursday evening a comedian of whom I was totally unaware existed, Ilana Glazer, was slated to headline a get-out-the-vote event at a Brooklyn synagogue. The event was interrupted by someone entering the synagogue and vandalizing it.


The event, at the Union Temple of Brooklyn on Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights, was to include a question-and-answer session.

Ms. Glazer, a co-star of “Broad City,” was scheduled to interview a journalist, Amy Goodman, and two candidates for the New York State Senate, Jim Gaughran and Andrew Gounardes.

But shortly after 8 p.m., Ms. Glazer announced the event was canceled because the graffiti, written with a black marker, had been discovered in various locations inside the temple, which was built in 1929.

The messages left behind included “Kill all Jews,” “We are here,” “Hitler,” “Jew better be ready” and “Die Jew rats.”

And the usual suspects were pointed out:

This is how Jezebel covered it:

The graffiti is another indicator that anti-semitism is on the rise, as Republicans openly embrace white nationalism and spew messages of hate and intolerance. On Sunday, a white man killed 11 Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, becoming one of the deadliest attacks against the Jewish community in the United States. Just this week, swastikas appeared on multiple buildings in New York City, including one Brooklyn home that was vandalized with a swastika and the N-word.


The plot thickened Friday when police released a photo of the suspect:

Sorry, I have a little trouble imagining this guy carrying a tiki-torch.

And it really got interesting last night when the police announced an arrest:

Mr. Polite is not unknown in New York. From a December 2017 New York Times article After Years in Foster Care, Intern ‘Adopted’ by City Hall Catches a Break.

In high school alone, Mr. Polite estimates, he was placed in 10 different homes. And he received little encouragement from social workers to go to college.

But Mr. Polite, now 25, still believed that college was the best next step. He found encouragement as a volunteer in his teens, registering voters and canvassing neighborhoods in New York City during Barack Obama’s first presidential bid. Mentors on the campaign trail urged him to pursue higher education.

In 2008, at a gay pride rally for Mr. Obama, Mr. Polite met Christine C. Quinn, then the City Council speaker.

He interned with Ms. Quinn, a Manhattan Democrat, for several years, working on initiatives to combat hate crime, sexual assault and domestic violence. He also took part in her re-election campaign in 2009 and returned to help with her unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2013.

“James was the adopted child of the Quinn administration,” she said. “And it wasn’t just me. It was the entire City Council staff.”


And this from 2013:

Ostracized by his family for being gay, he said he was kicked out of his Brooklyn home at age 13 and placed in foster care. He said his mother told him he deserved to be disowned.

But his fortune changed a year later after a chance meeting with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who offered him an opportunity to intern in her office. The two say they quickly developed an emotional bond that’s deepened over the last six years. Quinn has since paid for some of Polite’s living expenses and helped him get into Brandeis University.

“Nothing has gone particularly well or easy in James’ life and he is the most grateful, positive young man I’ve ever met,” Quinn said in a recent phone interview. “Not every foster family was perfect, not every school was perfect but he just always seems to believe there’s something better around the corner and keeps working towards it.”

Polite revealed the story of his unlikely relationship with the mayoral candidate during an unrelated interview about homeless LGBT youth.

After being forced from his home, Polite said he bounced from one foster home to the next without having much opportunity to form meaningful relationships. He believes the stigma attached to being a gay black male left him vulnerable as he shuttled among foster parents — some of whom, he is convinced, were out simply for financial gain. Some foster parents gave him little food and sometimes locked him out, forcing him to spend nights in shelters, recalled Polite, now 20.

The one constant in his life was a love for politics, a passion that grew when he volunteered for the Obama campaign as a high school student in 2007.


There is just too much stuff packed in there to unpack.

But at least one more white nationalist will be heading for prison.

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