On a personal level, I think he’s a good guy. Even in the depths of his issues, he was willing to go out of his way to help other students–including non-white ones. But certainly deeply misguided, and the evidence available to anyone who looks says he still has some disturbing views.
Charley has roundly (and fairly, based on the limited information he had) criticized Seamus Romney for his post attacking John Sanzone and co. Charley argues that while his “past” is appalling, Mr. Sanzone has perhaps changed his ways. He says he’s now a “progressive”. But it’s not true, by any definition of “progressive” that any of us would recognize.
I will concede that he has probably changed his views on homosexuality now that he has come out. And he has apparently replaced the virulent racism of Stormfront with the casual racism of the average Tea Party Congressman (even down to the “but some of my best friends are Jewish” defense in the Chronicle article). But this is Massachusetts, and we have higher standards than that.
If you’ve been following the story, you already know about his 120+ posts on white supremacist site Stormfront, in 2004-2005. The Chronicle article has now been updated with information about his being asked to leave college in 2007 over a KKK-apologist rally he organized, and his posting on Stormfront as recently as 2009. By the way, I strongly opposed, and still do, the decision to ask him to take personal leave. I’ll take back my youthful desire for the Dean of Students to be fired over it, but I believe in free speech on college campuses even when it offends some people. Or even makes them cry, as the email Sanzone tried to send to the student body did to some of the professors who saw it.
John Sanzone claims he doesn’t remember his 2009 post on Stormfront. But it wasn’t his only racist activity at that time. The same year, he posted a Holocaust-denying comment on the blog Tigerhawk and claimed the American government was Stalinist. Perhaps he doesn’t remember because there were so many.
In 2010, he was less focused on the racism and more into denying global warming. But he did find time to accuse the Southern Poverty Law Center of exaggerating the KKK’s influence because any random people could get together and claim to be the KKK? I’m not even sure what he was going for there…
In 2014, he posted on his blog Sanzone and Park in apparent support of a lawsuit claiming that affirmative action is racist against Asian Americans–the canard conservatives everywhere are now using to attack it.
I’ll give him credit. He has come a long way. I think he has a valuable contribution to make to the community. He’s a smart guy and I think he’s genuinely trying to do the right thing. But politics isn’t the place for him to make that contribution. I don’t blame him for trying.
I do blame whoever recruited him into the race, without having an honest discussion with him about his strengths and weaknesses. Whoever did that is like the “admissions” people at for-profit colleges, taking students who are way out of their depth for all they’re worth, sucking up their money for degrees that are useless if they even complete them, with hopelessly rosy promises of academic and professional success.
So I have to ask: Who talked him into this? Who had an incentive to get John Sanzone into the race?