Editorial— Phony holiday party ‘scandal’ rings hollow

And the award for the most overblown and ridiculous non-news story of the year goes to… you guessed it: the Boston holiday party story that quickly spread ‘round the world. The white grievance machine went into hyper-drive last week over a two-hour reception at the Parkman House that featured Mayor Wu hosting a collection of “electeds of color,” including state lawmakers and city councillors from Boston.

The outrage was prompted when a staff member in Wu’s office sent invites to all city councillors, when in fact the event itself was not intended just for councillors, but also for state lawmakers and other officeholders who identify as people of color.

The Mayor’s office then made its second mistake of the day: Instead of letting it roll, they in effect disinvited councillors who aren’t part of the elected of color group, which meets informally on a regular basis, just like many other special-interest “caucuses” do.

It’s a breach of etiquette and common courtesy to invite someone to any event and then disinvite them. Anyone who’s ever organized an invite list for a wedding, bridal shower, or a backyard BBQ knows better. If you invite Aunt Jeannie, you don’t un-invite Aunt Jeannie, unless you want a blood feud with Aunt Jeannie and her whole side of the family. The entire city council was planning to meet up for its own holiday gathering that night, anyway. So, what if a few councillors who aren’t part of this specific group’s regular lineup popped by the Parkman House for a Diet Coke and a plate of Chinese take-out? Order a few extra servings. Who cares?

Instead, the manufactured “scandal” fed the pathetic beast that is the right-wing propaganda machine that pounces on any perceived slight toward its ranks. Once the faux pas went public, it became a race to the bottom with every Trump-aligned muckraker in the nation seeking to one-up the last one with feigned outrage and calls for resignations and criminal probes.

It’s absurd – and the white “leaders” who fanned those flames should be ashamed of their role in stoking the division and making Boston, once again, a laughingstock.

It’s all the more sinister because they know well that all elected officials belong to some sub-group that meets and confers apart from their larger legislative body. Members of the South Boston delegation routinely meet over coffee or breakfast to talk about issues specific to their districts. Within the Legislature, there’s a Boston delegation that meets regularly and even elects a chairperson annually to lead their discussions and special events. Mayors Menino, Walsh and Wu have all routinely hosted the Boston delegation in city spaces, including the Parkman House, to share a meal and to hear the priorities of city government. Is it considered an affront that suburban members of the Legislature aren’t invited to those meetings and receptions? Of course not.

It’s worth noting that this manufactured “scandal” has unfolded while Boston’s sordid record of race-based offenses was on a national stage through the HBO-Globe retrospective of the infamous Charles Stuart case.

On Wednesday, Mayor Wu did what no other city leader before her deemed necessary: She apologized on behalf of her predecessors for the harassment of Black men — including Willie Bennett and his family. Don’t expect any such remorse from this mayor’s detractors. They’re far too busy whining away about their own petty, contrived grievances, which may titilate their “base” outside the city, but ring pathetically hollow to local eyes and ears.

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