15 thoughts on “The Extremist Next Door

  1. Any racism on the bases of ethnicity or skin color can only be overcome by shining light on it. To discuss it openly is healthy. Our community has come a long way, but there is always room for improvement. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

  2. It comes as no surprise that awful people like Jesse Dunstan and the like are in our midst; there are racists everywhere. His despicable ideology is born of ignorance and perpetuated through hate.

    I am compelled to wonder what was in this man’s past that put him in his current state of being; he grew up in Garrison, which I would like to think was progressive during his formative years.

    Although it is thought-provoking, his individual story is not worth dwelling on. Since the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S., hatred and stupidity have come out of the shadows and into the mainstream once again. It’s worse than most people thought and individuals like Dunstan are living proof. It will take a concerted effort to put them back in their rightful place, the sewers of history.

    My thanks to The Current for having the courage to shine a light on the dark side of things here in the Hudson Valley.

    Shea is supervisor of Philipstown.

  3. Bravo to The Current for publishing this valuable article. My heart goes out to those individuals who have to live with the pain and shame of being related to a hate-monger, but I hope they find the courage to publicly denounce the ideology of hate.

  4. I very much appreciate knowing that literal Nazis live and spread filth minutes from my front door. This is excellent reporting.

  5. This was excellent reporting, as well as a heads-up to our community.

    I thought it was important that other locals know about the article so I shared it on Philipstown Locals. It was taken down. Now, that is a moment of truth. When a newspaper article is taken down because two people complain about it being a “political” posting [which is not allowed on the group], you have to ask yourself, what is political about the article?

  6. Thanks for your superb journalism in covering “the extremist next door.” When I started reading the article, I had no idea that the extremist was literally next door — ouch!

    Your coverage is a wake-up call for all of us in the Hudson Valley that hate is pervasive (i.e., not just in someone else’s neighborhood) and must be addressed with love and education — and with resistance.

    I hope that your journalism will spark a community conversation about constructive ways of addressing this matter among religious, civic and other leaders in Beacon and Cold Spring. Maybe The Current could host a meeting inviting our leaders and Highlands residents to explore options.

    My only concern is that such a conversation may inadvertently create a platform for white nationalists. But shining a light on darkness is the best road to take.

  7. Thank you for the excellent — and frightening — article on local white supremacists. Exposing these people and these organizations is the first step in exposing their lies and the cynical dishonesty their cause is based on.

  8. “The Extremist Next Door” shows the complexity of our community. It is not as clear-cut as we had imagined, or as positive as we had hoped.

    The church calls us to the positive aspects of our nature and to build up our community. We invite those souls who are lost in the sin of white supremacy, or other sins, to turn and follow where Jesus led the way.

    Our communities are complicated. Our families are complicated — in history and today.

    You note a relative of the Osborn family of Garrison whom you describe as a white supremacist. There was another Osborn relative who was an attorney in New York City before the Civil War. He defended escaped slaves from their former masters, who would re-enslave them. When he lost a case, in that miscarriage of justice which characterized our country at that time, he helped them escape to Canada. He also helped black colleges.

    During the Civil War, when President Lincoln dedicated the battlefield at Gettysburg, he said: “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers dedicated on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal.”

    We are a new nation, not like the old nations of Europe that were divided by race and class, and where many served the few. We were driven or dragged here. Now we attempt to build a new nation, where all might be equal, regardless of race and class.

    St. Philip’s began as a church of the privileged few in Garrison. But that changed after the Civil War, and perhaps because of it. Many Civil War veterans lie in our churchyard. The priest was a returning Union Army chaplain. He led his people in service to the surrounding communities, of many races and classes.

    Happily, we still follow his lead, and invite others to help — of whatever race or class or faith or political views. In fact, the most compassionate person in Jesus’ parables was an immigrant — the good Samaritan.

    In this complicated world, let us build up our community together, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

    Holton is the interim rector of St. Philip’s.

  9. Congratulations for your article, “The Extremist Next Door.”

    Unfortunately, as we continue to evolve as a nation, deep divides threaten the fabric of our society. We are seeing white supremacy erupt in riots and slaughter. Many of your readers are members of minorities and need to be protective of their security.

    Shortly after the article was published, a link to it was shared on the Philipstown Locals group on Facebook. Someone in that organization immediately decided that it should be removed. I am trying to understand what they might have been thinking: That the community should not be kept informed of local white supremacy activity? That there is nothing to worry about? That hate-mongering is acceptable?

    Thank you for keeping us aware of what is going on around us, giving us the opportunity to stand up for our beliefs and fight bigotry.

  10. Your report is a must-read for local residents. The tactic of normalizing the ideas espoused by these groups is a danger to the entire country and something that must be combated at every turn, which is difficult and important work.

  11. “The Extremist Next Door” shines a bright light on hate. But what can we do about it, as individuals, communities and organizations?

    It matters whether hate is confined to the margins or becomes mainstream. The more mainstream, the more normalized and more dangerous it is. The threat is from both types of hate — the visceral kind that sometimes gins up people with guns or bombs, or the normative type that accepts hate as “just the way things are,” like when Jews were kept in ghettos or people were enslaved because of the color of their skin.

    Hate is like a bully — if you don’t stand up, the bully becomes emboldened. Whenever we hear hate against anyone, we should do our best to interrupt or expose it. While that’s a hard thing to do, and sometimes scary, it is important if we want to cultivate a culture in which hate is less likely to become accepted. If you’re not concerned when hatred is directed against another group, do this thought experiment: substitute your own group, and see if you feel the same, or if the same societal rules apply.

    We also have to be creative. Some communities, when faced with a proposed white supremacist march, have started “Project Lemonade” programs, raising pledges tied to a metric (such as how long the march lasts) with money to be given to things the haters would detest, like hate-crime training for police or anti-bias education. The hateful speech is no longer “free,” and sometimes the hate group may back off.

    Hate has been, and will always be, part of the human story. But we tend to focus on hate in a silo. What motivates an individual to hate? How does hatred work in groups? How does it play out in politics? To combat it better, we have to understand that hate operates on all these levels simultaneously. We need new interdisciplinary models to help all of us become more effective and strategic in opposing hate, relying on testable theories, rather than being guided by our outrage. Helping produce that knowledge is the goal of the faculty and students collaborating at Bard College’s Center for the Study of Hate, where I am director.

  12. How much of a loser do you have to be to think the best thing about yourself, the character trait you are proudest of, is the color of your skin and where your ancestors are from? Pathetic.

  13. Way back in the second century, the sage Rabba taught that no person can say that their blood is more precious than the blood of another.

    It’s a remarkable statement, really — we Jews have always been a particular people, with distinct customs and traditions which at times we have thought represented the very will of God. That heritage which we value teaches that at the most fundamental level of life itself, we all bleed the same red blood.

    Unfortunately, not all our neighbors agree.

    With some truly extraordinary reporting, The Current laid out that the Hudson Valley has the unfortunate distinction of being an important center of white nationalism.

    This is not far away and this is not theoretical. Here, in the area where we make our lives and build our community, are people who produce a podcast which, in its own words, says the only realistic option for solving the “problem” of Jews, blacks and other non-Aryan groups is “unironic extermination.”

    So what do we do?

    We should continue to take steps to defend and protect ourselves, both at home and at synagogues.

    We should continue to be in coalition with people of good conscience, with African-Americans, immigrants, LGBT folk and others who are targeted by white supremacy.

    We should continue to hold our elected officials accountable for how they protect us from domestic terror.
    And most of all, we should live our values as proudly and loudly as we can. One of our core values is that we all — in our different hues and faiths — are all images of the One God and we all bleed red just the same — no one life is more valuable than another.

    So with that in mind, I want to invite all of us — Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and all people of good conscience, who find the ideology of blood-purity repugnant, to live our values at the Units of Love blood drive on Sunday, June 2, as a form of protest. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lewis Tompkins firehouse at 13 South Ave., in Beacon.

    The blood collected that day will not go just to Jews or just to African-Americans or just to Muslims. It will go from human beings who open their hearts to other human beings in pain, suffering from accidents or from cancer.

    I recognize that the U.S. blood system has a complicated racial and ethnic history, and that even to this day its treatment of LGBT donors is deeply problematic. Nonetheless, I cannot imagine a better rejoinder to our white supremacist neighbors, who think their blood purer than ours, than to fill the blood system with the donated blood of Jews and blacks and Mexicans and Muslims.

    May our blood supply be so diverse that the white supremacists refuse medical treatment, lest they be tainted with our blood. And may we soon see a day when the distinction between O+ and B- is the only blood purity anyone tries to maintain.

    Spodek is the rabbi at the Beacon Hebrew Alliance.

  14. I want to thank The Current for chronicling the extreme rhetoric of Philipstown-raised Jesse Dunstan and his podcast. You lifted a veil on hate’s dark, lurking presence in the Hudson Valley.

    The article prompts a painful introspection — has our community inadvertently fostered these beliefs? Research indicates that growing up in diverse communities increases one’s propensity for tolerance. Thus, we must contend with the long-term impacts of our area’s lack of diversity (Philipstown is 90 percent white). And the Highland’s history of breeding and sponsoring KKK members cannot be ignored.

    I have an acute memory of being kicked out of a Cold Spring antique shop when I was 15 when I had a friend with me who is of Afro-Caribbean descent. The shopkeeper claimed that he feared that we would “steal” something. As a child growing up in the region, I was frequently taunted over my curly hair, and I was once referred to as “Jew-nose” by a classmate. I recall girls in my class who would spend hours trying to domesticate their unruly curls, armed with straighteners and chemicals, so they could “fit in.” The homogeneity of the school populations, compounded by such a small, tight-knit populace, ends up accentuating any differences one might project.

    Did this culture impact Dunstan? Would his future be changed if he had grown up elsewhere? This is an uncomfortable question that is essential for our community to consider.

    Perhaps the panacea for pervasive bullying is the same as the one to combat hate? That is, increased racial and socioeconomic diversity, acceptance/tolerance, and improved education. It is time for our community to discuss policies and campaigns that will sponsor a more mixed — and, therefore, open minded — locality.