TRUMP-SWASTKA SIGN DRAWS PROTESTERS
Bookstore owner defends window display, citing what he calls historical parallels
About 25 people gathered outside the Inquiring Minds bookstore in the village on Wednesday to protest an anti-Donald Trump sign in the store’s window that has the candidate’s name and the words “Make America hate again” superimposed over a swastika.
Store owner Brian Donoghue said he expected the display to ignite controversy, though it took about two weeks from the time he put up the 4-by-4-foot sign for protesters to voice objections.
Wednesday’s protest was organized by Angie Minew, a former member of the Saugerties school board and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for an Ulster County Legislature seat last year.
A heated discussion outside the store between Minew and Donoghue focused on whether there was a commercial intent to the display, which also features books critical of Trump surrounded by books about the rise of Hitler and the German Third Reich.
“I have a problem with the fact that you used a swastika, I have a problem that [it] represents hate and genocide ... and I also have a problem that you’re making money off the books that you so obviously hate,” Minew told the store owner.
Donoghue, whose store is at Main and Partition streets in the village, countered that the books were not displayed for promotion — though he said he would sell them if asked — but rather were intended to reflect what he sees as historical parallels.
“The reason I did this was, in watching some of the Trump rallies, I really felt I was in prewar (World War II) Nazi Germany,” he said. “... I saw neo-Nazis there, I saw absolute hate, hate in their hearts, and it scared me for my family. It scared me for my children’s future . ...
“I thought this is Nazi Germany happening again and I felt compelled to alert my community and alert the people around me that we need to pay attention to this.” Donoghue added. “This man (Trump) is dangerous.”
On Tuesday, Donoghue
was issued a notice by village Code Enforcement Officer Eyal Saad that said the sign violates the village’s rules regarding the size of window signs and that the store has until Nov. 1 to come into compliance with the law. The notice makes no mention of Trump or the swastika.
Saad did not return a reporter’s call Wednesday, but village Mayor Bill Murphy said there is some question about whether further enforcement action should be taken given that Election Day is less than three weeks away.
“I spoke with the Historic Review Board this morning, and their take is as distasteful and everything as it is, it is a political sign and he could be within his rights [for] political signage,” the mayor said.
The Trump-swastika sign was created by artist David Radovanovic of Saugerties.
Donoghue responded to concerns voiced Wednesday that the display could hurt children by saying school districts need to history in such a way that Nazi Germany won’t be forgotten.
“The fact that this is a symbol, and children can see it, I would hope that children would study this in school so they know a Nazi when they see one,” he
said. “People fought a world war to defeat this. By glossing it over and pretending it doesn’t exist, we’re allowing it to happen again.”
Minew was among several people at the protest who defended actions and statements by Republican presidential candidate Trump, including the recently released 2005 recording of him saying he could kiss women and grab their genital area without consent because of his fame.
“It’s what guys say, you know it as well as I do,” Minew said. “This is how they talk and this is how they talked to me when I was in school.”
Mixed among Trump supporters at the protest where several people carrying signs supporting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and the sides occasionally got into heated arguments in which the Trump backers brought up Clinton’s email problems the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
Police officers stood across the street from the protest but did not intervene.
Also on hand was Saugerties Village Board member Donald Hackett, who said he attended because he objects to a local store displaying a symbol that is
so widely loathed. He said the swastika in the window could be a detriment to local tourism.
“I’m protesting because of hate, because there’s a swastika sitting in this window, and I have a lot of Jewish friends, and they called me this weekend with concerns with what’s going on in this village,” Hackett said.
Donoghue said he discussed the window display with his wife, who is Jewish, before setting it up.
“I think it was speak up now or never,” he said. “I have, along with the Trump sign, a sign in the window [that] says, ‘First they came for the socialists, I did not speak out because I was not a socialist ... Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.’”
Among those at the store on Wednesday who found the window display appropriate was Ingrid Way, who was 3 years old and living in Germany when World War II ended in 1945. Way, who is not Jewish, said she does not have memories of the Nazi reign but grew up learning that Hitler was a monster.
Protesters Chastity Martinez, left, Ed Quirk, center, and Santos Lopez of Saugerties stand with other protesters outside the Inquiring Minds bookstore on Wednesday.
Brian Donoghue, left, owner of Inquiring Minds bookstore in Saugerties, defends the Trump-swastika sign to protest organizer Angie Minew.