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The Point: Smithtown is 'Town Trump' in Germany 

Smithtown's culture wars have made the news in

Smithtown's culture wars have made the news in Germany.  Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin/Debbie Egan-Chin

As the politics in Smithtown started to become extremely heated over the past two years, the battles attracted attention, first locally, then nationally.

And now, internationally.

Earlier this month, the German newspaper TAZ (short for Die Tageszeitung) published a 2,500-word piece on Smithtown School District board meetings and the politics of the town and moment. The newspaper itself has been unabashedly left-leaning since its founding in 1978. The reporter, a well-known German correspondent living in New York named Dorothea Hahn, gave both sides space to speak. But the piece clearly sided against the attendees who have started showing up to oppose mask mandates and the (theoretical) teaching of "Critical Race Theory," three of whom won seats on that board last May.

The piece is circulating on Facebook thanks to Maddox Elbert, a 13-year-old student and activist in the district. Elbert posted a link on his page, along with an English version he created with Google Translate.

Elbert told The Point he was not at the meeting Hahn attended, though he knows others she interviewed who were, and said she took some of his comments (such as belonging to his school’s LGBTQ group) and the ugly crowd response from recordings of meetings.

The (loosely?) translated headline of the piece is "Culture War in the Auditorium:"

And in English, the first paragraph reads:

"Diversity? Just don't! In Smithtown, New York, white parents want to protect their children from all the supposedly newfangled ways of bringing up children."

But the piece is also an exploration of the larger politics of both the town and the issues, and the hard-right attendees and members of groups like "Long Island Loud Majority" and "Save Our Schools" are treated respectfully, their quotes printed without editorial comment.

The piece calls Smithtown "Trump Town," and its commissioning highlights how fascinated the rest of the world is with the political games playing out in the United States.

And its final paragraph centers on the Newsday investigation two years ago which showed that as many as half of undercover testers sent out by the newspaper to pose as prospective homebuyers were racially steered toward or away from certain areas and properties.

The story, in German, can be found here.