Slockbower: Open Response to Freeholder Dawn Fantasia Re: Open Letter to the Sussex County Democrat Committee

As businesses suffer, residents languish with this illness, and our schools intermittently being shuttered, Sussex County desperately needs meaningful action. But this Freeholder Board is too busy casting stones.

These are difficult times and, to some, it may seem advantageous to deflect from their own inaction and failures by focusing on the religious views of others. Because of that simple fact, I am not surprised that Freeholder Dawn Fantasia has decided that the best use of her platform is to attack my views on religion, even going so far as to misrepresent them completely.

According to the Pew Research Center, Americans described as “nones” are the fastest-growing religious group in the country, while nonbelievers are one of the most distrusted and discriminated-against group. It’s easy to attack someone who believes something different from you; it’s much harder to put in the work to understand why.

Freeholder Fantasia has accused me of using anti-Semitic barbs on social media in a recent open letter published on InsiderNJ. This is either a massive misunderstanding of what these terms mean or a blatantly intellectually dishonest attack grounded in the desire to spread fear and hatred, which is par for the course for the Sussex County GOP. Anti-Semitism is not a religious disagreement; it is hostility and hatred against a particular ethnicity. In other words, it’s racism. My girlfriend is an Ashkenazi Jew, as are my two youngest children. Freeholder Fantasia’s charge of anti-Semitism is ridiculous on its face as it pertained to a humorous meme that is, in fact, an indictment against Biblically-justified genocide. This clearly shows her comments to be a naked political attack rooted in her ignorance of my actual positions.

She also asserts that I am anti-Christian. My parents are Christian. They raised me as a Christian. My father, in particular, is the most morally unshakable and incorruptible man I have ever known due, in part, to his faith. To suggest that I am even remotely anti “my parents” is insulting not only to me, but to them as well. Moreover, I refuse to be falsely accused of religious bigotry by a woman who defended former SCCC Vice Chair Jerry Scanlan’s blatantly anti-Islamic, proto-fascist tweets. This is the height of hypocrisy.

Freeholder Fantasia has also assumed intention by describing some of my posts about prayer as “mocking”. Again, it’s easy to misrepresent someone when you’re basing that representation on social media memes. Yes, I shared a meme showing a variety of modes of prayer with the text “It doesn’t matter how you pray. It still doesn’t work.” While I recognize the value of prayer for some people of faith to help them find balance, comfort and inner peace, I also understand that intercessory prayer alone has never solved any of society’s problems. Two hands at work have more power than a million hands closed in prayer. This sentiment has become a meme unto itself. Earthquake? Thoughts and prayers. Hurricane? Thoughts and prayers. School shooting? Thoughts and prayers. Covid-19? Thoughts and prayers. If I am wrong in my viewpoint, then why do people around the world continue to face hardships with utter indifference to their faiths? After reading her attacks on my character, I am left with a question: has prayer been what the Board of Chosen Freeholders has been relying on to combat Covid-19? Instead of taking a swift and decisive action by urgently promoting a public health campaign of social distancing and mask-wearing, has the Board simply just closed their hands in prayer and left the lives of Sussex County residents to the whims of chance? If so, then this is unconscionable.

I would also like to remind Freeholder Fantasia that according to the U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 3, no religious test shall be required to hold any office or public trust under the United States of America. Is her fear-mongering and dishonesty an attempt to apply a religious test to me? That should be antithetical for a party that claims some kind of Constitutional supremacy.

She has some nerve accusing anyone of being motivated by hatred and bigotry while parroting the old “family values” chestnut in regards to the additions made to the state’s sex education guidelines. “Family values;” we’ve been hearing that for decades. That’s the longstanding anti-LGBTQIA+ dog whistle I mentioned in my post about the Freeholders’ toothless resolution to reject said state’s education guidelines. I was present on the Freeholder Meeting call, and spoke addressing the resolution. They claimed that the materials are not age-appropriate but repeatedly refused to identify which materials they object to or to even state what exactly they were referring to. The Freeholders were questioned three times at that meeting, and each time they declined to answer in any meaningful way. They resorted to pearl-clutching with embarrassment over the subject and asserted that it is an issue of “family values.”I came out of the closet two decades ago, and “family values” has been the battlecry for those who wish to see me and those like me kept in the shadows. “Family values” was the argument against LGBTQIA+ people having their own families. “Family values” is the reasoning for denying transgender people the right to use a public restroom with dignity. Are we to believe that a Board of political hacks who are too immature to discuss sex education topics with other adults are competent enough to know more about what is and isn’t appropriate for children than professionals and experts in the field? Are we to believe that this is not an attack on LGBTQIA+ people or about social issues when “social issues” is explicitly mentioned in the resolution?

This resolution is nothing more than a last gasp of primitive thinking in the guise of virtue being used as a tool to deflect attention away from the inaction by this Freeholder Board in regards to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. I find it unimaginably irresponsible for any of the Freeholders to attack me for tongue-in-cheek Facebook memes while the county is seeing two separate Covid-19 outbreaks, one of which a Freeholder is rumored to have had some involvement. As businesses suffer, residents languish with this illness, and our schools intermittently being shuttered, Sussex County desperately needs meaningful action. But this Freeholder Board is too busy casting stones.

Rob Slockbower
Democratic Candidate for Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders


Source: Insider NJ,