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The Queens Village Republican Club honored our nation’s 16th president, an outspoken blogger and a fallen soldier at its Lincoln Dinner Sunday.
The annual affair, held at Antun’s, at 96-43 Springfield Blvd. in Queens Village, serves as a platform to call attention to the achievements of party members in Queens and discuss broader goals of the GOP.
“Lincoln was a unifier. He believed in one nation,” said Gerald Matacotta, the replacement keynote speaker for the evening after Rabbi Aryeh Spero was delayed by weather.
Matacotta discussed the better qualities of Lincoln, such as his willingness to listen to differing opinions and his love of the arts, and urged those in attendance to follow the historic lawmaker’s lead.
“We are the party of progress,” Matacotta said. “We are not the party of the past, but of the present and future.”
Matacotta, a history instructor at Queensborough Community College, talked extensively on the topic of education. He espoused the concept of classical education, with a focus on deduction, Western history and th arts.
He also warned the audience that he believed the current education system had been hijacked by a group of elitists, and compared this takeover to tactics used by three 20th century strongmen: Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
Diners received more cautionary advice from Pamela Geller, the author of “Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance” and editor of atlasshrugs.com. Geller, along with dinner emcee City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) were vocal opponents of the mosque proposed two blocks from the site of the fallen World Trade Center.
Geller, who was described as controversial by two people who spoke before her, warned diners of the dangers of the global jihad, which she characterized as the assault on the Western world as outlined in Islam and the pitfalls of political correctness.
“Truth is the new hate speech,” she said.
Geller also detailed the legal troubles she faced when trying to place ads on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s stations and trains that read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”
GOP mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis later spoke at the event, telling Geller that if he were in Gracie Mansion, she would not have faced any legal troubles.
Midway through the evening, the family of late Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr. took the stage to receive an honor from the club.
Buckley, a U.S. Marine, was stationed in Helmand Province last summer when he was killed by an Afghanistan police recruit he was helping to train. Buckley had just turned 21 and, according to his father, was days away from coming home.
“My son was proud to be a Marine,” his father said in an emotional speech. “He did it because of 9/11. I was down there for two days and when he grew up, he said he wanted to do the right thing.”
The club gave out two honors for GOP community leaders. Long Islander Raj Mehta received the Businessman of the Year Award. Mehta is chief executive officer of Infosys International, an information technology company that has been featured in Forbes and has received numerous awards for its rapid growth.
Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir, principal of Maspeth High School, received the Educator of the Year Award.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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