#JoelGottaGo: Calls for Seminole County tax collector to resign after 'Islamophobic' post

Joel Greenberg says post was 'for a friend'

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, right, and the Aug. 18, 2018 Facebook post that set off calls for him to step down.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Critics have called on Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg to step down after he posed a question to Facebook asking what value Muslims have contributed to society.

"Very simple question ... Name just ONE society in the developed world that has benefited in ANY WAY from the introduction of more Muslims," read the post that went up Saturday morning. "Just one. Asking for a friend."

Greenberg told the Orlando Weekly that friend he was asking for was conservative commentator Neil Boortz. Greenberg later added a link to Boortz's tweet with the same question that included an article about female genital mutilation.

The social media reaction was immediate. Rasha Mubarak, president of the Young Democrats of Orange County and a civil rights advocate for the Muslim community in Orlando, called the post "derogatory and Islamophobic."

"This feeds into the anti-Muslim rhetoric that not only is dangerous for the Muslim community, misperceived Muslim community, people of color, moreover for our entire Central Florida community," Mubarak said, adding they're not just words when they come from elected officials.

Mubarak, using the hashtag "JoelGottaGo" on Twitter, called for Greenberg to resign and make a public apology. Mubarak told News 6 she extended an invitation to Greenberg to participate in a forum with the Muslim community to get all his questions answered, but he hasn't accepted that offer.

"His irresponsible comment gives a green light for people to act upon this hate and ignorance," Mubarak said. "We need elected officials who are intersectional and are on the right side of history, not ones (who) create division and erosion."

Greenberg told the Orlando Sentinel he has no reason to apologize because it wasn't his original question; it was for Boortz.

The Seminole County Democratic Party has called for Greenberg's resignation. In response, Greenberg tweeted, "Nobody cares what the SemDems have to say. Let them beat me in an actual election. They can’t. " He ended the post with a peace sign emoji.

On Sunday, the Florida Democratic Party called on Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis to return Greenberg's $3,300 donation and to denounce the "bigoted and divisive rhetoric.

The Seminole County Democratic Party and the Orange County Democratic Party released a statement on Sunday calling for Greenberg to resign immediately as a result of his recent comments. 

"As Democrats, we believe that diversity is what makes America great. We condemn the recent statements made by Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg towards those of the Islamic faith," said the statement from the Seminole County Democratic Party and the Orange County Democratic Party.

The statement continued with, "In case Mr. Greenberg wasn't aware, here are just a few things that our society would not have without the contributions of our Muslim neighbors: Optics, surgical tools, algebra and coffee."

News 6 emailed DeSantis' campaign spokesperson to ask whether the Congressman intends to return the donations or condemn Greenberg's post.

The Seminole County GOP said in a message to News 6 that although "the Republican Party supports its Republican elected officials ... they are not responsible for their actions, nor do their opinions necessarily represent the Republican Party."

As of Sunday, Greenberg was posting to Facebook again.

"Ah the religion of peace and the party of tolerance. Until they disagree with you. Hypocrites. All of them. Vote republican," his social media post read, adding the abbreviation for President Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again." 

This isn't the first time the former radio host turned Seminole County tax collector has been in the news in his less than two years in office. In January, Lake Mary police body camera video showed Greenberg asking officers to extend him a professional courtesy and not issue him a citation during a traffic stop.

"I'm just trying to stay off the front page of the damn newspaper, alright? 'Tax collector gets a ticket.' That's the type of political crap I have to deal with," Greenberg told the officer.

On Sunday, a story about Greenberg's Facebook post ran on the front page of the Orlando Sentinel, below the fold.

News 6 called and emailed the Seminole County Tax Collector's Office and Greenberg requesting comment for this story, but did not hear back.

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