A South Jersey congressional candidate wants to know: Why am I being called a bigot?

In an op-ed published by the Star-Ledger and NJ.com, Seth Grossman fires back at the mounting criticism that has defined his campaign, saying that he is not bigoted and that he is taking heat for being brave enough to comment on controversial issues.

A bit of background: Grossman hasn't just been called a bigot by his Democratic opponent and Democratic critics. Grossman was disowned by his party's own National Republican Campaign Committee.

Committee chairman Steve Stivers said "bigotry has no place in society — let alone the U.S. House of Representatives." He urged Grossman to drop out, but Grossman has dug in his heels.

Grossman is facing state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, a conservative Democrat from Cape May County, for the seat being vacated by the retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo. The 2nd Congressional District seat had been considered safe for Republicans, but after years of musings by Grossman on his blog and Facebook made headlines, pollsters moved the district over to the leaning-Democratic column.

Grossman has said that "Islam is a cancer" and that Muslims want to "take over our country."

He said that diversity "is a bunch of crap" and that a diversity initiative by the state Attorney General's Office would "put the public in grave danger" and turn New Jersey into Afghanistan.

He blamed President Obama for the debunked birther conspiracy theory.

He made sweeping generalizations about young black men, saying "young black men like this usually murder other young black men." He also complained about Black History Month taking up an entire month.

He was upset that the TV show "How to Get Away With Murder" had cast minorities as protagonists and white actors as the villains.

He said gay men with HIV should have been quarantined in the 1980s.

In his op-ed, Grossman goes through his biography, saying he grew up in an Atlantic City where people of various races and ethnicities lived together. He went to a mostly black high school and served in Atlantic City's Army National Guard, where many of his officers and fellow reservists also were black.

Grossman says he is being labeled as a bigot in part because he is considered "another white man."

"In today's politically correct America, every 'white man' is presumed to be a bigot. We can prove innocence only by embracing "progressive" causes — something I refuse to do," he says.

"I believe in the American tradition of having open and honest conversations about the important issues that affect us most," he says. "Over the years, I admit saying things that turned out to be wrong. However, if I did not speak out, I never would have learned the truth by being corrected."

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