(FOX Nation) -- A politician who celebrated the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. gets the 'key' to Long Island's Nassau County.
Like many New York City bedroom communities, the Village of Freeport on Long Island lost its share of loved ones—including police and firefighters—on 9/11. Over 340 people from Nassau County were killed in the attacks.
In the aftermath of the horror, messages of sympathy poured in from democracies around the world. But there were a few exceptions. One occurred days after the crisis when El Salvador's far-left Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) political party turned a street rally in San Salvador into a celebration of the carnage. The leader of those festivities, which included burning the American flag, was a former Soviet-backed guerrilla commander by the name of Salvador Sánchez Cerén.
It is no surprise then that many Nassau County residents were furious when they learned, earlier this month, that their politicians were fêting Mr. Sánchez Cerén in their own backyard as part of the county's observation of Salvadoran-American Day. The controversy that ensued threw Mr. Sánchez Cerén's New York hosts into full-blown damage control as they struggled to convince their constituents that they had no idea who their guest of honor really is.
More interesting is what the backlash implies for the political career of Mr. Sánchez Cerén, who is now the country's vice president and the favorite to be the FMLN presidential candidate in 2014.
Political analysts say that because there are so many Salvadorans living in the U.S., any candidate for president has to demonstrate that his government would have good relations with the Americans. This was undoubtedly what was on Mr. Sánchez Cerén's mind when he worked out his visit. But given what is now being said about him by local and national politicians, it seems to have backfired.
In Nassau County on Aug. 8, things went swimmingly for the FMLN firebrand who specialized in terrorizing civilians during El Salvador's civil war in the 1980s. Freeport's Democratic Mayor Andrew Hardwick recognized him as the "Salvadoran-American Person of the Year." Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano cheered, along with Republican congressional candidate Fran Becker, at a ceremony where Mr. Sánchez Cerén received as a gift an American flag decorated with the names of the 9/11 victims. Mr. Mangano also gave him the "key" to the county. To top things off, after a meeting with House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R., N.Y.), he had his picture snapped with the conservative congressman