Posted tagged ‘You Can’t Make This Stuff Up’

Outreach Update: Credit (not much, but still) Where Credit is Due Dept.

June 21, 2013

Yesterday I brought to your attention the dulcet stylings of one Jim Allen, Montgomery County (IL) GOP chair, who slimed a fellow Republican primary challenger (Erika Harold)  to the fellow (Rodney Davis) he supports thusly:

Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in (expletive)-cago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires….Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…”

In my post on this, I wrote that the significance isn’t so much that one guy from downstate is a hateful moron, but that the real issue is that he is part of an institution with a culture and a leadership that permits, some would say even nurtures, such utterances (and beliefs):

 …I’m not suggesting, for example, that John McCain or Mitt Romney or Mitch McConnell or John Boehner or whoever are sitting behind their desks saying to themselves daily that Barack Obama as a N*clang!, or Nancy Pelosi as a pimp or whatever.

But they and others are leaders of a party that — with seemingly growing intensity since 2008 — has tolerated within its ranks the use of grotesque racial and sexist crap that garners, most often, only the weakest of pro-forma rebuke coming from the actual voices that could shape the culture of the party.  If party NCOs (and Allen’s hardly the first) feel comfortable enough to spout as above, it’s in large measure because the Republican party — their own tribe — hasn’t made it clear that there is no place for such words and such beliefs in the party of Lincoln.

Shorter:  if you want people who don’t look exactly like you to think that you don’t hate them, you have to make sure your folks don’t say out loud how much they, in fact, do despise the other.

Today we learn two things. First, that someone managed to get it through Allen’s impressiveJim Allen has been well and thoroughly taken to the woodshed, and he got the message:

Allen didn’t return calls seeking comment Wednesday or Thursday, but he issued an apology via the Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register.

“My comments are very inappropriate and wrong, and I apologize to Miss Harold and her campaign and her supporters,” Allen told the newspaper.

Second, some of the leadership of the Republican Party I called out yesterday responded with the kind of condemnation words like Allen’s should earn:

As national media picked up on the comments, Davis and other Republicans — including [Reince] Priebus, the GOP national chairman — called for Allen’s resignation from his county GOP chairmanship.

“Chairman Allen’s astonishingly offensive views have no place in politics. He should apologize & resign immediately,” wrote Priebus, who has launched a $10 million minority outreach project for the national party.

Masaccio-Banishment

Allen followed that diktat, resigning yesterday.

So — I’m glad I was at least partly wrong in what I wrote yesterday.  Public condemnation does not eradicate racism, sexism or any other hateful diminishments of “the other” — certainly not from any individual already mired in such wretchedness.  But it does assert a cultural claim, especially on those who affiliate with or feel tied to leading figures who express such condemnation.  We need more Republicans to be willing to speak as bluntly as Priebus did in this instance.

Given that why do I suggest I was only partly wrong?

Because the last several years have seen too much filth fly by, too much dog-whistling (Newt Gingrich, anyone?  Mitt Romney joking about his birth certificate?  All the sh*t Nancy Pelosi ignores every damn day…and so on).  Allen makes the current marketing push by our friends on the far side of the aisle less effective.  He’s one of 102 county chairmen in a red district of a reliably blue state.  He’s expendable.  When Preibus and other national figures anathematize a sitting member of Congress or a candidate in the GOP 2016 primary for saying stuff that passed as perfectly acceptable in their circles, then I’ll believe that the Republican Party actually means it when they say race-signalling and sexist crap have no place in their politics.

Still, complaining about reactions to provocations yet to come shouldn’t obscure the credit due here. Allen’s email was the outrage in front of them, and a major Republican figure has responded appropriately.

Good.

Image:  Masaccio, The Banishment, before 1428

Outreach

June 20, 2013

Via TPM…I guess the Reagan Rule doesn’t apply if you are Republicaning while Black*:

From: Jim Allen <jimallen@consolidated.net>
Sent: 06/18/13 10:59 PM
To: [Doug Ibendahl]
Subject: 13th Congressional District reply

Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.

Yup, that’s the actual first line of an email about Erika Harold, a Republican mounting a primary challenge — from the Montgomery County’s Republican party chairman, Jim Allen.  You can find the complete text here. PSA:  it doesn’t get any better from its opening.  One more choice little number — it seems that Ms. Harold is not just someone born out of wedlock and all that, she is, to Mr. Allen, something else:

Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN

L_Fontana_Gesù_appare_Maddalena

Ladies and Gentlemen: your modern GOP. Treasure it.

I got just two thoughts to add to a message that I think speaks just fine for itself.

First, there is one detail you should know: Allen actually sent his email to a journalist, Doug Ibendahl, the editor of Republican News Watch, the site linked above.

Now, in general (and even before the NSA revelations) it’s a good idea to assume any message on which you press “send” is essentially a public utterance.  But to write to a ink-stained wretch?

Oy.

Even if, to steal Molly Ivins’ immortal phrase, you are in fact so dumb they have to water you twice a day, c’mon!  You have to know you’ve just shouted whatever it is from the rooftops.  If Allen represents the best Montgomery County Republicans have to offer, then…

…hell, fill in your own disaster du jour.

The only other thing I have to say follows from the above.  I’m guessing that in fact Mr. Allen can tie his own shoes, navigate a knife and fork and all that.  He’s stupid — mind numbingly, catastrophically moronic — but only in a narrow way.  Whatever internal circuit that might have suggested to him that the message above might not be a wise thing to say has been deactivated.  And that’s really the issue, at least in a political sense.

Here’s the thing:  obviously what Allen wrote is hateful, racist, scummy, craptastic…I’m wishing now I knew one of those languages whose vocabulary of invective was much richer than my own.  (Yiddish!  I wish I really had Yiddish in my bones.  See, e.g. this one — relevant to the need to vet those who may speak for your team: Dos hitl iz gut nor der kop iz tsu kleyn — The hat is fine but the head is too small.) But the truly amazing thing to me is not that he thought such vile thoughts, but that he was willing to say so in a very public way.

This is what makes this little glimpse of nastiness something more than just an insight into one crappy excuse for a human being.  That Allen didn’t have enough sense to realize that what he was saying should have been un-sayable tells you that the environment in which he lives and breathes does not view such sentiments as out of bounds.  Calling a young African American woman taking part in the political process a bastard and a whore is OK where Allen lives…

…and, of course, his home is inside the Republican party.

Now, disclaimer:  I’m not suggesting, for example, that John McCain or Mitt Romney or Mitch McConnell or John Boehner or whoever are sitting behind their desks saying to themselves daily that Barack Obama as a N*clang!, or Nancy Pelosi as a pimp or whatever.

But they and others are leaders of a party that — with seemingly growing intensity since 2008 — has tolerated within its ranks the use of grotesque racial and sexist crap that garners, most often, only the weakest of pro-forma rebuke coming from the actual voices that could shape the culture of the party.  If party NCOs (and Allen’s hardly the first) feel comfortable enough to spout as above, it’s in large measure because the Republican party — their own tribe — hasn’t made it clear that there is no place for such words and such beliefs in the party of Lincoln.

Shorter:  if you want people who don’t look exactly like you to think that you don’t hate them, you have to make sure your folks don’t say out loud how much they, in fact, do despise the other.

Hence how much this one, brief email tells you why the current incarnation of the Republican Party must, and likely will, immolate itself.  For the rest of the country?  We just have to hope is that the GOP does not manage its exit by murder-suicide.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est.

*It’s important to note one more thing:  for all of Allen’s racial code-talking, Erika Harold is, as reported here, about as 21st century American as it’s possible to imagine: “Harold’s heritage is complex—her mother is African American and Native American while her father is Greek, German, and English.”

That comprehensively rich heritage — to me, at least — makes Allen’s zeroing in on Harold value as quota-bait for “minority hires” even more grotesque, if that were possible.  I’m betting I’m not the only one hearing the “one drop” dog whistle.

Image:  Lavinia Fontana, Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene, 1581.