First Amendment, First Amendment, First Amendment

DunceProfessional bloviators inevitably say something stupid. It is the nature of saying so many things so much of the time. Not all of these statements are as mean-spirited or crazy as they sound. Sometimes it is merely a slip of the tongue or a case of not engaging brain before mouth. But in today’s poisoned political well, it happens and apologies don’t make much difference. Each side seizes the opportunity to make the speaker look as bad as possible for as long as possible, often overlooking the nature and severity of the statement.

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GOP: When Stereotypes Come Home to Roost

We Are Not Racist

PARTY OF LINCOLN? - It's refreshing to see a Republican fight a stereotype about them by taking strong action against a stereotype their candidate imposed on others.

As a party, Republicans have moved from mainstream conservatism toward the outer fringes of their tent.  In getting cozy with their ideological outer edge  they’ve ended up with some unsavory candidates, like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Sarah Palin. In essence, the GOP has been out-righted by the far right.

The party spends a lot of time defending itself from charges of supporting only rich people or Big Business. But they complicate their defense by drafting a new Contract on America™ that’s heavy on tax cuts they can’t explain and inviting de facto lobbyists to help author it.

Huzzah for the GOP
Another charge leveled against the party is racism. While you can no more profile a Republican’s race relations philosophy than you can profile an illegal immigrant, sometimes stereotypes are true. This time the GOP stereotype is NY congressional Candidate, Jim Russell.

I Never Said That

STEREOTYPE? WHO ME? - If the stereotype fits you either wear it or fight against it.

Russell became the party nominee after previous candidate, Paul Wasserman, dropped out. Now the party wants to sue to remove him from the ballot over charges that Russell is a racist.

Judging from his public statements about minorities – like his support for eugenics – his racism seems to show as plainly and unequivocally as a southern belle’s antebellum skirt. But, Republicans shouldn’t be  surprised since Russell has run as a Republican – and lost his primaries – no fewer than three times and they’ve never objected to him before.

The GOP frequently argues against the race card charge by pointing out they’re “the party of Lincoln”. The problem is Lincoln died 145 years ago and the GOP of today bears little resemblance to the GOP circa 1860. The not your great-great grandfather’s GOP often discriminates against all manner of people they don’t like – Muslims, gays, and Mexicans alike.  With a record like that and Russell’s, its little wonder why racial stereotypes of Republicans die about as readily as their stereotypes of race.

A Breath of Fresh Air
But in the Russell case, I’ll give Westchester GOP chair, Doug Colety, props. Not only did he denounce Russell, but said, “We’re not supporting him. We’ve withdrawn funds, volunteers, all resources. This is not the way Republicans think.” Although he also used the party of Lincoln gambit, he did take strong and positive action against a virulent racist. A breath of fresh air, someone who actually does hold people – including himself – accountable.

More’s the pity more GOPers don’t do the same. Instead of praising a Governor promoting unfair – and possibly illegal – legislation against immigrants it would be nice if they actually tried to help find a rational response to the very real problem of illegal immigration instead of spreading rumors of fictional headless corpses along the border. Or, instead of attacking Muslim’s freedom of religion and Constitutional rights, they might listen to some of their saner Christian brethren who call for religious harmony.

Although I don’t think I’d ever be one – but I’d also say, “never say never” – there’s nothing wrong with Republicanism or conservatism, it’s the people, like Russell and Angle & Co., who sometimes give it a bad name. It’s admirable that leaders like Colety accept that the buck stops with them. However, if you bolster your own stereotypes, don’t bitch when they’re used against you.

You’ll be better off as will the nation.

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