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:
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.
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.
Image: Masaccio, The Banishment, before 1428