Here we go again. Another Republican, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), is in trouble for being associated with white supremacists. I was going to name this post “Republicans And Racism – Why Can’t They Get Out Of Their Own Way.” , but there is more to this than that.
I want to first make note that the controversy is very reminiscent of the Ron Paul brough-ha-ha that surfaced in 2008. I kind of liked Ron Paul for a little while. He was kind of a thorn in the side of Republicans at large. I especially like his (and his sons) stance on getting untangled from so many of our needless foreign policy commitments.
I had thought about casting my vote for him.
But his, and his sons associations with Lew Rockwell is definitely a deal-breaker. Ron Paul insisted that those letters were not written by him, and he didn’t know about the racial undertones in them….
This leaflet is a monthly letter! It’s got your name on it! It ran for years!!!!! There is NO WAY you don’t encounter it at some point. And if it’s not something you endorse, you, as a politician, would make DAMNED SURE this vile thing with your name on it gets shut down!
That brings us to this latest incident.
Part of me wants to believe this is an innocent mistake. So far, this seems to be the only incident of this manner. That said…. You have two problems:
(1) The guy that invited you to speak at this gathering is Kenny Knight, who, even at the time was a part of David Dukes political entourage and an open white supremest. Here is what Kenny Knight himself says happened:
“This all came about because I organized the EURO meeting for David Duke as a courtesy after he had moved to Russia. I’ve known David for 40 years so I did him a favor. As part of that, I decided to ask Steve, our local representative, to come by and say a few words before the conference started,” Knight said. “He agreed, believing it was going to be neighbors, friends, and family. He saw me not as David Duke’s guy, but as the president of our civic association.”
Knight continued, “Now, at the time, I was a prominent person in state politics. I was on the radio, I was doing campaigns. Steve knew who I was, but I don’t think he held it against me. He knew I lived by his street and that I was active in our community. And I didn’t see a problem with having him speak.”
So Knight himself establishes that Scalise knew he was a Duke acolyte. Knight himself doesn’t see a problem with Scalise speaking there… But why would he! He is hosting the event!
(2) The name of the organization is “The European-American Unity and Rights Organization”. Given Knights known association and support of David Duke, one would think that a politician of any awareness would hear warning bells given all this information.
This all gets back to my original comment about Ron Paul. Though, unlike Paul, things were not done in Scalise’s name, the fact that Knight was well established to be David Dukes right-hand guy would be cause enough for Scalise to turn down the invitation.
So why wasn’t it????
The answer can be found in two words: Local Politics.
It’s the same reason why then State Senator Barrack Obama had no problem associating with Bill Ayers and other former Weather Underground members. It’s not a problem when it’s local and the local communities are either indifferent to the problem, or, which may be the case here, support the cause. From the article above, it’s noted who spoke before and after Steve Scalise:
“Scalise spoke about taxes and government slush funds for a mere 15 minutes, Knight said. Scalise appeared in between a representative of the American Red Cross, who spoke about CPR, and a representative of the local sheriff’s department, who spoke about setting up a local Crime Watch group.”
Did the Red Cross and the Sheriffs Department also know who was throwing the party?
Hard to say.
Thing is, if both those entities were aware of the broader association of Kenny Knight and EURO, they probably didn’t give it much thought. When something bad is part of the natural political / social landscape, it becomes very easy to become desensitized to the wrongness of it. Is that very thing a part of the problems we are having right now concerning police brutality and race? One side simply can not see the problem because it’s part of the accepted political landscape.
I doubt then Senator Barrack Obama actually supported the actions of the Weather Underground, but it was a dumb political move in retrospect to have any association with Bill Ayers. At this point, without more evidence that Steve Scalise has done other things that point to overt racist views, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt here.