People expect to hear racist claptrap from politicians, particularly those of the Republican Party, but in this day and age the public has at least grown accustomed to hearing the political gasbags spew their private, racist feelings in code - a language that, though the intent of the words are clear, a smart candidate can always swear that the meaning was imbued by the listener and not by the actual speaker of the words. "Thugs," for instance, is political speak for young black men - or sometimes members of a labor union. The intent of speaking in code is to inflame without being too obvious and later having to own the consequences.
Reince Priebus, the dilettante chairman of the national Republican Party, the man whose ultimate responsibility it is to see that Republican candidates and office holders maintain a certain level of public decorum and electability, has been falling down in the performance of his duties as of late. In particular, Priebus doesn't seemed to have taken measures to ensure that all of his Republican lemmings understand how to speak in code.
Of particular concern at the moment is the outspoken and marginally functional governor of Maine, a Republican by the name of Paul LePage. LePage, who was already the target of impeachment over his blatant (and successful) attempt to bully the head of a charter school into withdrawing a job offer to the Democratic Maine Speaker of the House, has again stepped into a pungent pile of dog crap - this time over saying exactly what he meant.
The governor, speaking about drug dealers coming into his state to do their business, issued this verbal jawdropper:
“These are guys with the name ‘D-Money,’ ‘Smoothie,’ ‘Shifty.’
These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home.
Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
Yup. He said that. He might as well have carried a sign reading: "Black drug dealers are coming to Maine to fornicate with our white women."
LePage's intent was to inflame white voters, to get them out to the polls to elect ardent protectors of white women - such as himself. But Poor Paul said exactly what was on his mind - without couching it in codespeak mumbo-jumbo. One has to wonder if he has even been given a codebook. Perhaps Priebus is no more competent than Debbie Wasserman-Schultz - the Democratic party chair.
And does racist rhetoric like that of Paul LePage actually inflame impressionable people and lead to bad outcomes. Consider, for instance, the case of Dylann Roof, the very young man who took some of his weaponry into a black church in Columbia, South Carolina, and opened fire on worshipers as they knelt in prayer - killing nine. Roof allegedly said, as he opened fire,
“You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go.”
The mistreatment of white women by blacks - be it alleged rape or something as simple as making direct eye contact - has been a motivator for vigilante violence since the end of the Civil, and it held a particularly strong influence on American society in the late nineteen century and first half of the twentieth century. Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was tortured and lynched in 1955 Mississippi for supposedly "flirting" with a white woman.
Paul LePage was almost seven-years-old at the time of Emmett Till's murder. A reasonable person would think that all of us would learn something from an incident that horrific - and then maybe underscore the importance of racial tolerance with the vile that Dylann Roof spewed just last summer. Sadly, if Paul LePage took a message from either of those events - it was the wrong message.
Kudos to the state legislature of Maine for starting the impeachment process.