Thursday, July 09, 2009

The party of waterboarding and wingnuts

It takes a simple screenshot from to sum up what's wrong with the Republicans.

Here you have a story about the battle, culminating this weekend, for leadership of the Young Republican National Federation -- the group that supplies the GOP with much of its "up-and-coming" talent (for lack of a better word).

It describes the race pitting Rachel Hoff, a 26-year-old with a voter-fraud conviction on her rap sheet, against Audra Sigler Shay, a 38-year-old Louisiana GOP moonbat who's a current YR vice-chairman and has been known to cheer on racist commenters on her (now-deleted) Facebook page.

The story by Jillian Bandes, however, doesn't mention anything about voter fraud or racist outburts -- but there is a nice ad next to it for a T-shirt that says "I'd Rather Be Waterboarding."

Fraud, racism and torture -- pretty much everything the Republican Party has come to stand for. And party Whigs, er, bigs wonder why voters have run screaming into the night.

They know nothing. Know-Nothing at all.

ACCORDING TO John Avlon at The Daily Beast, this is what happened July 1:

Shay—a 38-year-old Army veteran, mother, and event planner from Louisiana who has been endorsed by her governor, Bobby Jindal—was holding court on her Facebook page, initiating a political conversation by posting that “WalMart just signed a death warrant” by “endorsing Obama’s healthcare plan.” At 1:52, a friend named listed as Eric S. Piker, but whose personal page says his actual name is Eric Pike, wrote “It’s the government making us commies… can’t even smoke in my damn car… whats next they going to issue toilet paper once a month… tell us how to wipe our asses…”

Two minutes later, Piker posted again saying “Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals.”

Eight minutes after that, at 2:02, Shay weighed in on Piker’s comments: “You tell em Eric! lol.”

Shay now claims that she was only responding to Piker’s first comments, not having noticed the second. The eight-minute gap between the second post and her response strains the credibility of this defense.

It didn’t take long for other posters on Shay’s page to do the math. First, Derek Moss wrote “What’s disheartening is the use of the word 'coon' in 2009. Wow… I’m usually outnumbered about 500-to-1 on Audra’s threads so go ahead, lemme have it, I deserve it.” He apparently expected to be criticized as among this crowd for calling out the racist comment.

Cassie Wallender, a national committeewoman from the Washington Young Republican Federation, then wrote: “Someone please help a naïve Seattle girl out, is Eric’s comment a racist slur?” She answered her own question one minute later: “Okay, why is this okay? I just looked it up. ‘It comes from a term baracoons (a cage) where they used to place Africans who were waiting to be sent to America to be slaves.’ THIS IS NOT OKAY AND IT’S NOT FUNNY.”

AND THEN . . . more fireworks on Shay's Facebook page from the subliterate George Wallace wannabe some nine hours after his "coon" comment -- and 8 1/2 hours after Shay's "You tell 'em" response. Again, from Avlon on TDB:
Shay was silent on this exchange, but soon word started spreading throughout the Young Republican circuit, open to GOP members under 40. Significantly, Shay then “de-friended” Wallender and Conner—in the world of Facebook, that means cutting off relations—after calling her out, but kept Piker as a “friend” (subsequently, it appears their profiles are no longer linked).

“If Audra really did find these remarks to be 'outright disgusting,' then why was her response to immediately de-friend those who made statements against Eric's blatant racism?” Wallender wrote yesterday in a letter to the Young Republican National Committee. “I was blocked for stating that Eric's racist comment was "NOT OKAY. And it is not funny." Please take a moment look at the entire screenshot linked above, and ask yourself: which comment would lead you to de-friend someone, mine, or Eric's?”

In the face of the “coons” comment, Shay’s main concern seems to have been damage control. She deleted the controversial exchanges from her page (but not before screenshots were taken) and tried to tamp down the fire internally. Almost eight hours after Piker’s comments, and Shay’s ensuing “LOL”, Shay posted a Facebook status update stating that neither she—nor her Young Republican political slate—“condones the use of racial slurs on my wall…. It is not right to nor appropriate to talk that way and will not be accepted!”

At 10:31 p.m., a friend named Dale Lawson raised the P.C. defense, writing “the over reaction to it was a little amusing.” Then her friend Piker came roaring back: “I agree with dale… this is still America… freedom of speech and thought is still allowed… for now any ways… and the last time i checked I was a good ole southern boy… and if yur ass is black don’t let the sun set on it in a southern town…”
SHAY, SADLY, is pretty par for the course when it comes to the stripped gears and unbalanced cogs that comprise the Louisiana Republican machine.

In the 1980s, it specialized in trying to get blacks purged from parish voter rolls. Now, it's pretty much reduced to snickering at morons' rants and playing in the tar pits of racial paranoia and political resentment.

Of course, in Louisiana, this kind of thing can draw an approving audience -- note the conspicuous silence about his gal's Facebook faux pas from the head of the state GOP, the Indian-American Jindal. Is he LOL at the "coon" cracks, while trying to make sure the "sun don't set" on black asses in the Southern towns under his jurisdiction?

Obviously, decency and decorum are outmoded concepts in the Louisiana Republican Party. So much so that the party's head -- and governor of Louisiana -- can't be bothered to denounce what was -- at a minimum -- tolerance by one of his cadre of the worse sort of racist rantings.

And not only that, but tolerance by a campaign aide who had stuck her keyboard in her mouth before, as noted by Marc Ambinder on The Atlantic's politics blog:

Subsequent to that, it's discovered that candidate "A" commented beneath a picture of a Halloween festival, "What, no Obama in a noose?" and then wondered whether liberals would get mad if Republicans posted a picture of "homosexuals in a noose," as a counterweight to a picture she'd seen of Sarah Palin in a noose.

Here's why Republicans should take this seriously. A double standard exists in American politics. Republicans have much less of a margin for error when it comes to making racially insensitive remarks. That may be fair, given the party's recent history (not its most recent history, but its Southern strategy history), or it may not be, but it exists, and it's a given, and Republicans who feel they ought not be judged by a different standard might as well move to a different country.

The Young Republican National Federation is little known outside the Republican world, but it is a fertile source of activists for the party; with the absence of young and dynamic party voices, YRNF officials go on to bigger and better things; the organization, while much attenuated (and scandal-plagued) in recent years, is the largest collection of professional young Republicans in the country. The RNC needs younger voices; the YRNF provides them.
WHEN I TOLD my wife about all these goings-on today, she was speechless. Literally.

Did I mention she's a Republican?

It seems to me that when you have Republicans engaging in behavior -- and displaying attitudes -- that leave even other Republicans at a loss for words . . . out of sheer horror . . . you have a party well on the way to having absolutely nothing to add to the national conversation.

Absolutely nothing.

You have a party trying to rebuild itself upon a rotten foundation. You have a party -- or at least a good half of a party -- conflating bigotry, hatred and abject paranoia with "principles."

And if that's how the Republicans decide they're going to roll, they will have earned their soon-to-come place alongside the Whigs and the Know-Nothings in American history's trash heap. Tune in Saturday in Indianapolis to see whether the Young Republicans elect the Beltway election cheat or the racially insensitive Louisiana moonbat.

I'm not a Republican, but I think I can give the YR delegates a bit of advice from once upon a time down on the bayou.

Vote for the crook. It's important.

1 comment:

Minnesota Central said...

Great summary.

Is it fair to say that Shay had a “Macaca-moment” ? The Barnes piece says “Shay is relatively less experienced with the online world — her hometown YRNF chapter doesn't even have a website — but what she lacks in technological aggression, she makes up for in hard-line rhetoric.” There is an old expression, a drunken woman (or man) says, what a sober woman thinks. In the online world of FACEBOOK, Shay probably never realized what she was saying but if her slant on issues is a stated in the Barnes article tells us a lot about her leanings. It would be surprising for the Republican delegates to pick Hoff based on her approval of civil unions … I look for a Shay first ballot victory and more Macaca moments in the future.