Friday, January 02, 2015

His Own Niche

It was a cliche forty years ago: "some of my best friends are colored," which, loosely translated meant "I really have no problem with Negroes" (then the standard term for black people).

The phrase is long gone but the sentiment remains.  This week we learned then-Louisiana State Senator Steve Scalise, currently House Majority Whip, had spoken twelve years earlier before the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, a white-supremacist group founded by David Duke (video below from C. Hayes of MSNBC, 12/29/14).  Scalise had accepted an invitation offered by Kenny Knight, then an officer of the organization and long-time strategist for Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate.
Lest anyone believe Scalise is (or was) a racist or even harbors a little animosity toward minorities, think again.  The Washington Post's Robert Costa and Philip Rucker report
In 2003, a year after addressing the white-supremacist group, Scalise became an early supporter of Bobby Jindal, an Indian American gubernatorial candidate running against a white Republican heavily backed by the party establishment.
“That would not be the move of anybody interested in white supremacy, getting behind the dark horse, son of immigrants, person of color for governor,” said Stephen Gele, a New Orleans lawyer and Scalise friend.
Costa & Rucker don't reveal whether Gele said this with a straight face, given that the primary racial fault line in the USA, especially in the south, is along white-black lines. Additionally, Scalise may have favored- for strategic purposes or as a matter of principle- Jindal because he was not backed by the party establishment. And oh, by the way- it's not at all clear that Indians are "persons of color." Not all ethnic minorities are. Nonetheless,
Friend Jeb Bruneau said he and Scalise coached a New Orleans basketball league of predominantly black young men in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After practices, which were at a gym next to a housing project, they took the players out to eat, Bruneau recalled.
Rest assured- some of Scalise's best friends are black.  Another friend maintained that in the period during which he gave the speech to the white European heritage group,  “Steve was helping to create what today is the Republican Party of Louisiana, which is not a bunch of racists.” No doubt.
The present, however, is more important than the past, and Repub leaders have resisted removing Scalise from their heirarchy. Digby contends
Perhaps they think that by putting white supremacists in the House leadership they can attract more white people. I don't think that's going to work. They already have the white supremacist faction all wrapped up. The rest of us are appalled.
In order: no, yes, yes, no.  The GOP has the white supremacist faction all wrapped up, for reasons of race and otherwise, and it's critical to their southern majority, a minority of which believes in white supremacy. Otherwise, however, no one cares.  White supremacists, and most other conservatives (and even a few other people) don't even know what a "whip" is.  So Boehner and Co. are not keeping Scalise in place so they can attract more white people or solidify their base, however much the few people (most of them, anyway) following this story are appalled. 
Which one belongs and which one doesn't? John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, Scalise, and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers.  It's not the one woman, who hails from Washington State, while Boehner is from Ohio and McCarthy is from California. Scalise is the only one from a state not carried twice by Barack Obama. Further, he is the only one not closely identified with the GOP establishment. (Remember: he has supported Bobby Jindal, who is at odds with the more popular Senator David Vitter.)  The House Republicans who fashion themselves as outsiders need someone to call their own.
However, there may be another reason because according to
Overall, Duke was rather flabbergasted by the new focus on Scalise. He said he has hosted both Democratic and Republican legislators at everything from conferences to his children’s birthday parties. He said he has met with Democratic legislators at least 50 times in his political life.
And he delivered a warning to both Republicans and Democrats: Treat Scalise fairly, and don’t try to make political hay out of the situation. Or he said he would be inclined to release a list of names of all the politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — with whom he has ties.
“If Scalise is going to be crucified — if Republicans want to throw Steve Scalise to the woods, then a lot of them better be looking over their shoulders,” Duke said.
We could, however, consider the source- a first-class racist (and not coincidentally, virulent anti-Zionist).  If you lie down with dogs....

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