The trouble with bad manners, Bill Buckley used to say, is that they sometimes lead to murder. This is true in more than a metaphorical sense. Murder, in addition to being a crime, also is a serious breach in morals and manners.
Frothing over with Democratic bumper sticker propaganda, Democratic State Representative Matt Lesser, addressing Republican Party opposition to what has been called “a pay equity bill” let loose on Republicans. Opposition to the bill, Mr. Lesser said, is “rooted in two things: ‘We’ve always done it,’ and bigotry.” Unfortunately for Mr. Lesser, Republican leader in the House Themis Klarides was within ear shot.
Within two days, Republicans managed to put together the poster shown above. And to make matters perfectly clear, Ms. Klarides said, “As a woman who values equal pay for equal work as much as anyone in the legislature, and who has witnessed pay inequality, I am deeply offended by his remarks. Unfortunately, given his track record, I can’t say I am surprised.’’
Mr. Lesser’s track record includes a remark he made in 2011 “during a debate on a transgender discrimination bill: ‘Tonight’s debate on adding gender identity and expression to the state’s non-discrimination laws is being hijacked by ugly fear-mongering.’”
Apparently, disagreeing with Democrats on so called “social issues” opens the GOP to a stream of contumacious remarks designed mostly as cultural gags in the mouth of the opposition. The operative principle of Democrats concerning matters of public dispute appears to be: If you cannot win the argument through licit means, raise your voice or defame your opponent. Republicans courageous enough to disagree with Democrats on social issues are either bigots or fear-mongers. If you label someone effectively, said that old mudslinger V.I. Lenin, you no longer have to argue with him.
Mr. Lesser is not alone. In 2015, CTMirror tells us, Ms. Klarides stopped business in the House for five hours and led “her caucus on a walkout to protest Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s criticism of GOP members for opposing his plan to stop racially disparate drug sentencing. Republicans said Malloy called them racist.”
One wonders what sweaty partisan lexicographer hit upon the happy phrase -- "racially disparate drug sentencing?" Actually, Republicans were opposing a Malloy proposal to repeal “stiffer penalties for drug possession within 1,500 feet of a school or day care.” Noting that the penalties exposed “most urban drug defendants to enhanced sentences,” since “sixty-four percent of those charged with drug possession in school zones are minorities,” Mr. Malloy charged “To treat those folks differently because they live in those communities is patently unfair and, if not racist in intent, is racist in its outcome.”
Here Malloy was deploying the racist gun against Republicans. Those Republicans who wanted additional penalties to be visited upon drug dealers selling or buying near schools or day care centers – however sound their reasons – were racists, if not by intent, at least unwittingly; but, in any case, they were racists still. Republicans could not have been motivated by a concern for young children, mostly minorities, who might be especially open to the blandishments of those selling drugs.
Well now, what percentage of minority children would benefit from a measure that would increase penalties for those who deal drugs near schools and day care centers? Likely – MORE than sixty-four percent, according to data presented in the Sheff v. O’Neill court case. Many schools in Hartford are out of compliance with a court order that requires an equity “balance” of 25% whites to 75% African Americans. Most Republicans would favor a system of school financing in which dollars would follow children to whatever school their parents or parent wishes them to attend; far from being racist, this colorblind apportionment of tax money very well could result in an improved education for minorities now locked into a segregated system that for years has provided urban African Americans with inferior educations -- which is, if not racism in intent, racism in outcome.
It is anti-historical to impute racism to the Grand Old Party of Abe Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas. When Democrats sought to tear apart the union to preserve slavery – certainly a racist act in intent and outcome – it was opposed by the party of Lincoln, the first Republican President, who prosecuted a bloody Civil War to strike the chains from slavery’s feet.
It was the Democratic Party, following the Civil, War that sought to maintain the essence of slavery through Jim Crow laws and lynch mobs organized by the Klu-Klux-Klan, the militant arm of the Democratic Party in the south. The Republican Party armed African Americans. Once armed and in full possession of their Second Amendment rights, African American men fended off the lynch mobs. It is Ida B. Wells -- a much neglected African American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist and feminist -- who reminds us of the part played by Republicans, the 2nd Amendment and the Winchester rifle, made in New Haven, Connecticut, in restoring honor and dignity to fearless African American men. Run out of lynch-prone states by racists, the Republican investigative journalist attained a foothold in Washington DC and New York newspapers, where she inveighed tirelessly against the lynching of courageous African American freedom fighters: “The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.”
Given the racist history of the Democrat Party, it is a combination of poor manners, historical myopia and foolhardy political bravado for Malloy to intimate that modern day Republicans are racist – either by intent or as favoring outcomes in which African Americans in cities remain prisoners of a soci-political structure that insults their intellects and forces them to cringe and beg for educational and economic crumbs given to them by Democrats.