Friday, September 07, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #72 - Part 3

Clarabell Award: SC legislator ignores racism in constituent email

Now for the Clarabell Award, given as needed for acts of meritorious stupidity. I've already mentioned this week's dishonoree: Alan Clemmons, the South Carolina state legislator who was the main sponsor for South Carolina's voter ID law.

In his testimony in the suit over that law, he was presented with the text of an email sent to him by a supporter. It said
I don't buy that garbage that if a poor black person or an elderly one, that these people won't be able to get one. You listen to that big racist Clyburn and Harpootlian talk and they make it sound like these people are too stupid to get one.
"That big racist Clyburn" is African-American and civil rights hero Rep. James Clyburn; Dick Harpootlian is the Democratic Party Chairman for South Carolina.

The email went on to say that all the state legislature had to do is give
a hundred dollar bill away if you came down with a voter ID card, and you would see how fast they got voter ID cards with their picture. It would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon.
Faced with this email containing, as he himself admitted in his testimony, "more than a hint" of racism, Clemmons wrote back "Amen. Thank you for your support of voter ID."

Clemmons said his words were a "poorly considered response." I'll say. But here's what got me about this and got him this week's award: When asked if he should have considered getting into a debate over the "swarm of bees" comment, Clemmons said, "I didn't think it was the time nor the place" to do so.

Well, first off, what would be the time and place? But more to the point, if he had said that "I really didn't look at it, I didn't read it closely, I just registered 'constituent agrees, send thank you,'" that might have seemed disingenuous, but at least it would be plausible. But by saying "it wasn't the time or place" to deal with it, he's admitting he was aware of the remark, aware of it's racist nature - and at best he deliberately ignored it if in fact he didn't endorse it.

I'll ask again: What is the right time and place to challenge racism if it's not when you are presented with racism? I know one person not to bother to ask that question: Alan Clemmons, clown.


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