Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Republican Racism Example #23: A West Virginia Republican Calls Obama A "Sambo" And Nancy Pelosi A "Bimbo"

With one stupid joke, West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Larry Faircloth offended African Americans, women, movies fans and decent people everywhere.  (Photo from the Hagerstown, Maryland Herald-Mail website at http://articles.herald-mail.com/2011-05-12/news/29538651_1_joke-president-obama-gubernatorial-candidate)

In his gubernatorial race in West Virginia in 2011, former Republican member of the House of Delegates Larry Faircloth told a “joke” at an April 29 candidates’ forum in the town of Romney that even offended Tea Partiers.  He suggested that in 2012President Obama should replace Vice President Joe Biden with Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone and name former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

He suggested the Democrats’ campaign slogan could be, “"Vote Sambo, Rambo and Bimbo."  Faircloth, who served 24 years in the lower house of the West Virginia legislature, tried to pass off his racist and sexist slurs as just “jokes” that should offend no one.  He later lamely said that he should have told the joke “differently” as if there would be a non-demeaning way to use a word with a similar history to “nigger” or to imply that the first ever female Speaker of the House with a misogynist term implying a woman of low intelligence. Faircloth then issued the standard non-apology apology. “"If I offended anybody, well then I apologize to them," he said.

Apparently he offended a lot of people, including George Rutherford of the local NAACP.  Attitudes like those expressed by Faircloth, Rutherford said, mean, “"we could be pushed back to the 1940s era in race relations. Mr. Faircloth knows full well that these terms are racist and sexist and demeaning, meant to offend women and African-Americans. Mr. Faircloth later said his remarks were a 'joke,' but as African-Americans, we understand his feeble attempt to try to smooth things over. It was not a joke."

Even Terry Carver, president of the Tea Party-affiliated We The People group, asked for an apology, which Faircloth declined to make.  Carver called the joke “totally inappropriate.” Faircloth also offended enough people that he only finished fifth out of eight candidates in the GOP primary, garnering a mere 3.9 percent of the vote.  He is running for West Virginia auditor this year.

Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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