Sunday, February 5, 2012

Republican Racism Example #7: California City Councilmen Laughs About Presidential "Nigger Rigs"

Republican office holders don’t seem to learn that the ugly, intolerant “jokes” they used to share with all their white friends at the country club locker room become public if they share them through email, Twitter or Facebook.  Yet another example of a Republican racist outed through the internet is Gary Frago who, while a city councilmember in Atwater, California, made a career of forwarding incredibly offensive emails to city staff and well-known people in his community.

Among the forwarded messages, sent between October 2008 and February 2009 were:

  • An email comparing President Barack Obama to accused double murderer and imprisoned felon O.J. Simpson.
  • Another missive suggesting that the Neanderthal phrase “nigger rigs” could now be called “presidential solutions.”
  • A caveman blast from January 15, 2009 that managed to be both racist and misogynist.  The email, a parody of a press release, announced, “"Breaking News Playboy just offered Sarah Palin $1 million to pose nude in the January issue. Michelle Obama got the same offer from National Geographic."

Gary Frago's official portrait looks suspiciously like Tom DeLay's mug shot. (The photo was posted on the website of the Merced Sun Star at

Among the recipients of the emails were a county supervisor, a former police chief, and former local leaders of a veterans group and the Knights of Columbus.  Confronted with this embarrassing nonpaper trail, Frago insisted he was just joking and, besides, he didn’t write the emails.  "I don't see where there's a story, I'm not the only one that does it," he told a local reporter. "I didn't originate them, they came to me and I just passed them on."  At least he didn't bother with the standard non-apology apology.

Read more here

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.


  1. One of the best clergymen I ever knew gave his congregation a checklist for fighting racism. One of the actions was to never countenance racist remarks. Frago had a responsibility to discipline any city employees, vendors or other associates who sent such email, and he had a moral obligation not only to NOT forward them but to have a straightforward talk with the senders about the hatred they were perpetuating.

  2. Another comment made by my loyal wife Betsy who was accidentally signed on as me. Thanks, sweetheart.