Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Bill Clayton is a Wingnut. Literally.
He has been a speaker at meetings of The Wingnuts, a Rapid City, S.D., political organization. The Rapid City councilmember is also a Birther: someone who believes that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore not eligible to serve as president. Recently, Clayton had to recently apologize for making a racist joke about a local African American reporter, suggesting that she should be deported to Africa.
By the way, he made a joke about a fellow member of the city council, suggesting that someone should get her out of the way by shooting her in the head.
Rapid City, S.D., Councilmember Bill Clayton told an African American reporter that she should go back to Africa. (Photo from
On August 29, Taisha Walker, a reporter for local television station KOTA, called Clayton about a controversial property tax increase. Clayton fiercely opposed the tax. Clayton responded to Walker’s questions by asking her how she planned to vote in the presidential election. Walker, who has a master’s degree from the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, said she told Clayton that, as a reporter striving for objectivity, she didn’t plan to vote. Clayton then apparently questioned her nationality.
According to a complaint filed by Walker, Clayton asked ber, “Should we deport you back to Kenya with Obama?" and "Are you even American; are you American?" (For more on this, see http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/journal-exclusive-alderman-bill-clayton-probed-over-possible-racist-comments/article_0e8f6090-080f-59f6-9aba-0430c31acba5.html).
Taisha Walker, the television reporter Clayton wanted to deport. ( Photo from http://www.kotatv.com/story/13284160/taisha-walker).
I’ve already discussed why Birtherism is an intrinsically racist belief at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-29-that-whole_28.html. There is no factual basis for questioning whether Obama was born in Hawaii. He released his legal birth certificate from the state shortly after his citizenship was questioned by figures within the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2008. There was a birth announcement published in a Honolulu newspaper within days of the president’s arrival in this world and countless relatives and friends have shared their memory of that time.
Birtherism is based on the notion that an African American cannot legitimately be president of the United States. Birthers believe the United States is, by right, a white country, and that lack people are permanent aliens. Clayton’s birther comments alone reveal him to be a white supremacist.
As for his verbal assault on Walker, Clayton made the unlikely claim that he never watches KOTA and didn’t know Walker is an African American. Rapid City is not exactly a major media market and the universe of politicians and journalists there is pretty small. If Clayton’s comments to Walker were not intentionally racist, why exactly did he turn a conversation about a property tax into one about Obama’s birthplace and why did he suggest deporting a reporter, who turned out to be black, specifically to Africa? C’mon Billy. We’re not as dumb as your supporters.
Earlier this month, Clayton apologized for the comments . "I certainly did not know her skin color. That would not justify any racial remarks," Clayton said at a council meeting, according to the Rapid City Journal. He also claimed he has reassessed his Birtherism. "I understand our president is our president and a citizen of the United States," he said. (See http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/bill-clayton-i-apologize/article_f86001a5-9288-59da-8339-d232180e5d31.html).
A reporter once challenged the segregationist Alabama governor and frequent presidential candidate George Wallace by pointing out that some of his supporters were neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The reporter asked Wallace about why he accepted support from such “kooks.” “Kooks got a right to vote too,” Wallace said. That is a constituency that Clayton ably represents.
At a August 28 meeting of the Rapid City group The Wingnuts, he reportedly launched into an “intense, argumentative, venomous" tirade about another member of the city council, Charity Doyle, according to another complaint filed against him. According to the report, "Clayton ridiculed [Doyle] by questioning her mental fitness to serve on the council, urged citizens to harass her ... and encouraged the public to drive/remove her from office." A witness to the incident, Bonnie Redden, told the Rapid City Journal that Clayton spoke of Doyle "in the most awful tone of voice" to about 20 people attending The Wingnuts luncheon and "then to top it all off, he put his hand in a thing like a gun and put it to his head and said, 'She needs to be gotten rid of in any method necessary.'"
Clayton urged voter to get rid of fellow councilmember Charity Doyle "by any means necessary" before making a hand gesture like a pistol to the head. (Photo from http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/charity-doyle-to-run-for-city-council-in-ward/article_326443ea-45fa-11e0-a4de-001cc4c002e0.htm).
Great – another Republican encouraging violence against political enemies like failed Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle who in 2010 suggested that conservatives might have to turn to “Second Amendment remedies” if the election didn’t go their way. Or Sarah “Lock and Load” Palin who the same year illustrated her website with a map of Congressional districts represented by politically vulnerable Democrats highlighted with rifle crosshairs. (One of the districts literally targeted by Palin was represented by Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the brain by a deranged gunman in Tucson, Arizona January 8, 2011.) Fortunately no lunatic has taken up Clayton on his murderous suggestion. He and Doyle still sit on the Rapid City Council. Clayton is still an elected official. Wingnut indeed. God help us all.
The Rapid City council -- one big, happy family. Well, except for that whole death threat thing. Clayton is on the far left in the front row and Doyle is two seats over to the right. (Photo from http://www.rcgov.org/Mayors-Office/councilmembers.html).
For more, see http://madvilletimes.com/tag/racism/ and http://wonkette.com/498189/dumb-south-dakota-pol-really-sorry-he-told-black-reporter-to-go-back-to-kenya.
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.