Black Republican Ken Barnes confronts his conscience and becomes Black ex-Republican Ken Barnes
I have always thought that black and/or gay Republicans are odd. Over the last few years, however, I have begun to think that black and/or gay Republicans are fundamentally damaged in some way. I know it sounds wrong, and call me small-minded or partisan, but I do not understand pledging allegiance to a party that despises you for what or who you are. This is the party of Donald Trump. Glenn Beck. Antonin Scalia. Michelle Bachmann. Andrew Breitbart. Fox News. Bobby Franklin. Pat Robertson. Sarah Palin. Clarence Thomas.
Certainly, the Democrats are no walk in the park, but at least gays, minorities, and women stand a chance by voting blue. I mean, sure, you may get a dick pic via Twitter, but at least the dude sending it to you doesn’t oppose your right to have an abortion.
Nobody — and I mean — nobody stands a chance with Republicans, and certainly not a bunch of coloreds, ‘mos, and dames.
Below is a snippet of one black Republican’s realization that the GOP is overrun by intolerance and bigotry:
I was one of those rare species: a black Republican, the guy willing to spit into the wind of conventional thought, who was often showcased on camera at party events to prove inclusiveness.
But as a proud black man, I can no longer be a member of the Republican Party.
Being a Republican has long been a part of my personal and professional identities, so leaving the party is a difficult and emotional decision.
In 1998, as a young man searching for what I believed were shared values, I cut ties with the Democratic Party and became a Republican. Democrats, in my view, had become unwelcoming to those holding center-right views not in lockstep with the party, and it was my belief that through hard work, the Republican Party could be utilized as a vehicle for improving our community.
For the next 13 years, I dedicated myself to growing the conservative base of the Republican Party, and in the process bound myself in emotion and deed.
As of late, however, when I look at myself in the mirror there is one question which perplexes me: Can I, in good conscience, remain affiliated with an organization whose message purveyors of racism and bigotry find attractive?
Generally speaking, Republicans are decent people, and naturally, many of my closest friends vote Republican. As with any large organization or group, there will always be people at the fringes who hold views that are not representative of the body.
An organization cannot control the behavior of each individual actor, but it can control its response to abhorrent conduct.
The latest incident in a string of tawdry, race-based actions was the promotion of a racist cartoon by elected Orange County Republican Party Central Committee member Marilyn Davenport1. The cartoon depicted President Barack Obama and his parents as chimpanzees, while simultaneously implying that the president is not a legitimate American, but rather an African-born interloper.
While the Orange County GOP chairman and a number of other committee members were quick to condemn the image and Davenport, what’s disturbing is the incredible number of people who continue to defend Davenport’s actions as well as the cartoon itself.
Had this been an isolated event, it could be set aside as a mere aberration. However, when placed in the context of similar offenses by the same self-identified tea party-conservative Republicans, there emerges a disturbing pattern of extreme intolerance.
Over the past two years, we have seen Republicans use long-held racist imagery in portrayals of Obama. The president has been depicted as a communist witch doctor, a man inclined to plant watermelons on the White House lawn, and we watched in disbelief as his face was placed on an “Obama Buck Food Stamp” along with stereotyped pictures of fried chicken, barbecue ribs, Kool-Aid and the obligatory watermelon.
What does any of this have to do with public policy or conservative values? Here is a man who excelled academically at the finest schools in the world, has a wonderful in-tact family, worked hard and rose to become president of the United States. Yet in spite of his accomplishments, the president is still labeled an illegitimate, socialist, African witch doctor and has his face superimposed on a chimpanzee.
If this can be done to a black man who is the leader of the free world, how long will it be before fellow Republicans insert my face on a chimpanzee?
These behaviors also raise larger issues for African Americans and other minority groups within the GOP. How can I look my parents in the eye and tell them I’m a Republican in spite of these offenses? If he were still living, could my Latino father-in-law be proud that his daughter supports the GOP, in spite of the constant anti-Latino rhetoric that comes from the party? Can gay family members reconcile my support of a party that seeks to strip them of their basic human rights?
These are not issues which pit moderate against conservative views, but rather consequential matters which transcend political positioning and speak to universal human values.
There are a number of Republicans (and Democrats) who will view my switch to “decline to state” as a net gain for the Democratic Party. However, I reject the theory of zero-sum politics which claim we live in a binary world of Democrats and Republicans, where a lack of support for one side works only to empower the other.
Having now been active in both major political parties, I’ve discovered the common prohibited activity is critical thinking.
Indeed. As we stare down the barrel of another week of WeinerTalk (TMZ released new pictures, didn’t you hear?!), I wonder if an unhealthy media-driven obsession with the tawdry dalliances of politicians has permanently supplanted critical thinking. It certainly seems it has.
[via Sacramento Bee]
[cross-posted here at Balloon Juice]