Responding to Racism in Politics

Senior Editor Chuck Sweeny covers politics and government

The only way we'll get rid of racial hate in American politics is to speak out against it when it happens, because race should have nothing to do with political philosophy.

Years ago, at a Winnebago County Democratic picnic at Rockford Speedway, I remember talking to state Rep. Zeke Giorgi, Rockford's Mr. Democrat. A man came up to Zeke -- an old guy he'd known for years -- and proceeded to tell the representative a racist joke about black people. I told the man his "joke" was not funny and challenged him to tell it to some of the many black people at the Dems' picnic.

Although Giorgi did not laugh at what the man's "joke," he looked surprised when I spoke up. After the man walked off in a huff, Giorgi apologized for the guy, saying, "He doesn't know any better."

"Now he does," I replied.

So, that's why I'm especially glad that Doug Ibendahl, who runs a conservative website called Republican News Watch, based in Chicago, shed light and heat on a racist rant by Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Jim Allen against Erika Harold, the 2003 Miss America, Harvard Law graduate and now, candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in the central Illinois district now held by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.

Ms. Harold is black, Mr. Davis is white. Allen, a Davis supporter, used Harold's race and gender to ridicule her candidacy. He send his crude rant in an e-mail to Ibendahl's website in response to a pro-Harold column that appeared there. Are you ready for this?

"Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires," Allen said.

"The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,, are cruel, life sucks and you move on.. Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS."

"These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it..

"Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them."

Thus spake Republican Chairman Jim Allen of Montgomery County.

And then, fire rained from heavens on the Good Ol' Boy who seemed to have walked right out of the movie, "In the Heat of the Night."

Wrote Ibendahl:

"Outrageous comments like those of Jim Allen are why we as Republicans fail to gain any respect from minority voters. If officials in my party (the Republican Party) fail to understand how destructive it is to attack an impressive person like Erika Harold merely because she dares to challenge the good-old-boys, the GOP will remain a losing party for decades. This stay-in-the-back-of-the-bus mentality destroys any hope the Republican Party has for regaining momentum in future elections.”

The story went viral on Facebook and web news sites.

Davis's campaign quickly dropped Allen's name from its list of supporters. Davis called for Allen to resign as chairman.

Then, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman, called for Allen's resignation.

Allen, who had issued a bland apology, offered his resignation Thursday from his chairmanship, and Illinois GOP Chairman Jack Dorgan accepted it.
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