Monday, March 10, 2014

Racism Is The Norm For Team Walker

On Black Friday, I had received a most peculiar fundraiser email from Scott Walker.  One in which he suggested that people should stay home on Black Friday and instead of buying Christmas gifts for his children, they should just go ahead and donate that money to him instead.

Within a few days, the assistant financial director for Walker's campaign, Taylor Palmisano, who had put her name to that fateful email, was  suddenly and unceremoniously dumped by his campaign.  They claimed at the time that it had nothing to do with the email, which had gained international attention by then.

Instead, they claimed that her dismissal was due to a couple of racist tweets she had made three years before.  At the time, I said that it was poppycock:
There are two main reasons why the campaign's statement is false.

One, as my colleague Jeff Simpson pointed out earlier today, these tweets are three years old.  Since the time she made those vulgar tweets, Walker's campaign not only hired her, but promoted her! 

The other reason is that in 2010, one of Walker's campaign staff members, Michael Brickman, made a racist, anti-African American tweet.  This was retweeted by his spokeswoman, Jill Bader.  Not only were these two not fired, but Walker went on to make excuses for them.  On top of that, Walker made Brickman a member of his office staff.

So no, racism among his staff is not an issue for Walker.
Ah, but as the gentle reader surely knows by now, with all things Walker, there is more. There is always more.

With the release of the Kelly Rindfleisch emails from the Walkergate investigations and trials, we learned that the racism was a lot more commonplace than we had even thought.

There was an email from a staffer at the Michael Best and Friedrich law firm which shared the "hilarious" joke of a person signing up their dogs for financial aid.  The joke, as offensive as it was, paled in comparison to the way Walker and his administration actually treated real life applicants in Milwaukee County.   However, instead of being offended, Walker made the law firm the unofficial official law firm for the state after becoming governor, not to mention using them as part of his legal defense cooperation team for his campaign.

Walker's then Chief of Staff, Tom Nardelli, also shared their particular kind of humor by emailing a joke about "a nightmare" he had:
In another email, sent in July 2010, Thomas Nardelli, Walker's chief of staff for Walker at Milwaukee County, forwarded Rindfleisch and others a joke about someone who has what he calls a "nightmare" about turning into a black, Jewish, disabled gay man who is unemployed.

"Oh God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat," the email concludes.
Again, instead of being offended and firing Nardelli, Walker took Nardelli to Madison with him, eventually promoting him and giving him a huge raise.

As the gentle reader can see, the only time that Walker has fired someone for racism is when it has caused him public embarrassment.

Which brings us to a great op-ed piece written by James Anderson and appearing in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Anderson starts out by explaining that he is mixed race, is disabled and is married to an African American woman.  After reciting the offensive emails, Anderson has some very thought-provoking and eye-opening comments to share:
As a Wisconsinite deeply disturbed by these events, I deserve answers. Walker cannot try to claim that this is "old news" or settled history. It's not.

And here is the troubling question I keep coming to: In what other setting would staff members feel comfortable spewing such filth than in those in which they fear no retribution because they know they are speaking among like minds?

There is a reason most people don't use such phrases as "half breeds" in public or their workplaces. Or compare the poor and needy to dogs. Or label illegal immigrants "wretched criminals." Or talk about black Wisconsinites, brown Wisconsinites, poor Wisconsinites, disabled Wisconsinites and LGBT Wisconsinites and all the others maligned by Walker aides as if they were less than human.

To speak so freely in such an insulting and hurtful manner points to a group united in thought about these racist and discriminatory beliefs — a group that Walker was the leader of.

While we may never know for sure whether Walker agrees with these repulsive opinions, it is more than unsettling that the slightest scratch beneath the surface of his organization revealed incidents of hatred and contempt. And having lived through such hatred and contempt, I understand all too well the pain it causes.

The words of Walker associates would've made my mother feel like a second-class citizen. The words of his associates make me and those like me feel ostracized by society. The words of his associates make me afraid for my future children to be raised in Wisconsin.

As of today, all I've seen Walker do is deflect and refuse to answer questions. And because he refuses to stand up and be direct with the people of Wisconsin, to be honest with the people he represents, we are left without answers. And without answers, there can be no truth and no honesty. And if I can't trust Walker, how can I vote for him?

The problem is easily summed up in Walker's own words from a January interview: "Governors should be defined not just by what they do and say, but who they surround themselves with..."

So, Gov. Walker, given whom you've surrounded yourself with over the years, how should we define you?
It should also be noted that not one Republican has come out to condemn these tweets or demand that Walker explain them. Just as like they knew about Bill Kramer's inappropriate behaviors, the Republicans probably already knew about the racism in Walker's camp. And just like they didn't see a problem with Kramer's behavior until it became personal, they seem to be OK with the racism.

There needs to be a lot of explaining to be done by the Republicans, but I agree with Mr. Anderson that it should start with Walker.

1 comment:

  1. As studies have shown, Milwaukee is the most racially segregated city in America. Scott Walker and his Tea Party associates have promoted racially divisive ideas all along. He represents the vision of the Bradley Foundation, as well as the Kochs. Look how diverse the Tea Party is at their gatherings. The minority outreach panel at the latest CPAC drew an empty room.
    I have always thought that there has been a large, unspoken racial element in the Republicans' attacking rail transportation development, as well as pushing voter suppression schemes.
    It's no wonder that Rindfleisch didn't want her documents released, because they reveal a dispicable portrait of how these people think and act. It truly does say a lot about Scott Walker and the Tea Party groupthink when he gives all these jobs as supposedly public officials. I see no improvement in race relations here until these people are replaced.