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Is Sally Kern an aberration?

For the GOP to not condemn Kern is to condone her actions.

Sen. Andrew Rice April 29th, 2011

Being the Democratic nominee for United States Senate in 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama was the nominee for president, was an eye-opening experience.

The first of many unsettling racist encounters as I traveled across Oklahoma was in a diner where a voter told me that "Obama should be taken out before it is too late." In 2009, after the president was elected, colleagues and I saw a Tea Party protester at a rally outside the state Capitol with a sign that simply read, “Biden 2009.” Obviously, there is only one way a sitting vice president becomes president in a nonelection year.

Perhaps more unsettling has been the complete silence of prominent Republican leaders in Oklahoma to the persistent racism within their political party and in Oklahoma’s political culture since the election of Obama. No objective person can deny that it is there. After all, Rep. Sally Kern's racist comments came on the same day that the first African-American president in the history of the United States was forced to publicly reveal his birth certificate in order to appease a wing of the GOP that is driven by racist sentiments.

For the GOP to not condemn Kern is to condone her actions. And I am afraid the reason it is not being challenged by the GOP is not because they naively think concerns over racism are overblown, but because to condemn this pervasive political bigotry (which also includes homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Hispanic xenophobia and sexism) could have negative electoral consequences for their candidates. They know this is true, but they will never publicly admit it.

With power and public service comes great responsibility.

Clearly, Gov. Mary Fallin, House Speaker Kris Steele and other GOP leaders are hiding from the toxicity of Kern compulsively revealing her deeply offensive beliefs on the House floor. Her apology was surely forced on her behind closed doors. And we all know that there are Oklahomans who agree with her, but who are not willing to defiantly air them publicly like Kern.

It is disappointing that Republican leaders, who I know are more moderate than Kern, seem not to want to disturb the base of their political party by publicly condemning her. I can't interpret their timidity in any other way. “I disagree with her” is about the least enthusiastic comment one could make in opposition. It is like when someone says with annoyance, “Well, if you want me to say ‘I’m sorry,’ then ... I’m sorry.”

GOP leaders are simply putting politics before principle. To show no outrage toward what is undeniably a racist statement that could also be found on a white supremacist website, shows a lack of moral leadership.

The GOP will surely keep rolling up their electoral victories in the near future in the Oklahoma. However, they may want to think a bit more about their legacies and at what cost they creatively try and hold their conservative coalition together year by year. I am sure the near-term power is intoxicating, but at what cost to the greater good?

Sen. Rice, a Democrat, represents District 46 in Oklahoma City.

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05.02.2011 at 10:14 Reply

Before I respond with overwhelming agreement, let me afford you some information about myself. 


I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, so rural in fact that I never attended school with any blacks.  So if anyone should be racist it’s me.  And I’m willing to admit that I am racist, at least a little, or a lot depending on which person you ask.  As a white guy, I hate to see anyone driving around with ugly gaudy rims, and blasting a stereo which has a greater value than the ancient Impala or Caprice they put it in.  And don’t get me started on the questionable “music” they listen to.  Maybe it’s just me, but when your music refers to women as “bitches” then it’s no longer music.  When I see anyone, white or black emulating this popularized Ghetto stereotype, I get really annoyed.  My first thought is that, I wonder how many drugs you have to sell to pimp out a ride like that.  I will wholly admit that is a horrible thing to say, and it’s probably not always the case.  I happen to share an office with a black man who has a 65’ Impala which is equally tricked out, he’s an Army veteran, and owns rental property.  So I am ashamed for the stereotypes I levy against this race.  I like to think that had I grew up around more African American’s I wouldn’t be this way.  But I bring this up to prove a point.  I can acknowledge my racism, and by knowing that I suffer from it, I can endeavor to be a better person.


Rep Kern feels as I do.  Well, except for that last part, she doesn’t acknowledge her racism, nor does she want to change.  I can guarantee you that if a pimped out Impala lingers in her neighborhood too long; she’s on the phone with police.  But for all she knows, she’s reporting my co-worker, a law abiding, and tax paying citizen.  And that is racist.  She needs to come out of the closet, so to speak, and admit that she has flaws with regard to accepting other races as equals.  This is echoed in her party.  You cannot stand in a pile of manure and tell me you smell roses.


The Republican Party is ostensibly above reproach with regard to their policies on race.  But we all know that’s not true.  The party has a history of making policies that will maintain their own philosophical beliefs which render other American’s beliefs null.  And last time I checked, quashing another’s sense of self isn’t an American ideal, it’s more totalitarian.  I have no doubt that if the GOP could pass laws mandating a single State religion (Christianity), they would do so.  If they could pass a law condemning homosexuals to death, they would do so.  And if they could make it legal to execute an illegal on the spot, they would do so.  So, yes there is a lot of racism and bigotry in the GOP, but it’s not just them, it’s also the Tea Party.


We live in an era where a Black president is lambasted about his birth certificate and college transcripts, when none of the 43 previous White presidents had to endure such scrutiny.  You cannot tell me this isn’t racially motivated.  What kind of a world do we live in where a person of color who defies all the odds, and takes the highest office, gets told he wasn’t good enough to get there?  That’s so pathetically un-American.  We are supposed to tell our children that if they work hard they can be anything they want to me, but now apparently that statement has to be amended if you’re anything other than a White Christian.  Maybe we have to tell our children, “If you work hard, you can be anything you want to be, unless you’re Black, Hispanic, Muslim, Gay, etc….  Then you have to work REALLY hard and even when you get to the top, you still have to prove you’re good enough.”  Yeah, that doesn’t sound even remotely racist or bigoted.


You are right sir; there is this undercurrent of racism running through the party.  And they would do well to stop it every time in rears it’s ugly head.  But in cases like Marilyn Davenport, it’s completely permitted to send out an e-mail with the president’s face photoshopped on a chimpanzee.  Ironically, like Kern, Davenport doesn’t believe she is a racist, and refuses to step down (let alone even be asked by her party to step down).  The nail in her coffin is the fact that she admitted to not e-mailing the photo to some of her “friends” because she felt they might be offended.  That sure sounds like the actions of someone who knew they were doing something racist.  The GOP and the Tea Party would do well to weed out their racist cores.  Because for all intensive purposes I could be a Tea Partier (because I hate government waste), but there are these pathetic underpinnings that discourage people like me who want to see people treated equally.  Keep in mind that equal treatment means equal taxes, with equal tax loopholes, and therefore, everyone taxed at the same rate no matter what!


As a further insult to race, the GOP has assaulted programs intended to help those underprivileged.  And statistically speaking, those programs benefit minorities.  If those programs are killed, you’ll see a spike in crime caused by those minorities, then you end up paying a lot more to incarcerate those minorities.  In the long run it’s cheaper to maintain those programs while encouraging education programs to wean these people off the government funds.  It’s cheaper to support efforts like Planned Parenthood who could provide contraception to poor teens who would otherwise bring a child into an unstable home, only increasing the likelihood of ethnic regression.  You can sheer up there programs with mandatory drug testing, to ensure the funds go to those who are focused on bettering themselves and their way of life.  But instead they seem focused on annihilating the programs entirely under the guise of budget cuts, without bothering to address more expensive issues like making sure the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, or eliminating excess in defense spending.  It’s all too obvious that the GOP is doing everything in its power to push middle and lower income families into poverty while elevating the financial well being of their already wealthy friends.  This assault begins on the minorities, but will eventually cut into the white community.  So my question is why are those poor whites still supporting the GOP?  Unless you have money, they do not speak for you, they do not care about you, and they will not help you when you need it.  Kern is an extremely accurate caricature of a white supremacist and the GOP would do right by our people to oust her and all those who echo her racist agenda.  Until then, the GOP will always be known as a party of rich whites, and poor racist whites.  Those groups are shrinking, and so too will your election numbers.  Reverse course now, or you’ll cease to exist.