Home Virginia Politics What the RPV doesn’t understand about racism

What the RPV doesn’t understand about racism


I’ll keep this very brief, because it’s really a very simple issue, though for some reason the Republican Party of Virginia and its supporters don’t seem to get it.

This is a response to Brian Schoeneman’s post “What’s worse? Racism or using racism as a political weapon?” at Bearing Drift.  The title of this post really says it all–and Mr. Schoeneman really ends up accusing himself and the RPV of what he’d like to defend them against: racism.

Mr. Schoeneman is upset that Democrats have made a habit of calling out Republicans when those Republicans act or speak in a way that is blatantly racist.  To Mr. Schoeneman that is “using racism as a political weapon.”  

No, Mr. Schoeneman, it is not using racism as a political weapon.  Calling out and criticizing incidents of racism is opposing racism.  Does opposing racism have political consequences?  Quite possibly.  But it is in the power of Virginia Republicans to avoid these consequences altogether by simply ceasing to act and speak in ways that are racist.  Just stop being racists and the issue becomes moot.

Where Mr. Shoeneman ends up accusing himself, and by extension the entire RPV, is by using the phrase “using racism as a political weapon.”  In the current scenario the only organization using racism, deliberately employing racism on its own behalf to promote itself and gain political power, is the Virginia Beach Republican Committee.

It is members of the Virginia Beach Republican Committee’s leadership who have been e-mailing around racist jokes, songs, and other material to boost the sense of community and esprit de corps among Virginia Beach Republicans.  Racism seems to be a core organizing principle for Virginia Beach Republicans, something that motivates their participation in GOP activities.

Criticizing the use of racism by Republicans to promote the GOP is not racism: it is anti-racism.  Are Virginia Republicans really unable to understand that?

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  • On that issue, I strongly recommend that everyone read my interview with Pastor Joe Flores of Virginia Beach. According to Flores, there’s  “no doubt” that this racist mindset is out there, the only question is whether it’s “seeping into Republican politics, institutionalizing itself into the system.”  According to Flores, Republicans “play like they’re not racist, they’ve learned to react with shock and dismay when the subject comes up.”  Flores adds that Republicans “play the “game,” namely the “I don’t get it” game. Except that, Pastor Flores believes, they may really not “get it,” given how “heavily indoctrinated” they are in their ideology, “philosophical dogma,” etc. According to Flores, they simply “are not able to think from another person’s perspective…they just don’t get it.”

  • VA Blogger

    And I’m not even close to joking.

    Let’s start with the facts. There is absolutely zero evidence that racist, or racist jokes or emails, are being used to rally Republicans. There is only evidence that a then-sitting GOP Committee Chairman forwarded a racist email to parties unknown several months ago, and that someone who hasn’t served in the party committee in a decade sent out racist email, again, to parties unknown.

    First, clearly the recipients of Mr. Bartholemew’s email were intended to be close, personal friends and not for public distribution. This doesn’t make the email in any way acceptable, but it’s ludicrous to suggest that it was used as a political motivator.

    Second, the recipients of Ms. Beauchamp’s email, hidden in a BCC blast, are potentially more widespread, but coming from someone who doesn’t serve any formal role in the City Committee, doesn’t elevate this beyond one of the millions of random political emails sent and received every day.

    Finally, you couldn’t help yourself by building onto these two unrelated events by saying they include “racist jokes, songs, and other material to boost the sense of community and esprit de corps among Virginia Beach Republicans”. What other materials? There’s one joke and one video. There are no other emails we know of. One was sent to only a handful of people, the other from a person not in any position of power. There’s absolutely zero evidence of any “community” building or these being used as “core organizing principle”.

    To say so is an outright lie and slanderous, and should be removed immediately.

    As for Mr. Schoeneman, it is tremendously unfortunate that you didn’t seem to read a single word he wrote on this topic, and even more unfortunate that he has been banned from making comments on this site, admittedly for no good reason. To choose to call him out by name and completely mischaracterize his statements in a forum where he cannot respond—rather than making a comment on Bearing Drift—speaks of a very immature attitude.

    I have no idea how you missed any of the following lines from Brian’s post:

    I was appalled yesterday when I saw the email

    was pleased when he stepped down last night

    That kind of racism has no place in the Republican party, and I’ve been vocal about it

    contains a video that’s a pretty nasty attack on the President, and one that I think is uncalled for and completely inappropriate.

    racism is racism and it should be stamped out as soon as it happens

    racism is an evil that transcends party

    Racism is wrong regardless of when or where it happens

    Racism is wrong.

    No where in Brian’s post did he even come remotely close to “defending” the actions of anyone involved in this sordid mess. I cannot fathom how you possibly could have reached that conclusion, unless as I mentioned before you didn’t read a single word of his post.

    Furthermore, Brian is not decrying the correct outrage towards these two events. In fact, Brian has joined that outrage. The issue is not whether the Democrats should speak out against racism when it occurs; indeed, as Brian and I agree, everyone should speak out about it when it occurs. And its the final part of that sentence that’s important: when it occurs.

    Bartholemew’s email was sent in March; Beauchamp’s in July. Why are we just now hearing about it, and in language meant to attempt to tie these two individuals to an unrelated candidate in a competitive election?  If the person that sent these to Lowell has had them since March and July, why was that not the best time to bring them to light? If Lowell has had them for that long, why wait until two weeks before the Election to post about it?

    These are very reasonable questions, that were also raised by Ben Tribbet (not exactly a defender of racism himself). And they deserve an answer. Even if you don’t think they deserve an answer, they do NOT deserve having Brian’s reasonable comments distorted so you can make up a lie about a political party you happen to disagree with.

    This is an unfactual and shameful post for many reasons, and I respectfully request that the moderators of this blog edit or remove it. Sadly, I don’t expect anything except a snarky reply.  

  • aznew

    I think Mr. Schoeneman’s post at Bearing Drift referenced here is a poor argument. Indeed, even asking the question of what is worse, racism or using racism as a political weapon — is on its face laughable, and clearly represents an attempt — one that, in any fair reading, utterly fails — to mitigate the ugliness of the racism and the racist emails by indicting the alleged purpose for which it was exposed, i.e., political gain.

    I don’t know Mr. Schoeneman or his history with Blue Virginia. I did have a brief, relatively civil discussion with him about his post last night at Bearing Drift, during which I think he stepped back from some of his more strident and unsupportable allegations about what Lowell knew and when he knew it, even though he did not retreat from his argument.

    As more facts have come to light today, his arguemnt has only grown weaker. Lowell only came into possession of the emails recently, so he did not sit on them for political gain. According to Vivian Paige, the leaker’s motives may have been political (it could have been Kenny golden, or someone setting up Golden), but they may have also been personal.

    In any event, in his post it is worth noting that Mr. Schoeneman went to great pains several times to characterize the emails as indefensible, and he notes that he is involved with outreach efforts to minorities on behalf of the Republican Party. He has denied personally trafficking in this kind of material. He seems sincere in his outrage and disapproval. I take him at his word.

    Given that, I think it is a stretch to transform what is, in reality, no more than a poorly reasoned argument by Mr. Schoeneman into a defense of racism that is, through some rhetorical principle of equivalence, a defense of racism itself.

    That all said, I also think Lowell has a legitimate grievance about the response to story over at Bearing Drift, where he has been personally, unfairly and maliciously attacked. The facts simply do not justify the attacks upon him. I won’t repeat the attacks here — Lord knows Lowell doesn’t need to read that crap on his own blog — but the fact that the central response of what purports to be the most influential Conservative and Republican blog in the Commonwealth to evidence of racism in its own ranks is to personally and unfairly attack Lowell speaks volumes.

    Without personalizing it toward anyone, what it really says is that the GOP might have a serious problem with which is not yet ready to deal in an honest and forthright manner. They have decided it is better to attack the messenger (Lowell) for completely fictitious wrongdoing, or argue that the racist emails are private and should remain undisclosed, or suggest that it might be just a few bad apples, than ask the more serious and painful questions of whether there are racist aspects to the movement of which they are a part.

  • blue bronc

    Using the knowledge and evidence that one or more people, in particular Republicans, Republicans working to put one or more Republicans, in to elected office where they can create or repeal laws that affect all of us, is blatantly racist is somehow using that racism as a political weapon?

    To use a phrase destroyed by a woman idiot, “you betcha!”

    To pretend that if a Republican would not use it as such is absolutely ludicrous.  But, if a Democrat has the evidence and uses it to political advantage that is not nice or unfair, is silly.

    Politics is contact sport. It is not played with many rules.  One rule is to damage your opponents and their support structure. The other rule is to make yourself look like a world saver. A great way to get rid of your opponents is to pop out some terrible and damaging information, ever better is if it is true and you can show it on TV.  A way to make yourself look great is to be seen getting rid of a scourge and the bad mole people.  

    These e-mails are a wonderful political gift, at least for the Dems, and those who fight racism.