Does this statement make any sense at all? First of all, VA GOP Central Committee member Fredy Burgos has been making racist/bigoted remarks for years, and I haven’t seen the Fairfax County GOP or VA GOP take any action against him previously. For instance, see here (anti-LGBT from 2015), here (anti-Muslim tweets from 2016), here (more anti-Muslim crap from 2016), here (a “whites-first rant” in 2017, “announcing that Republican leaders are pushing for a ‘Cultural Cleansing of Virginia and the United States,’ and that the ‘idea that white people, instead of birthing white babies, should interracial marry or adopt non-white children’ is a ‘cancer’, and ‘must be cut out’”) — and much, much more. So what changed now, exactly?
Second, what on earth is THIS idiocy?
“…just because President Trump can break the rules doesn’t mean Fredy can. Fredy can’t get on Fox & Friends or Sean Hannity just by picking up the phone. He doesn’t have millions of Twitter followers. Donald Trump is unique, and he can do things and say things ordinary folks like Fredy and you and I just can’t. “
Since Monday morning, this controversy has been covered by NBC-4, The Washington Post, The Hill, theWashington Times, and several other news outlets. None of this coverage has been favorable, and were it not for the swift response of RPV Chairman John Whitbeck, the coverage would have been much worse.
Fredy has taken down the Facebook post that started all this, but you can see a screenshot in the original Bearing Drift article, here. This is what Fredy wrote:
** MAKE FAIRFAX GREAT AGAIN **
Having preference for Christians over non-Christians as political leaders is not bigoted. It is a preference and a duty we are allowed.
Fredy later tried to clarify, and posted again here. He didn’t help himself at all.
Now suppose – please remember, this is just a hypothetical – suppose that I woke up one day and typed up a statement saying that I will only support men for public office or party leadership. Let’s suppose that I made it really clear that I wasn’t telling anybody how to vote, but just telling folks that I had reached that conclusion, for myself. And let’s suppose that I had evidence to support my conclusion: studies from sociologists and political scientists and psychologists finding that men are more likely, on average, to analyze policy issues objectively and find the most effective solution to problems, and that men are just better leaders. And suppose I posted that statement on Facebook, or broadcast it by email. How long do you think I would still be in office as Chairman? How many emails and phone calls would come in from women telling me I was a clown, and it was too bad Ringling Brothers has shut down because that’s where I needed to go? How many reporters would be calling the state party chairman asking for comment?
Now, if people mostly liked me, and I apologized right away, I might survive. But how effective would I be as a leader after that? Would people take me seriously? No. And if I did something even remotely boneheaded again, the calls for resignation would start back up.
Or, what if I didn’t apologize, but doubled down, and issued another statement saying I have the right to decide on whom to support based on whatever facts or philosophy or theory I want, and I have the right of free speech, and besides, I love women. I just won’t vote for them.
See the problem? That’s what Fredy is saying: I love Jews. I just won’t vote for them.
Now, if I (or Fredy) were just a lone volunteer, and not a Party official, it might not matter much. My district chairman might not want me to speak at a volunteer meeting. The female volunteers might decide I’m a little creepy. But the media would not send camera crews from DC to Fairfax City to get live shots outside the FCRC headquarters, like they actually did on Monday. Julie Carey of NBC-4 was outside our office because Fredy is not just a volunteer, but a public face of the Party, whom we elected. And what she was saying about our Party was not what the Party stands for, and not what we want people to hear. (If you doubt me, please read the RPV Creed, the part about “equal rights, justice and opportunities.”)
When you assume public office, you give up a lot of rights you had as a private citizen. You might have those rights legally, but if you want to stay in public life you must accept that there are things you can’t do or say. That’s because public officials represent the public first. The public expects that, if you accept the honor of representing them, you will behave accordingly
The same is true of Party office, because when you speak, anybody who hears you is entitled to assume that your views are connected to the Party’s views. After all, if there’s no connection between what you think and what the Party stands for, why did you ask to represent the Party? And why did the Party pick you?
Fredy Burgos has had ample opportunity to learn this lesson. I’ve defended him in the past, but this latest instance is a clear-cut case of an utterly indefensible statement. After two years and repeated warnings, Fredy has proven that he does not understand his responsibilities as a member of the State Central Committee.
Let me address a few points some folks might be inclined to make in his defense.
First, this is not a case of challenging political correctness. Just the opposite: the United States Constitution says that there shall be no religious test for federal office. How then can a GOP official announce that it’s OK to apply a religious test? Even for Party office that makes no sense, because either women (in my hypothetical) or non-Christians (in Fredy’s view) are fit to lead or they are not. You may not like this if it conflicts with your personal religious views: But it’s in the Constitution.
Second, Fredy’s position puts every Republican and every potential Republican who is a member of a religious minority behind the eight ball. Why would anybody join a party that allows its officials to say that it’s OK to discriminate against them? In my hypothetical, it was blindingly obvious that I would have been chasing away half of the electorate, so nobody would stand for it. But the fact that Fredy’s comments seem to affect only a small minority doesn’t make them any more acceptable. How can we wonder why Jewish Americans vote Democrat if we allow a Republican leader to say, in public, that he won’t vote for them?
And where does it stop? Who gets to decide who’s a Christian? What about Mitt Romney? What about Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover, who were brought up as Quakers? Or our four Unitarian Presidents? Do we really want to start having that discussion? That’s exactly where Fredy’s position takes us.
Third, just because President Trump can break the rules doesn’t mean Fredy can. Fredy can’t get on Fox & Friends or Sean Hannity just by picking up the phone. He doesn’t have millions of Twitter followers. Donald Trump is unique, and he can do things and say things ordinary folks like Fredy and you and I just can’t.
Fourth, something John Jay said when he was President of the American Bible Society, long after he left the Supreme Court, is not a defense. If you think it is, then I’ll raise you one: Please read George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport.
Finally, this is not a minor incident, we don’t need an investigation, and nobody is overreacting. It’s not the first time, he’s been warned multiple times by multiple people, and the harm is clear.
So that’s why Fredy has to be removed from the State Central Committee. This is no fun for anybody, but he has given up the right to represent us.
Chairman, Fairfax County Republican Committee
UPDATE: See below for a statement from the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.
Statement of Dan Lagana
Chair, Fairfax County Democratic Committee
Again, we find ourselves in the midst of another racially charged incident at the hands of Fairfax County Republicans. Yesterday, Sully District GOP leaders posted a racist and despicable rendering of President Obama dressed as a jailbird in a childish mockery of the new official presidential portrait.
Local and state GOP leaders, as usual, have been reduced to the Ralph Kramden-like “homina homina homina” gibberish that has become the hallmark of their reaction to yet another embarrassment by one of their own.
We have a better idea for Fairfax County voters. It consists of four simple words:
Respect. When Republicans in Sully and Greater Virginia and elsewhere go low, we go high. Everyone is worthy of our respect and the right to be treated with basic dignity.
Empower. We will fight for equity to help ensure that all our residents have the chance to achieve their maximum potential and contribute to our collective future.
Include. No one is excluded from our vision for a prosperous, safe and collaborative community.
Win. When these values are embraced and sustained, everyone benefits.
Get ready over the next few days for more Republican faux outrage: “This sort of thing has no place in our party,” and “This is not who we are.”
Well, guess what: Yes. It. Is. And as far as the rest of us are concerned, we will be guided by our principles and mindful of the great man in the handsome portrait, who said:
“Don’t Get Mad. Vote!”
We are ready for 2018.