This is only the second entry of this feature I have done since PVP established itself a couple of weeks ago. Initially I was contemplating doing my second post of this variety on the buffoonery of billionaire birther Donald Trump and his assertion that is as vacuous as its proponents are relentless; that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
But when an e-mail surfaced from an official of the Orange County Republican Party member and tea party activist was sent out touching on the twin pillars of the fringe right, ‘birtherism and racism’ this was hands down the top contender to be the latest moment of idiocy.
Last Friday Marilyn Davenport, Board member of the Orange County, California Republican Party representing the county’s 72nd Assembly of the party’s central committee sent out an e-mail to her janissaries and colleagues. The picture consisted of a mock family portrait of three chimpanzees in a mock family portrait; one posing as the father, another as a mother, and a third as a young boy with President Obama’s face superimposed over the face of the third with the slogan: ‘ Now you know why…. no birth certificate’.
The e-mail sent by Davenport to fellow conservatives was supposedly leaked to the OC Weekly, and has understandably caused an uproar of controversy, by those who say the portrayal of President Obama as a Chimpanzee, has clear undertones of racism.
These abhorrent and racially tinged e-mails are common among some conservative cliques, especially those associated with the Tea Party movement. Past examples include Los Alamitos mayor Dean Gorse who in 2009 following Barack Obama’s inauguration e-mailed to fellow activists a cartoon of the White House with the front lawn transformed into a watermelon garden. And of course there was failed 2010 New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paledino, who before running for office passed along racist e-mails (as well as ones of women performing sexual intercourse with partners of shall we say the equestrian variety).
Anyway, much to his credit Scott Baugh, the head of the Orange County Republican Party has called the e-mail passed along by Davenport ‘despicable’ and ‘dripping with racism’ and has demanded that she resign as a member of the Party’s central committee.
Davenport for her part has responded to the controversy surrounding the e-mail with an apology “if anyone was offended” saying that it was intended as a joke not racist. In fact, she said it never even entered her mind that it could possibly be viewed by anyone as racist. She also said she was no racist and that some of her friends are black (a real original defense by the way), that there were plenty of odious e-mails about George W Bush, and that this is all essentially a non- story.
The e-mail from Davenport to her fellow Republicans regarding this incident was obtained by R Scott Moxley, the OC Weekly reporter and blogger who broke the initial story.
“I’m sorry if my email offended anyone. I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth. In no way did I even consider the fact he’s half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race. We all know a double standard applies regarding this president. I received plenty of emails about George Bush that I didn’t particularly like yet there was no ‘cry’ in the media about them. One only has to go to Youtube or Google Images to see a plethora or lampooning videos and pictures of Obama, Bush and other politicians. That being said, I will NOT resign my central committee position over this matter that the average person knows and agrees is much to do about nothing. Again, for those select few who might be truly offended by viewing a copy of an email I sent to a select list of friends and acquaintances, unlike the liberal left when they do the same, I offer my sincere apologies to you–the email was not meant for you. For any of my friends or acquaintances who were the recipients of my email and were truly offended, please call me so I may offer a sincere verbal apology to you.”
Davenport’s assertions that there is a double standard applies regarding the President. Yes, there were many egregious things said about President George W Bush (comparisons to Hitler). Some conservatives even say that portrayals of Barack Obama as an ape are no more offensive than those that progressives have decemenated portraying President Bush as a monkey. Again there is no comparison and anyone who has attained an education is say anything above Middle school level U.S History knows that full well. There is a long history of white racists and bigots employing comparisons of apes to dehumanize African-Americans. Contrary to what seem to think, racism isn’t just those acts confined to burning a cross, lynching someone, or calling an African-American the n-word to their face.
Davenport said it wasn’t meant to offend anyone, after all she just sent it to a few select like-minded people.Ms Davenport doesn’t seem to comprehend that racism whether stark naked or clothed; whether done in open to a person’s or group of person’s, in a huddle of other like-minded white conservatives at an Orange County barbecue or cocktail party. Or in a forwarded e-mail. It’s just as offensive, just as cowardly, and just as empty-headed. If she has any dignity or cares at all about the party she should resign.
Davenport asserts that she will not resign (as demonstrated in her e-mail above).Reports indicate that according to the party bylaws Baugh will not be able to fire her from the board after all she is an elected official. So the best that Baugh and the more tolerant or sane officials in the party can hope for is a censure and hearing by the party’s ethics panel.
If those like Ms Davenport are in fact the face of the Orange County Republican Party, then it is easy to see how in the 21st century the party’s standing Orange County residents, is starting to erode in this historically Republican stronghold.