SADOW: Scalise And The “Proactive Apology”

In the aftermath of the guilt-by-association show trial that some persist in waging against Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, an interesting observation raised is that Scalise could have avoided problems of this nature by proactively disavowing extremist political figures and their messages. As it turns out, such advice applies only selectively and reflects a larger narrow-mindedness in the minds of those who give it.

Louisiana’s Scalise, then a state representative in 2002 and along with the Red Cross and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, addressed a neighborhood association organized by one of its officers, his topic being an impending tax vote. Yet that organizer also was an official in a white supremacist organization that hours later would use the same room for its meeting, and says some of the look-in audience to Scalise’s brief speech was comprised of members of that latter group.

Gossip about that hit the media last week. Scalise, barely remembering the episode and as most politicians of the time having no idea about the racist group, allowed discretion to be the better part of valor and apologized anyway, considering the odiousness of the group’s views. No sane politician who wanted any kind of political career since the 1970s knowingly would have anything to do with such a toxic group, such would be the backlash if discovered. Indeed, testimonials by others in the world of politics about his character and his record in office show Scalise would be one of the last people not to be repelled by hanging around such a group.

Yet since then, voices from the Angry Left have placed a fatwa on Scalise’s political career, which seems unlikely to be carried out, arguing against all evidence that either he must have known about and thereby tacitly endorsed the group’s goals or he cynically used them to gain future votes, and therefore must be disqualified from holding office. Attempting to bolster this argument was the notion that if these were not the case, why did he not years earlier out-and-out repudiate the group’s leader, former state Rep. David Duke, who years before had been exposed publicly as an unreformed racist? Indeed, Scalise once said he shared Duke’s philosophies on many issues, but made no explicit publicly reported disavowal of Duke’s issue preferences on race.

The idea here is that politicians who do not inoculate themselves against such toxicity by confessions of correct belief about controversial issues or politicians early and often forfeit a presumption of innocence. Unless, of course, you are a Democrat, especially of the liberal kind.

While many examples of the double standard suffice, going straight to the top illuminates this the best. Just having been elected a Democrat state senator, in 1995 now Pres. Barack Obama joined anti-Semite and general bigot Rev. Louis Farrakhan in his march in Washington, DC. Reportedly he was planned it with Farrakhan, who then was influential in the black community in Chicago politics, and his pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an ally of Farrakhan’s, and Rev. Al Sharpton, who since has visited Obama in the White House dozens of times. Until embarking on a presidential run, for over two decades Obama had sat in Wright’s pews, listening to innumerable anti-American and racially-charged sermons on a regular basis, apparently never having walked out of or offering a peep of criticism to that hate speech. Sharpton before and after has built a career about race-based accusations and on racial acrimony featured racist rhetoric.

Yet when his relationships with Farrakhan and Wright came under media scrutiny (Sharpton’s frequent visits they seem incurious about), Obama offered mild rebukes of both and the matter within the political left and its ally the mainstream media was considered settled, contrasted with Scalise’s tangential unknowing brush with racists where the media has yet to let go completely of it and sanctimonious elements of the left call for his political head. Understanding the self-image of the left explains why an obvious case of cavorting with racists gets excused, while an accidental and unintentional one cannot be and therefore draws condemnation.

That is, in regards to those who mouth the party line of liberalism, there always is a presumption of innocence. That’s because by definition those who parrot its tenets – regardless of how much today’s liberalism has descended into intellectual mishmash and its policies have been empirically discredited – are enlightened with good intentions and therefore their innocence cannot be doubted as to their beliefs and motives about these matters. On these same matters, by contrast they presume figures on the political right are eternally guilty – precisely because they fantasize that conservatives’ minds are not right because of some evil within they resist the one true faith – and therefore these politicians, candidates, and activists constantly and always must prove their innocence.

This is why that Scalise since did not go around every hour on the hour for the last 20 years proclaiming he was not a racist and disavowing Duke matters to these troglodytes and in their theology justifies their outrage, seeing this episode as confirming him as a political reprobate revealing his inner guilt for which he must be punished and, by extension, rendering any issue preference of his illegitimate. But thinking people recognize the selectivity involved in this criticism and thereby discount tremendously its value in having any significant or meaningful input to any discussions about Scalise’s career specifically or Republican politics generally.



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