Talk to folks who ply their trade in Louisiana politics and you’ll hear two competing perceptions on whether John Bel Edwards is trying to position himself to move up to Washington – on the way, perhaps, to somewhere else, like Rome – as an appointee of the Biden administration. What’s going on with Rep. Ray Garofalo, as the Left in this state tries to cancel him, perhaps clarifies the situation.
If you’re Edwards and you want out of Louisiana, or even if you’re going to try to position yourself as a candidate against John Kennedy for the Senate in next year’s election, you’ve got to hew to the national Democrat line as often as you can so as to make yourself marketable to the Democrat National Committee. You’ve already managed to fleece the voters of the state twice with an absurd posture that you’re really a conservative Democrat; Louisiana’s state budget is now $36 billion with no measurable increase in the quality of services offered to its people from when it was $25 billion, and Edwards has done nothing to push any policy in a conservative direction on any issue since he’s been governor. Even on the pro-life issue he’s been a fraud.
And we already know he’s taking the national Democrat position every time current events put him to a choice on an issue. For example, there was then-President Trump’s tweets taking on Rep. Ilhan Omar for her anti-Americanism, which put Edwards on the spot; he backed Omar, in something Eddie Rispone should have been able to exploit in the 2019 election but didn’t. And then there was Edwards’ recent declaration in favor of biological males invading girls’ sports, and in favor of sex changes for kids, at the beginning of this legislative session. He said he was taking up for “emotionally fragile” people, apparently disregarding the fact that some of these folks are so fragile that there’s a more than 40 percent attempted suicide rate among post-operation transsexuals.
And now, amid the idiotic attempts to cancel Rep. Ray Garofalo for bringing HB 564, a bill which would limit the teaching of the pernicious, anti-American Critical Race Theory in Louisiana’s government schools, we see it again.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he supports Black lawmakers’ push to oust House Education Chairman Ray Garofalo, who referenced the “good” parts of slavery in debate over his bill to prohibit teaching of “divisive concepts” about racism and sexism.
“I believe that the incident is egregious enough to warrant his removal, but I’m also the first to tell you I’m not the one who makes that decision,” the Democratic governor said.
Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said he hadn’t determined whether to keep or remove Garofalo, a St. Bernard Parish Republican, from the chairmanship in a controversy that has consumed the House for days.
“We’re all talking and trying to work it out,” said Schexnayder, who won his leadership position with support from Black lawmakers.
The Legislative Black Caucus objected not only to Garofalo’s slavery comments — but also to the broader legislation and Garofalo’s decision to hold a debate on the proposal. The Black Caucus said the bill includes “insensitive and racist elements.”
The measure, which remains stalled in committee, would prohibit the teaching that the United States or Louisiana is “systematically racist or sexist,” among its lengthy requirements about how to handle discussions of race and sex in the classroom. It would bar giving students or employees information that “teaches, advocates, acts upon or promotes divisive concepts.”
Garofalo has doubled down on his defense of the bill, saying in a letter Thursday to one critic that the aim of his legislation was to “provide a discrimination free learning environment that provides equal opportunity for all students, regardless of race or background.”
He said his comments — which were shared widely across social media for days — were taken out of context. He’s blamed the media for inflaming the conflict.
It’s incredibly rich that John Bel Edwards, who comes from a family of slave-owners, including slave traders, and bitter segregationists, would cast aspersions on anyone else where racism is concerned, particularly on Garofalo, who comes from Italian immigrants who not only didn’t own slaves but were treated only a degree or two above them when they arrived in the late 19th century (see Sal Perricone’s work here at the Hayride on the lynchings and other depredations inflicted on Italians in New Orleans).
And this business of Garofalo endorsing slavery is so stupid and ludicrous we really shouldn’t have to go through it again. Just watch the video, for crying out loud.
But seeing as though the national Democrat Party, which Edwards increasingly has decided to play step-‘n-fetch-it for, is fully invested in Critical Race Theory and other “woke” idiocies, the agenda trumps all. Teaching CRT in government schools is the plan, and anyone trying to stand in the way of it will be steamrolled.
The amazing part about all of this is the Republicans in the Louisiana House of Representatives, if perhaps not the leadership, are with Garofalo. We’ve talked to a whole lot of the members of the House GOP delegation and they’re not just supportive of him as chair of the Education Committee but they support the bill wholeheartedly. The delegation’s Policy Committee gave HB 564 a unanimous endorsement at the beginning of the session, and there’s talk of bringing it for a vote in front of the entire body for an endorsement in the next few days.
Which would be nice, and it would also be an opportunity for Schexnayder to finally become a legitimate Republican speaker of a Republican House.
The threat Rep. Ted James and the Legislative Black Caucus has made is the Black Caucus will bring up a vote to remove Schexnayder as House Speaker if Garofalo’s bill comes to the floor. There are enough disgruntled Republicans that there is a real possibility that vote could go badly for Schexnayder and throw the House into chaos without a speaker.
But because James would need some 17 Republicans for that project to bear fruit, the real power is in the GOP delegation. Schexnayder’s true play here is to back Garofalo and push his bill to a successful vote on the floor. He might even consider stripping a committee chairmanship or two out of the six the Black Caucus holds as a bit of chin music to show that he’s in charge and they can’t get rid of him.
That’s the kind of power play which would make lots of people rethink Schexnayder’s value.
Especially since Garofalo says he isn’t dropping the bill. Instead, he’s considering substituting its current language for that of either HB 5 in Florida, which passed unanimously (115-0) in the House and (40-0) Senate and mandates that a patriotic civics curriculum be taught in Sunshine State schools, or HB 377 in Idaho, which passed 57-12 in that state’s House and 27-8 in its Senate, and specifically identifies critical race theory as harmful to education and prohibits taxpayer money spent promoting it. If Garofalo does that, he’s really going to put the screws to Schexnayder for killing a bill that passes so overwhelmingly in another red state.
There are a number of ways this can go, and some of them aren’t bad. But giving in to the cancel mob would be ruinous for either Schexnayder or Garofalo at this point and if Schexnayder bounces Garofalo out of that chairmanship on Edwards’ recommendation no one will ever respect him again.
Nor should they.