The Republican Party and some of its acolytes on the right have a really big problem. I mean, we know what it is. They are out of step with the country, both with its people and the issues they care about. The GOP will continue to have horrible weeks like the one they had last week as long as last century’s bigoted attitudes flow with the ease of water from a hose. And as bad as that is, the apologies after such offenses only make matters worse.
The Post’s Aaron Blake and Juliet Eilperin got to the heart of the GOP’s attitude problem when they wrote about “Don Young and the GOP’s Archie Bunker problem.” Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), 79, used a racial slur (“wet backs,” to be specific) to describe the Hispanic migrant workers his father hired to pick tomatoes on their California ranch when he was a kid. I would add Dr. Ben Carson to the mix. The Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon and new GOP darling waxed offensive on Fox News last week when he linked gays to the pedophiles of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and “people who believe in bestiality.”
Sean Hannity: All right, last question, we have the issue of the Supreme Court dealing with two issues involving gay marriage. I’ve asked you a lot of questions. I’ve never asked you that, what are your thoughts?
Carson: Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition. So he, it’s not something that is against gays, it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications.
NAMBLA? Wet backs? Add Wayne LaPierre’s nostalgic reference to the 1994 movie “Natural Born Killers” to pushback against warranted criticism of the National Rifle Association in the wake of the 2012 slaughter at Newtown, Conn., and you have a vocal segment of the right that is stuck in time. While LaPierre refuses to apologize for anything, Young and Carson tried their best to do so — and botched it big time by digging their holes deeper.
Young’s first “apology” screamed of ignorance. “I used a term that was commonly used during my days growing up on a farm in Central California,” he said in a statement late Thursday. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays, and I meant no disrespect.”
So on Friday, after getting publicly pummeled by Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, Young issued a second statement. After apologizing for using “the insensitive term,” he said, “There was no malice in my heart or intent to offend; it was a poor choice of words. That word, and the negative attitudes that come with it, should be left in the 20th century, and I’m sorry that this has shifted our focus away from comprehensive immigration reform.”
Meanwhile, Carson slipped out of his Fox News cocoon to submit to tough questioning on Friday by NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell on her eponymous MSNBC program. It didn’t go well. Carson’s apology devolved into pablum in an instant.
If anyone was offended I apologize to you. What I was basically saying is there is no group. I wasn’t equating those things. I don’t think they’re equal. If you ask me for an apple and I give you an orange you would say, ‘Well, that’s not an orange.’ And then I say, ‘That’s a banana.’ And that’s not an apple either. And there’s a peach, that’s not an apple, either. But it doesn’t mean that I’m equating the banana and the orange and the peach in the same way. I’m not equating those things. My point was that once we start changing the definitions then where do we stop? You know we can go with anything.
Apples, bananas, peaches and nonsense from the man the Wall Street Journal wants to run for president.
The Republican Party has problems. Problems with its policies. Problems with its tone. Problems with its attitude. And Carson and Young are two examples of how out of touch the GOP is with a country that has moved well beyond the casual acceptance of bigotry.
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