The Washington Post

Republicans Gone Wild In Bill Clinton’s Arkansas

Arkansas is a state where Republicans could have their own television show called “GOP Gone Wild.”

It recently came to light that Jon Hubbard, a Republican legislator, wrote in a self-published 2009 book, “Letters To The Editor: Confessions Of A Frustrated Conservative,” that slavery was “a blessing in disguise” for blacks. Another GOP legislative candidate, Charles Fuqua, wrote in an e-book he recently published that rebellious children should be executed and that all Muslims should be expelled from the United States.

Yet another legislator, Loy Mauch – yes, a Republican – has a history of writing letters to the statewide newspaper in support of slavery. “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?” Mauch wrote three years ago.

Instead of shutting up and hiding under the covers, Hubbard wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in Thursday’s Jonesboro Sun. He said, “Does all this political propaganda being put out by Gov. Mike Beebe, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and others remind you, even a little bit, of how Hitler took control of the minds of the German people in the 1930s?”

So now we have Nazis in the mix, too.

Embarrassing? Just a tad, especially when friends from around the country and world e-mail asking what’s up with the racism in my home state.

“It’s pretty embarrassing, it’s pretty sad,” Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, said this week. “But, you know, you can’t blame a whole state for activities or comments from a few because there’s been a lot of comments by Republicans and Democrats that we wish had never been made and that embarrass us all or detract from how we’re viewed by other folks.”

Indeed, not all Arkansas Republicans say such things or support those who do. Doyle Webb, chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, and members of the GOP congressional delegation distanced themselves from the statements. The RPA pulled funding from the candidates this week. But the county parties continue their support for them.

It’s not the first time such racist remarks have occurred to taint the state’s Republicans. In June, I wrote about a joke that was delivered in black dialect, about lazy black welfare recipients at a tea party rally in northern Arkansas, to a laughing crowd.

Hubbard tried to twist his words into something better on Tuesday. But it didn’t work. He told a local newspaper, “But I think the end result – that [African Americans] did get to live in America, although the means for getting here were terrible – I think the end result was better than it would have been if they had to live in Africa themselves.”

One supporter wrote on a website, “Have any of you actually looked at the book that Rep. Hubbard wrote? He is not advocating or condoning the practice of slavery in our history, but rather looking at it as a ‘glass half full’ situation. Shame on the LIBERAL media for taking this man’s writings out of context!! Isn’t it funny how people forget that it was the Democrats who fought like hell to keep slavery and the Republicans who freed them?”

There are some Arkansans who actually “like” these three politicians on Facebook. Mauch receives comments on his page such as “Go Loy Go!!! You’ve got my vote again this time around. You are a True Statesman and stand for what is right and Constitutional.” Hubbard, too, has his supporters.

Less popular is Fuqua, but I believe that’s only because of what he says about executing children rather than what he says about Muslims.

Arkansas Republicans could take control of both chambers of the legislature this November for the first time since Reconstruction. Unlike other Southern states, Arkansas has trended toward the red sea with federal seats for several election cycles, but state and local seats have remained blue in spite of President Obama losing the state in 2008 by 20 percentage points.

But Arkansas is on another historic path, too. Arkansas has never elected an African American to the House, Senate or governorship. But in January, Darrin Williams, a Democrat, could become the first black speaker of the state House of Representatives. That is, if Democrats maintain control of it.

Suzi Parker, a sixth-generation Arkansan, is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter @SuziParker.

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