By Steven Avila |Staff Writer|
Let’s be honest, we’ve all had our laughs at politicians’ expense but elected officials need to be held to a higher standard.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Marilyn Davenport of the Orange County GOP Central Committee forwarded e-mails containing images depicting Barack Obama and family members as apes.
While she has apologized, she seems adamant that she simply found it “amusing” and didn’t even “consider the fact he’s half black,” as quoted by the LA Times.
I asked around 25 random students and professors here at CSUSB, if they buy that. Guess what, none of them did.
“She should step down,” said student Annette Williams emphatically.
I’m inclined to agree with them. After all, this is a 74-year-old woman we’re talking about here.
It’s extremely difficult to think that she would be completely oblivious to the history of racist connections between Africans-Americans and apes.
More importantly, the LA Times also quoted her as saying she sent it to “people I didn’t think would be upset by it.”
Let’s recap. I’m willing, begrudgingly, to believe that she may have seen an image she thought was funny and, like a lot of people, hit the forward button faster than she could think.
But if that’s so true, why the need to filter who she sent it to? That statement alone leads me to believe she knew exactly what the connotations of the image were and how it would affect people.
The alternative is just as horrifying. If she truly was that naïve to racial history, should she really be allowed to serve in any authoritative position in the first place? Speaking as a CSUSB student, I would like to think that elected people of any kind should be a bit more knowledgeable than myself.
One of the most outrageous aspects of this issue is that she was quoted, again by the LA Times, as saying “Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black.”
Why is it when someone wants to get out of consequences for racial commentary, they go for the “I have friends who are ‘insert ethnicity here.’”
Having black, white, Hispanic, Asian or any other type of friends doesn’t mean you’re incapable of saying or expressing offensive and ignorant things.
It’s true that plenty of things have been said about former President George Bush, as well as President Clinton, and on and on, all the way back to Washington. We are all guilty at some point of criticizing or even making fun our elected officials.
But the fact is when you’re in a position of power, however minimal it may be compared to D.C., you need to hold yourself and be held to a greater criterion than the average Joe; or the average CSU student for instance.
Were we all huge fans of George Bush? Of course not. But you can and should be able to attack the man’s policies without attacking the man, especially when you’re a representative of a political party, as Davenport is.
“In what way does it add to communication,” CSUSB English professor Glen Hirshberg asked. “It’s stupid at best.”
Obama isn’t perfect; and I don’t think he’s done as good a job as he made us all hope he would, but there’s no need to start hitting below the belt.
Bottom line: Marilyn Davenport should resign from her post as an example that this kind of thing is simply not okay. Maybe if she does it will get through to people that we can indeed keep tastelessness out of politics.