The Kansas Health Institute is attempting to paint Republicans with the racist brush today. In a horribly unfair story, Republicans were asked to explain their Facebook friendship with a complete alt-right moron named Gabriel Wilson.
Wilson wrote disturbing white nationalist messages and body outlines in chalk on Bethany College campus sidewalks in September. The school's president, who has adopted biracial children, reported that his family had also received racially-charged threats. A police report was filed. Wilson was named as a suspect in the report.
Enter a reporter for the Kansas Health Institute to determine just how politically active crazy Wilson is. The reporter makes some massive leaps in his attempts to trash the Kansas Republican Party, and his efforts are wrong, biased, and inappropriate for so many reasons.
First, the reporter's link between Republicans is based on Facebook friendship. I don't know about you, but on my personal page I have 1,017 Facebook friends. For a very long time, I limited Facebook friendships to people I'd actually met in person, but I eventually gave that up. Now I pretty much accept any friendship request from anyone who doesn't appear to be an Internet troll. If I have a mutual friend with a person who sends me a FB message, I hit the accept button. My acceptance of their friendship isn't an endorsement of their views. Otherwise, I'd have to ditch half of my liberal Facebook friends.
If people I don't know start posting offensive stuff--and don't get me wrong, I find that Wilson guy completely offensive--I unfriend them. But I don't see every post that every person makes, and most people probably don't see every post made by that person they met one time walking in a parade.
I balk completely at the reporter's assessment that somehow every Republican Facebook friend of the guy knew of Wilson's racist views. I just don't buy it for one single minute and neither should you.
Second, I would be very interested in knowing how the reporter suggests the Republican can create a Republican Party purity test before allowing anyone to call themselves a Republican. Seriously, this would be helpful to know. I'd like to refuse membership to all white nationalists and also to all people who pretend to be Republicans just so they can get elected. I don't know how Republicans can stop people from pretending to be something they aren't. The Dems can't do this either. I seem to recall an elected Kansas Democrat who was arrested for child pornography. Jason Croucher was a Kansas Democrat whose star was on the rise. He was an elected official and he did paid work for many Dem office holders in addition to running a liberal blog. He's serving 17.5 years for bondage child pornography. It's funny in looking up all of the old stories about Croucher how no members of the political reporting class could be bothered to track down Croucher's political friends and paint the Dems with the same brush as that sick crackpot.
Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of the entire story is that it was written and published by the Kansas Health Institute. KHI's stated mission is to improve the health of Kansans by supporting effective policymaking. While they admit they use a broad approach in their efforts, tracking down the people who met Wilson one time at a parade seems incredibly broad.
I recognize a "gotcha" story when I see one. This sordid tale about how one whack job in Kansas had seven racist friends--and apparently a classless girlfriend-- and managed to wrangle his way into meeting political folks is a crass attempt to make conservatives look like racists. As a biracial, conservative person (and as a human in general) the attempt is vile and unfair. When Republicans (or Dems) are racist, they should be called out on it. But to make unfair assumptions about an entire political apparatus based on one nutso does serious damage to political discourse. We should be better than this.
If you want to have an honest discussion about race and politics, let's do it. (Or not. I'm so sick of it.) But if we must, why don't we start with the regular folks and leave the crackpots out of it.