On Thursday, Republican Congressman Aaron Shock (IL-18) accepted the resignation of his communications director, Benjamin Cole. Cole tendered his resignation, after past racist comments he made on social media resurfaced, causing Congressman Shock a great deal of embarrassment. One of the most offensive posts Cole made was a 2013 comment about an African-American woman who was speaking loudly outside his DC apartment. He recorded a video of the woman speaking and posted:
So apparently the closing of the National Zoo has forced the animals to conduct their mating rituals on my street. #gentrifytoday Pt 1
In another post, Cole referred to a black murder victim and the suspected assailant as “hood rats”. He also posted that he wanted to put “black criminals”, who lived and loitered on his street, behind bars.
Congressman Shock was quick to go into damage control mode, stating:
I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments made by a member of my staff. I would expect better from any member of my team. Upon learning about them I met with Mr. Cole and he offered his resignation which I have accepted.
Accepting Cole’s resignation was the right thing to do. In addition, Shock cannot be held directly responsible for every word said by his staffer on a personal social media page. Nevertheless, it seems that the Republican Party’s worldview attracts staffers who communicate their racism, with little awareness that broadcasting bigotry on social media is not a career enhancing decision.
In late 2014, Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN) had to part ways with Elizabeth Lauten, after she accused Barack Obama’s daughters of dressing slutty, at the annual White House turkey pardon spectacle. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker once employed staffers who circulated a series of racially offensive emails, which included punch lines like:
I can handle being a black, disabled, one armed, drug-addicted, Jewish homosexual on a pacemaker who is HIV positive, bald, orphaned, unemployed, lives in a slum, and has a Mexican boyfriend, but please, Oh dear God, please don’t tell me I’m a Democrat.
Another e-mail that his staff circulated, while he was Milwaukee County’s Chief Executive, joked about providing welfare for dogs, remarking that the recipients would be:
mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who the r [sic] Daddys [sic] are.
While Republican office holders are sometimes quick to pull the plug, and distance themselves from the racist remarks of their staffers, at some point the question has to be asked. With a vast pool of talent in the country looking for work, how is it that Republican politicians seem to end up settling on racists to fill some of their key staff positions? Is it just coincidence? Or is there something about Republican ideology that attracts ambitious young bigots, who can’t seem to help themselves from making racially insensitive remarks that they feel they must share with the rest of the world?
Image: Roll Call
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.