On Giving Speeches to White Supremacists
I’m inclined to forgive Steve Scalise for giving a speech to what turned out to have been a white supremacist group. His spoke, after all, about federal grant programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, not about how much he hated black people.
On the other hand, I do have my own memories, and they shape how I view this news. When I was young, my family often went to our local Hindu temple, which was going through a lot of expansion at the time. With each major project, all the local politicians were unfailingly invited. Though these celebrations weren’t wholly religious, they weren’t wholly secular either, so I could understand someone’s reluctance about attending. Refusing a single invitation serves as very weak evidence of bigotry or small-mindedness.
Still, the mind inevitably draws conclusions, even with insufficient evidence. At some point, I discovered that the invited Democratic politicians always attended, and the invited Republican politicians never attended. I don’t know why this was. It’s possible there were Indian Democratic donors but no Indian Republican donors. Another caveat is that this pattern reflected the decisions of only a handful of men, none of them Steve Scalise.
Still, I can’t help but wonder whether the politicians who declined their invitations thought they didn’t want to be caught someday having to explain why they attended a weird religious ceremony that their supporters might consider threatening. Why take the risk?
Consider, in contrast, Steve Scalise, who in 2002 was asked to talk to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. This name does not require much decoding to figure out their likely views regarding non-European Americans.
I am understanding that our temple may have triggered the spidey senses of certain politicians. I am a tad indignant, however, that the European-American Unity and Rights Organization did not provoke the same response.
Again, I do forgive Scales for his decision, but don’t think I don’t notice that he was willing to give that group the benefit of the doubt while members of his party seemed not to extend the same goodwill to us.