Gov. Mary Fallin and other GOP leaders should push for the resignation of fellow Republican state Rep. Sally Kern following the legislator’s obviously racist and sexist comments Wednesday on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Here’s how Kern’s comments were reported:
“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”
“ . . . women usually don't want to work as hard as a man... women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be at home more time, wanting to have a little more leisure time."
In other words, under Kern’s framework, African Americans are lazy and women, well, they can’t compete with men because of their desire for “leisure time.” Ironically, Kern’s position actually argues she should resign her own position so a white man can take over and do the job right.
Kern made the comments as she argued in favor of a bill, eventually passed by the House, that will send a ballot measure to the Oklahoma voters asking them to end affirmative action.
Kern, of Oklahoma City, later apologized for her remarks, as reported by the media:
"I want to humbly apologize for my statements last night about African Americans and women. I believe that our government should not provide preference based on race or gender. I misspoke while trying to convey this point last night during debate.
"Women are some of the hardest workers in the world. My husband is a pastor of a diverse, inner-city church and the way that my words came out last night is certainly not my true spirit."
But this isn’t an apology at all. Note how political it is: “I believe that our government should not provide preference based on race or gender.” She had to get that in there, didn’t she? Note, as well, Kern simply says she “misspoke.” What does that mean? Her initial comments were quite specific. She also refers to “the way that my words came out . . .”. Do her words just have a mind of their own? They just come out of her mouth and aren’t connected to her brain or her belief system? Is she trying to say that what she really meant is just the opposite of what she said? That’s preposterous. A real apology would admit that she’s held racist and sexist views. Her resignation would prove she’s truly apologetic and plans to change her views.
This type of archaic racism and sexism, which is an embarrassment to Oklahoma, should not be tolerated. The state’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has asked Kern to resign, and other groups, politicians, the corporate power structure and political activists should do so, too. At the very least, Kern should be reprimanded by the Oklahoma House leadership. There’s probably no doubt that a majority of state voters, with their hatred of the nation’s first African-American president, will vote to end affirmative action, but that’s no excuse for Kern’s comments.
I wonder what the players and owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the local NBA franchise, think about Kern’s comments? They should speak up, too. Probably the most effective protest against Kern would be to picket the next Thunder home game asking the organization to speak up against Kern’s racist and sexist views if it fails to act before then.
Fallin’s response to the issue so far has been extremely weak. Through a spokesperson, Fallin said she "disagreed with Kern's initial comments and is glad she apologized for her remarks."
Kern, of course, is infamous for her 2008 comments that argued the “homosexual agenda” is worse than terrorism. Her husband, Steve, a local Baptist minister, has been pushing to allow the teaching of creationist-backed ideas in the state’s science classrooms. Sally Kern is a former teacher. Did she argue for her racism views in the classroom?
The larger point is that Oklahoma is undoubtedly filled with people who share the couple’s views. That’s a shame, but it’s the reality. What can help is education and more, not less, diversity in our state’s institutions and businesses. How can that happen when racist and sexist remarks by an Oklahoma leader are essentially condoned or shrugged off by the prevailing political party and the state’s governor?
Here’s how Kern’s remarks were reported by Talking Points Memo. TPM shows the full context of Kern’s remarks, but it doesn’t make a real difference.
(On a personal note that is somewhat related to this issue, I recently posted a piece in which I argued I thought Fallin would govern as a center-right leader. I was wrong. Fallin’s actions this legislative session, including her rejection of federal funds to create a health exchange and her non-response to Kern, show she’s just another pawn of the radical right.)
In a statement on her website arguing that her election campaign should be about “policy issues,’ state Rep. Sally Kern, the infamous anti-gay, religious extremist, said this about her opponent, Brittany Novotny:
Yes, my opponent is the first transgender to run for office in Oklahoma, something my opponent freely admits, and many do not understand why someone would have a sex change.
So that’s a policy issue, that “many do not understand why someone would have a sex change”?
The point here is that the recent comments about Novotny by Kern, pictured right, and one of her supporters, Charlie Meadows, are politically calculated to call attention to the candidate’s gender change in a negative way. Undoubtedly, they hope this information will help Kern in the election. Let’s hope it backfires.
Kern’s statement was in response to a recent email sent out by Meadows, chairman of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee. Meadows wrote this about Novotny:
Brittany used to be a "he", had a sex change operation to make him into a "her" but turned out to become a confused "it."
Meadows comments are bigoted, ugly and hateful. The use of the word “it” is especially repugnant, and Meadows’ fellow conservatives should disavow this type of hate mongering as a campaign tool. Meadows is simply trying to dehumanize Novotny, an energetic local attorney, who is challenging Kern for her House District 84 seat in Oklahoma City.
Kern, as we all know, became a national spectacle when she was recorded in 2008 arguing that gay people were a greater threat to this country than terrorists. Her paranoid rant also included the argument that societies which accept homosexuality last no more than a “few decades.”
Kern is an ideologue that pushes a specific, religious-based political agenda. She continues to hurt the state’s national image. Novotny, by any measure, is the best candidate for the House seat. These recent personal attacks by Kern and Meadows simply prove it further.
State Rep. Sally Kern, the infamous politician who once compared homosexuality to terrorism, is once again trying to press her worldview on Oklahomans.
This time, the Oklahoma City Republican, pictured right, is proposing legislation that could make it more difficult for many people here to get a divorce. House Bill 2279, if signed into law, would allow only certain Oklahomans to get a divorce based on incompatibility.
Here’s the key section of the bill:
Provided, however, that the court shall not grant a divorce on the ground of incompatibility if:
1. There are living minor children of the marriage;
2. The parties have been married ten (10) years or longer; or
3. Either party files a written objection to the granting of a divorce.
In other words, if the bill passes many people could have to stay in a marriage legally even if they didn’t want to. This could lead to protracted legal fights and more conflict between two people, who simply want to amicably end their marriage. It would also allow one person in the marriage to essentially hold their spouse hostage. Ending no-fault divorce would increase marriage problems, not solve them.
(Read TheOkie’s take on the issue on Blue Oklahoma.)
State Rep. Al McAffrey, an Oklahoma City Democrat, spoke out against Kern’s bill. In a prepared statement, McAffrey said, "As a leader of the Oklahoma Republican party, Sally Kern will stop at nothing in her misguided effort to embarrass our great state. Rep. Kern's bill limits Oklahomans' rights and restricts freedom to an entirely new level."
Frankly, I don't know when Rep. Kern finds the time to dream up this bizarre legislation. Our state is facing a budget crisis and several other significant challenges. Given the state of our economy, we need steady leaders in the legislature that are ready to create serious solutions, not political side shows."
Kern’s bill undoubtedly reflects her worldview. In the past, she has also tried to pass legislation that would allow more religious activities in the state’s public schools. She was also the author of the Oklahoma Citizens Proclamation for Morality, which drew media attention. Here’s the last part of the proclamation:
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we the undersigned elected officials of the people of Oklahoma, religious leaders and citizens of the State of Oklahoma, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world, solemnly declare that the HOPE of the great State of Oklahoma and of these United States, rests upon the Principles of Religion and Morality as put forth in the HOLY BIBLE; and
BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, believers in the One True God and His only Son, call upon all to join with us in recognizing that "Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord," and humbly implore all who love Truth and Virtue to live above reproach in the sight of God and man with a firm reliance on the leadership and protection of Almighty God; and
BE IT RESOLVED that we, the undersigned, humbly call upon Holy God, our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, to have mercy on this nation, to stay His hand of judgment, and grant a national awakening of righteousness and Christian renewal as we repent of our great sin.
Kern’s divorce bill is obviously a part of her continuing agenda to enforce her own ideology on the rest of us. Legislators should kill the bill in committee or vote against it if it makes it to the floor. If it passes, Gov. Brad Henry should not hesitate to veto it.