By Lynn R. Mitchell
Republican Party of Virginia leaders Mike Thomas, State Central Committee (SCC) first vice chairman, and Carole de Triquet, SCC member, have taken the lead in calling on the party’s ruling body to rebuke racist statements made by a conservative blogger.
Jeanine Martin at the Bull Elephant blog made the comments in a post and follow-up comments (for background see Jeanine Martin doesn’t think immigrants ‘Hmong’ here — updated with responses and more hate). Martin is also a member of the Loudoun GOP and has carried a proxy to SCC meetings.
Martin’s comments caused an outcry among party members who have worked to engage minority voters, not just at the polls, but also as candidates throughout the state.
Here is the letter sent to RPV Chairman John Whitbeck and State Central Committee by Thomas and de Triquet:
August 11, 2015
Dear Fellow Members of the State Central Committee:
Our Republican Creed says, in part, that we believe:
“That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society.”
Over the last few weeks, and perhaps few months and years, we have seen what happens when those who purport to carry our principles misuse and abuse our soapbox for limited and narrow political gain.
Many of us are very committed to making the Republican Party of Virginia welcoming of every Virginian who shares our principles, in turn strengthening our ability to share our message in every community. But, there is a danger that this fundamental principle in our Party Creed could become just empty words read at meetings, if we do not speak out when Republicans in visible roles undermine our Party through their use of derogatory terms or innuendo.
Over the last few days, a Republican blogger — one who has previously carried a proxy to a RPV State Central Committee meeting and is a primary contributor for a Republican blog used by a faction of the Party to espouse their viewpoints — used a word that is often invoked as a slur to describe individuals who came to this country as refugees fleeing from Communist dictatorships in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, asking “do we really need hundreds of thousands of Hmongs in this country?” and declaring that “people are sick to death of illegals and many of the legals.”
The Hmong people were (and remain) anti-communist freedom fighters. The author implied that even their legal immigration to the United States in the wake of the Vietnam War was not acceptable, because “Not all cultures are equal…”
As Republicans, we often wonder why our conservative message struggles to be heard among minority and ethnic populations. When statements such as these come from leaders within any part of the Republican Party, leaders who set the tone for who we are and what we believe as Republicans, they render outreach nearly impossible.
The author is entitled to her opinion on the issue, offensive as it may be. However, the author by her own description is an active member of her local Republican Committee and is one of the more visible and vocal Republican writers online — not to mention serving as a State Central proxy.
Unfortunately, this is far from the only example of what seems to be a message of ‘not everyone is welcome here.’ How is anyone going to feel welcome in the Republican Party if we don’t stand up now and say this is not representative of the Republican Party? We must disassociate ourselves with this blogger’s derogatory comment, and we must stop giving a voice to those who won’t respectfully and civilly discuss issues with those with whom they disagree.
What are we asking of you?
First, join us by publicly denouncing this blogger’s comment as not representing the Republican Party of Virginia and emphasizing that we do, indeed, welcome everyone who is in accord with the principles of our Party.
Second, join us is agreeing that we will not give voice to those who insist on using pejoratives, slurs and personal attacks on others, whether by membership or proxy.
Third, and most importantly, join us in pledging to more actively work to make our Party attractive and welcoming to all Virginians. Not just because it will help us succeed politically, though it will. We need to do it because it is the right thing to do.
The RPV Creed has suffered through a great number of misinterpretations as of late. One that must not be suffered — whether at the national or state level — is an interpretation that demeans and marginalizes others. The Republican Party of Virginia still stands for the principles of Reagan, and a firm belief that all individuals are entitled to equal rights in a free society, not just a few special rights based on their background, ethnicity, or place of birth.
We look forward to hearing from you and to working with you, our Chairman, and RPV leadership to build a strong, principled and more diverse Republican Party of Virginia.
Carole de Triquet
It’s hard to believe there is still this thread of thought among some in 2015, an embarrassment when we blog and work beside friends of all nationalities. Kudos to Mike and Carole for taking the lead on this issue.
Update: Shaun Kenney has posted about this at Bearing Drift (see RPV Vice Chairman Mike Thomas issues letter regarding nativist sentiment; reinforces RPV Creed).