Old and busted: Some Democrats are latent racists. New hotness: Some Democrats are latent sexists. And one of them is apparently both. At the very least, the outgoing chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party has proven that he never learned the First Rule of Holes. After having to retreat from his earlier statement that the state should “send [Governor Nikki Haley] back to wherever the hell she came from,” Harpootlian tried to readjust the message this morning on MSNBC:
Former South Carolina Democratic party chairman Dick Harpootlian today attempted to clarify remarks he made Friday at the party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner when he assured the audience that the Democratic challenger to GOP governor Nikki Haley would “send her back to wherever the hell she came from.”
Many understood Harpootlian’s barb to be directed at Haley’s ethnicity — she is the Indian-American daughter of Sikh immigrants. The longtime Democratic activist immediately waved off such criticism, and today told MSNBC, “All I’m suggesting is she needs to go back to being an accountant in a dress store rather than being this fraud of a governor that we have.”
Let’s read what Peter Beinart wrote yesterday for the Daily Beast and apply the filter of sexism rather than racism:
If Dick Harpootlian were a Republican, liberals would be jumping over one another to call him a bigot. In 2002 Harpootlian called Lindsey Graham, then running for a South Carolina Senate seat, “light in the loafers,” thus fueling a nasty whispering campaign about Graham’s sexual orientation. Last Friday he struck again, tellingactivists to “send Nikki Haley”—South Carolina’s Indian-American governor—“back to wherever the hell she came from.”
But Harpootlian isn’t a Republican. Until he retired last Saturday, he was chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He made his comments about Haley at the party’s annual dinner, just before Joe Biden took the stage. And as a result, the liberal response has been muted. So far, neither Biden nor Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, whose candidacy for a South Carolina congressional seat has gained national attention, has repudiated Harpootlian’s comments. And for now, at least, conservatives are just about the only ones asking them to.
That’s a problem, because unless offenses like Harpootlian’s are slapped down hard, Democratic Party bigotry is likely to get worse. The reason is simple: the Republican Party is getting more diverse. Stung by its disastrous electoral showings among Americans who are neither white, Anglo, straight, nor male, the GOP has finally begun to broaden its candidate base. The party now boasts an African-American senator from South Carolina, Cuban-American senators from Florida and Texas, Indian-American governors in South Carolina and Louisiana, and Mexican-American governors in Nevada and New Mexico. In all likelihood, 2016 will witness the first-ever serious minority candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. And it’s a good bet that either a minority or a woman will find a place on the Republican ticket.
The same applies here. If a Republican said on television that a female Democratic officeholder should go back to working at her parent’s dress shop, the national media would Akinize the Republican faster than you could say war on wimminses. And this matters for the same reason — more Republican women are running for office, and we can expect more snide remarks like this from Democratic leadership when they do, although it will probably take the form of diminishing the femininity of such candidates for espousing pro-life, pro-family policies.