The Other McCain

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Nikki Haley Update: Jake Knotts and the ‘Raghead’ Heard Round the World

Posted on | June 4, 2010 | 69 Comments

“We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.”
South Carolina state Sen. Jake Knotts

Well, it’s come to this, has it? Certainly, I’m the last person on the planet to be screaming “raaaaacist” at other people, but it’s shocking enough that a Republican would use such language to describe President Obama. For a Republican to use it against a fellow Republican — Nikki Haley is a Christian of Sikh ancestry — is so wrong as to defy comprehension.

Knotts’ eruption on Pub Politics (a South Carolina video podcast) came to my attention via two Tweets from Sorenkay, who watched the show live:


The producer of the podcast evidently deleted the video of Knotts’ remark, but not before it was seen by so many people that John O’Connor of the Columbia (S.C.) State had enough for a news story:

According to those present and watching the show, “Pub Politics,” Knotts also talked at length about Haley’s parents’ religion and her family. Haley was raised as a Sikh, but converted to Methodist and has said she attends both services. . . .
Haley’s religion was raised as an issue during her first S.C. House run in 2004, when anonymous fliers claimed — inaccurately — that she was a Hindu. Haley won the race, unseating the House’s longest-serving lawmaker.

Knotts has apologized and I don’t see any point in demonizing him, but I’m honestly shocked that any politician would go there. It’s unfathomably ignorant. Sikhs are not Muslim and they’re not Hindu. (And exactly how is the fact that Haley comes from a Sikh family relevant to Obama’s Kenyan ancestry?)

Just as I am not down with the Anti-Racist Mind-Probe Watchdogs, neither am I a Politeness Police Courtesy Cop. A remark may be rude or shocking without constituting a human-rights violation.

One of the first controversies I ever became involved in as a blogger was when Ann Coulter used “raghead” in her 2006 CPAC speech. At a time when even Ace of Spades (!) signed a petition condemning her, I defended Coulter because (a) I love Coulter, and (b) the person to whom she applied that term was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for whom no slur is sufficiently derogatory.

My argument then was that no generalized prejudice could be inferred from Coulter’s use of the term specifically directed at Ahmadinejad,  a Jew-hating genocidal maniac who deserves a Hellfire missile where the sun don’t shine. (In her own defense, Coulter said: “You know, OK. I make a few jokes at Muslims, and they killed 3,000 Americans — I think we’re even.”)

Which is to say that, while I don’t recommend use of “raghead” in political discourse, neither do I think it is always necessarily grounds for expulsion from polite society. Context matters. But I’m having a hard time imagining a contextual defense of Knotts’ remark. The South Carolina GOP chairwoman has denounced Knotts’ comment:

State Republican Party Chairwoman Karen Floyd called on Knotts to apologize “so that we can put this unfortunate incident behind us.”
“The South Carolina Republican Party strongly condemns any use of racial or religious slurs,” Floyd said in an e-mail statement Thursday night.

It would have been nice if Floyd also condemned the sexual smear campaign against Haley. It’s clear Haley’s opponents have so dehumanized her in their own minds that they no longer recognize any boundaries between fair tactics and foul.

STAND UP FOR NIKKI HALEY!

UPDATE: Allahpundit:

The good news, I guess, is that there’s not much further to go until rock bottom.

Dude. It’s South Carolina. You got no idea how low rock-bottom might actually be. Daniel Foster at the Corner:

[I]f this is the senator doing an “unintended slur” I’d hate to hear what he sounds like when he’s really trying to offend somebody.

More blogging at Red Dog Report, Palmetto State Politics, and at Red State, where Erick Erickson says:

Were Nikki Haley as sleazy as Andre Bauer, I bet we’d start seeing all the salacious Andre Bauer rumors percolating again.

How terrible if such salacious rumors were to begin percolating! Why, Andre Bauer is no more gay than Larry Marchant!

UPDATE II: Ace of Spades has strenuously resisted the temptation to jump aboard the Haley bandwagon, torturing himself with “did-she-or-didn’t-she” analysis. But the latest attacks finally pushed him over the edge:

That’s it — I wholeheartedly endorse Nikki Haley, if only because it will make monsters cry.

Exactly. Maybe Nikki Haley actually is an Insatiable Punjabi She-Devil, or maybe not. I just don’t care anymore. She needs to win this election if only because her enemies so richly deserve defeat.

UPDATE III: “I’m Nimrata Randhawa Haley, and I approved this message.”

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Comments

  • http://ak4mc.us/cms/ ak4mc

    Another reason to support Haley.

    YGTR.*

    (*”You got that right.” If it isn’t an internet acronym, it oughta be.)

  • hrh

    And Huck’s continuing to stand by his man. Was in the state in the last few days, I believe.

    Isn’t this kinda’ sorta’ the way he treated Romney’s Mormonism.

    I think SC is Huck’s Last Stand. If he doesn’t get his man in SC, then he may lose the South, and his shot at the Presidency …

  • hrh

    And Huck’s continuing to stand by his man. Was in the state in the last few days, I believe.

    Isn’t this kinda’ sorta’ the way he treated Romney’s Mormonism.

    I think SC is Huck’s Last Stand. If he doesn’t get his man in SC, then he may lose the South, and his shot at the Presidency …

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  • http://www.youtube.com Helen

    that fat Jake apparently does not know the difference between Indians and Arabs if he called her a raghead.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dj__myC7h8

    what a dumbass 1

  • http://www.youtube.com Helen

    that fat Jake apparently does not know the difference between Indians and Arabs if he called her a raghead.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dj__myC7h8

    what a dumbass 1

  • http://wetcasements.wordpress.com Jaim

    Racist slurs are never OK, Republicans. And they won’t help you win elections.

    Little bit of friendly advice from a liberal who enjoys the spectacle of you bigots perpetually wallowing in your own filthy ignorance.

  • http://wetcasements.wordpress.com Jaim

    Racist slurs are never OK, Republicans. And they won’t help you win elections.

    Little bit of friendly advice from a liberal who enjoys the spectacle of you bigots perpetually wallowing in your own filthy ignorance.

  • http://wetcasements.wordpress.com Jaim

    And Iranians aren’t Arabs.

  • http://wetcasements.wordpress.com Jaim

    And Iranians aren’t Arabs.

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  • Another Liberal

    Jaim, YGTR.

  • Another Liberal

    Jaim, YGTR.

  • Sam

    To “love Ann Coulter” and defend her use of the term “raghead” because she used it in conjunction with M. I’madinnerjacket, doesn’t lessen the fact that it is a term used to denigrate an ethnic group. There is no good time to use an ethnic slur, it’s all bad. Just don’t do it and you’ll never have to issue an apology. As for Jake Knotts, looks and sounds like Limbaugh has an identical twin. Scary!

  • Sam

    To “love Ann Coulter” and defend her use of the term “raghead” because she used it in conjunction with M. I’madinnerjacket, doesn’t lessen the fact that it is a term used to denigrate an ethnic group. There is no good time to use an ethnic slur, it’s all bad. Just don’t do it and you’ll never have to issue an apology. As for Jake Knotts, looks and sounds like Limbaugh has an identical twin. Scary!

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