In his television ad, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli attempts to reinvent himself as a progressive (i.e., he wants viewers to see him as someone who “stands up for the vulnerable,” who prioritizes the prevention of sexual assault, who volunteers at homeless shelters, etc.). This ad is clearly targeting the low-information voter (the very best kind for what the GOP has allowed itself to become), because everyone who knows what Mr. Cuccinelli has actually been up to in his time in public office finds it a hilarious farce.
But Virginia Republicans have just hung a millstone around his neck by nominating the florid lunatic E.W. Jackson for Lt. Governor.
Among the many gems surfacing about this guy is evidence that he is one of those deep thinkers who can’t quite grasp the concept of civil rights as it applies to people universally – you know, the rights guaranteed to every American under the 14th Amendment regardless of personal characteristics such as their race, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Jackson appears confused by the rather obvious fact that these various kinds of personal characteristics are different things: Gender is not the same thing as race, sexual orientation is not the same thing as religious affiliation, which is not the same thing as national origin…this is not a difficult idea for most people. However, Jackson seems unable to separate in his mind the fact that discrimination on the basis of these characteristics is an equivalent problem from the false idea that the characteristics themselves are equivalent. Hence he makes silly and ignorant statements like these:
The Democrat Party [sic] has equated homosexuality with being black, which is another outrageous lie.
Homosexuals have no history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynching or being legally defined as 2/3 of a person. I have known people who have been delivered from homosexuality. I have never known anyone to be delivered from being black.
They can keep their homosexuality private, but you and I cannot hide that we are black.
Jackson also claimed shortly before the 2012 election that he just knew there would be a massive rejection of President Obama by black voters because of his endorsement of marriage equality. In reality, over 90% of African Americans voted to reelect the president, and opinion polls in Maryland, which had a marriage equality initiative on the ballot, showed a significant increase in African American support for equal marriage rights. Meanwhile in Virginia, a new Washington Post poll reports that a “clear majority of Virginia voters now support legal same-sex marriage, a sharp reversal from a 2006 vote to amend the state constitution to define marriage as for a man and woman only.” And the narrow focus on marriage favored by anti-gay ideologues doesn’t even begin to address the overwhelming sentiment of Virginians in favor of basic civil rights protections in such areas as employment and housing. To describe the Virginia GOP as out of touch on civil rights would be exceedingly kind.
Coincidentally, today is the anniversary of the landmark 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans, in which the Supreme Court struck down a Colorado constitutional amendment that singled out LGBTQ persons as uniquely disqualified to seek protection from discrimination. The court said:
We find nothing special in the protections Amendment 2 withholds. These are protections taken for granted by most people either because they already have them or do not need them; these are protections against exclusion from an almost limitless number of transactions and endeavors that constitute ordinary civic life in a free society.
See, that’s what “civil rights” means: Protections to which everyone is entitled, but taken for granted by people who already have them. Denying them to any specific group of people actually constitutes a “special right” to discriminate, which is precisely the opposite of Mr. Jackson’s self-centered and infantile understanding. In general, people who have experienced discrimination for one reason are better able to understand discrimination as a universal evil, not less. Only when members of the group targeted for discriminatory treatment can be successfully dehumanized and lied about is it possible to turn one minority group against another. And this is what Jackson attempts to do.
As mendacious as the Cuccinelli television ad is, at least it demonstrates an understanding that the “real Cuccinelli” needs to be tucked out of public view for awhile. The Cuccinelli team must be cringing today.
Here’s a typical comment by a white activist that expresses the thinking of those who nominated this Jackson person:
Jackson is liberty minded. He gives a powerful message and is a dynamic speaker. I hope that he will bring a lot of African Americans into the Republican Party so we can get back the Presidency in 2016.
Seriously, a significant segment of GOP activists believe that African American voters will fail to notice this candidate’s small-minded perversion of the Civi Rights Movement and lack of intellectual depth, and will support him simply because of his race and “dynamic speaking.” It’s pretty hard to overstate how offensive and insulting this is.
We heard thinking similar to this in Loudoun back in 2011, when a particular white LCRC activist bragged that he was doing fabulous outreach to the black community by escorting an equally anti-gay Sheriff’s candidate here, there, and everywhere. (It was probably not helpful that this activist was also engaged in extended online conversations during which he defended the Old Confederacy and insisted that our view of slavery today is unfairly negative.) I just don’t see any evidence of learning in this nomination. None at all.