Last week, the Colorado State House heard in committee a bill that would have saddled Colorado schools with steep fines for using Native Americans’ tribe names as mascots without tribes’ permission. As part of that hearing, Democratic Reps. Joe Salazar and Jovan Melton offered a slide show of racially-insensitive names for minority groups, including the N-word. Here’s how The Statesman described the spectacle:
Monday’s hearing before the House Education Committee started with a presentation from the bill’s sponsors that caused an uproar. The sponsors, Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton and Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, began with a slideshow loop that showed caricatures for African-Americans, Chinese, Jews and Hispanics, along with racially-offensive language, including the “N” word.
That got the immediate attention of Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, who asked that the slideshow stop. “I have a hard time seeing the ‘N’ word up there,” Fields told the sponsors. “I’m highly offended by it, by those terms…Your point has been made.” Both Melton and Salazar said they also were offended by the words and images, but that this was the point. Fields left the hearing and didn’t return for two hours.
Can you imagine if Republicans offered such a presentation – even in the name of cleansing the names from our vernacular? It would be the lead story on MSNBC (that’s still around right?) for days. It would have been the talk on Sunday morning’s “Meet the Press”. Its authors would have been rebuked by The Denver Post and on the floor of the House. It would have been a disaster.
Yet, the silence is deafening.
Why do Democrats get a free pass for disseminating racially inappropriate items? To be clear, we do not condone racial slurs at all, but it is important to point out the glaring double standard in this instance. Lest readers think we’re being political, remember that Rep. Fields also found the presentation distasteful. We hope that legislators in the future have more common sense than to glorify the use of these words and names in official proceedings – or anywhere else, frankly.