I am writing today with sadness over, not just the stupid comment by dumb and dumber (Rex Rammell and some unknown woman) but the lack of reaction here in my own home town. By now everyone knows, even many across the country thanks to Jared Hopkins, and Julie Fanselow that long shot GOP candidate for governor of Idaho, Rex Rammell, really stepped in it this week. In a speech at a local Twin Falls GOP event, long-shot getting longer Rammell criticized his opponent Governor Butch Otter for not living up to his promise to purchase the first wolf tag issued in our State. The often controversial Rammell reacted to a woman who shouted out something about "Obama tags" from a crowd of around 100 Tuesday night. In what he calls an effort to be sarcastic, Rammell yelled back, "Obama tags? We’d buy some of those!"
For the non hunters, like those confused yesterday on the kos, I need to explain what a tag means in Idaho. To bloggers and many people that don’t hunt or live in the West, a tag is a word or phrase you attach to a blog that provides a tool to search for topics; like Rammell, Twitter, fool, etc. To those of us familiar with hunting, a tag is a much prized possession. It is issued by the Fish and Game Department and gives you permission to hunt and kill game animals. Someone must have a hunting license and a tag to hunt or they are poaching. There is a lot of competition for some tags. Hunters wait for years to hunt in certain areas or for some highly prized animals. The tag is a method of identifying game and the reason you see those little tiny houses by the road side in the fall. The point here is that game equals dead animals and tags equal opportunities to bag game.
This is precisely why the comments by the audience member and Rex were so abhorrent. When this woman made a remark about tags, any hunter knows that a tag conjures up images of a game animal, skinned, quarted, and bagged or some prize trophy mounted and hanging in a den. My girl friend calls her husband’s collection "dead heads." To make the connection from hunting and bagging wolves to hunting and bagging a President, especially a black president, is just unforgivable.
Not only has Rammell refused to apologize Friday for this comment, he then sent this message out on Twitter today; "Anyone who understands the law, knows I was just joking, because Idaho has no jurisdiction to issue hunting tags in Washington, D.C." With this madness evidently some of the Idaho GOP have had enough. Senator Mike Crapo said not only were Rex Rammell's comments in very poor taste and should not have been said, but adds that "we are engaged in a critical national debate over many major issues facing our country today. Remarks like these are not only unhelpful in that debate, but they undermine it. He should apologize for those remarks and for the perception they may have created." I only wish that he had said that sooner and that he will remember the debate part, not just the no health care part. Rep. Mike Simpson said, "It is absolutely irresponsible to say such inflammatory things, especially for someone who seeks to be a leader in Idaho. I know our great state is filled with people who do not share Rex Rammell's views and we should not let isolated situations dictate how our state is perceived." Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko is strangely quiet, as sadly are most Twin Falls republicans. In fairness Rammell did originally say that he would never support (Obama) being assassinated, but it seems to me this new comment could incite some nut in DC. Does he think he is going to sell some of his books with this or that he is being cute? Well I find no humor in his earlier remarks and even less in today’s. And this guy has the nerve to tell the Democrats in the state to "just take a deep breath and relax."
Well I for one am tired of chilling out while I hear ranting and threats to President Obama or Nancy Pelosi or some other liberal every day. There are jokes about poisoning the speaker of the house. Jewish members of Congress have been subjected to Nazi salutes and Glen Beck calls AmeriCorp volunteers Brown Shirts and compares Obama to Saddam Hussein. Beck is literally screaming at Orrin Hatch (R) Utah for daring to honor Ted Kennedy. I go into my local bank and see and hear this drivel on a flat screen. Then I watch video feeds of our local republican officials standing up at a local freedom rally and basically tell the crowd that their extreme ideas are right on; the Constitution is in danger and the sky is falling. Remember that the people on Tuesday listening to Rammell and this woman are not some fringe group, but our local elected officials and GOP supporters. They are the people who stood quietly or even laughed at the tag comment.
It hasn’t been that long ago, as Steve Crump reminded us recently, that the clan was not only visible in Twin Falls, but working for a foot hold in our local churches. There are stories of black men being rolled up in barbed wire and dragged through the streets of Burley less than 60 years ago. When I moved to Twin Falls in the late 1970s, my church’s minister spoke out against the cross burnings just across the canyon in Jerome county. I know that the majority of the citizens in our community and in Burley never did such things or condoned it, but did anyone stop it?
As I watch images of people screaming at town halls, hateful posters with "Kill Obama, Obama equals Black Supremacy, etc. and hate mongering coming from Fox and on talk radio, I really think I have woken up in a nightmare. When I think of all the pride and excitement in the inauguration crowd I stood with in DC; black and white, I wonder what happened? One friend said I should take a gun to DC and feared for my safety, but today I have more concern here than I did there. Not two months ago I stood in the ASU stadium and watched thousands applaud our President and smile. Where are all the people that do not share Rammell's views that Senator Simpson so eloquently speaks of in our city?
People right here in Twin Falls can laugh about hunting Obama. Comments below today’s article and yesterday’s have many condemning Rammell’s remarks, but more are hateful and angry. I know that worse ones never even make it in. One person argues that Rex's comments aren’t racist. One needs only to read literature and study history to see the link between slavery and references to hunting and being hunted. Images of men being chased down with dogs and guns and the worse inhumanity to man possible comes to my mind. No, there is no racism in these remarks. I was angry yesterday but now I am just sad...so horribly sad.
This is the reason that I called the Times News reporter yesterday and why I reacted to the lack of response in Twin Falls even now. To the state party’s credit, the senators and congressmen have come forward and are distancing themselves from the remarks, but they are politicians with careers and savvy. A few like Mr. Maugham spoke up and apologized for others. One of our county commissioners said that it wasn’t appropriate to speak out because Rammell was giving a speech. It didn’t seem to stop the woman who made the tag remark, did it?
So this is for all of you that let the remark go, ignore it, or pretend you didn’t hear it. We have all done it. I stood and let women in my bowling league tell hateful Rastus jokes in front of my best friend whose husband was black. Words do indeed hurt. They cause immeasurable pain, kill souls, drive people to suicide, and incite hate crimes and, God forbid, assassinations. I urge everyone to think about this the next time someone says or acts in away that is hurtful or hateful to anyone, in your town, state, or even in the MSM. All it takes is one crazy to hear a remark and act on it to make it a tragedy. All it takes is one person to stand up or shout out that "that’s not appropriate or I don’t appreciate that comment, etc" to stop it. It is not too late.