Friday, April 11, 2014

Chapa LaVia versus the ‘reverse racist’ screechers? Sadly, it’s not a new issue

It has been several years since I covered the Illinois General Assembly on a daily basis. But my memories include a few moments when someone pointed out the fact that the Republican caucuses were all-white operations.

CHAPA LaVIA: What's a "half?"
Invariably, somebody on that side of the political equation would get snitty. There’d be a few moments of ire. Usually something along the line of how unfair it was to Republicans to point out the fact that all of the non-white legislators were in the Democratic Party caucuses.

SO WHEN I learned about the rant this week of state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, and the reaction it has stirred up in Springfield, I can’t say I was shocked.

Because it’s really the same old nonsense. Even the people who are trying to claim that the “Lady from Kane” is somehow the ultimate bigot strike me as spewing the same nonsense. It’s as though nothing changes with the passage of time.

If you get the sense that I’m not terribly offended by the representative’s comments, you’d be correct. They were garish, but no more so than 99 percent of the rhetoric that gets spewed in the course of a day by the General Assembly.

I’m actually more bothered by the people who want to make an issue of this. Including the Chicago Tribune, which on Thursday editorialized against her and said she deserves public admonishment from the Legislature’s leadership.

NONSENSE!!! THE ONLY people who deserve admonishment are those who want to make an ongoing issue out of this. They really weren't entitled to the "apology" that Chapa LaVia felt compelled to make on Thursday.

For the record, the Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday was debating a bill related to charter schools. The representative isn’t a fan, in part because she thinks they wind up focusing their benefits on certain people – while ignoring the educational needs of others.

And yes, by others, she means those people who aren’t white. So that puts the racial tinge on this conversation, which will make people uneasy enough.

ANTHONY: GOP contribution to black caucus
But then the rhetoric got stepped up when she said to her legislative colleagues, “Listen to me, minorities. I’m over here because we’re all over on this side of the aisle, right?”

WHICH GOT THE Republican side of the Illinois House all in an uproar because – back in August – a legislative vacancy out of Kendall County was filled by naming John Anthony as a representative. He’s biracial. So technically, the Illinois House Republican caucus isn’t as lily-white as usual.

She then responded to the GOP outburst by saying, “Wait! We have a half. We have a half.”

Which she since has told the Aurora Beacon News newspaper referred to the fact that she was directing her talk to the Democratic “half” of the Illinois House, rather than the Republican half.

Although the Chicago Tribune chooses to take this to mean that Anthony isn’t a real person – but is just a “half.”

ALTHOUGH WHEN I first heard the comment, I thought she meant that she was mocking the idea that the Republican black “caucus” of Anthony is somehow equal to the notion of the 20 Illinois House and 10 Illinois Senate members who are African-American.

Which, to me, is what the Republican complaining always tries to imply. Also consider that Anthony was the first black person to serve as a Republican in the Illinois General Assembly in three decades – meaning you have to go back to the days when the Legislature was structured in a way that every district HAD to pick people of both parties. Which meant inner-city districts sent Republicans to Springfield, just like the rural areas had token Democratic members.

I also can’t help but notice that whenever Anthony does get mentioned in news coverage, it always emphasizes the fact that he was a cop in Champaign and with the Kendall County sheriff’s department. As though Republican leadership doesn’t want to acknowledge his race UNLESS they think they can score political points off it.

The bottom line is that Republicans probably are the last people to complain about this issue – even if they don’t like having that fact pointed out to them.

AS FAR AS the explanations of what Chapa LaVia meant, I honestly think my interpretation makes more sense that hers, or the Tribune’s. But I’ll give the representative credit for being truthful in explaining herself.

More 'gloom' and 'doom' for the Statehouse Scene
“Half” meant the Democratic Party half of the Illinois House; which is the only reason I’m not willing to absolve Chapa LaVia of any blame in this whole nonsensical fiasco.

Directing her rhetoric solely to her allies, while trying to shut out the opposition? That’s the kind of stunt we often accuse the Tea Party types of doing. The fact that she would do it too makes her no better than the people she’d criticize.

The fact that she gave some political blowhards with racial hang-ups some ground to think they have a moral high ground on anything is worse than anything she actually said.


No comments: