Dems need to condemn senator's remarks about race

Posted 9/29/2008 11:52:00 PM

By Dan Foley

Fernando C. de Baca has resigned his post as chairman of the Republican Party of Bernalillo County. I want to state from the outset that his comments that prompted his departure were absolutely wrong, divisive and in fact historically incorrect. I want to get that point out of the way early in this article because I know those of you who are not particularly my fans will be presuming that I did not disagree with his comments. However, I did and I still do.

I also want to say that Fernando C. de Baca has proven by stepping down that he has more integrity, courage and loyalty than any of the Democrats who couldn’t wait to get their pictures and comments in the media.

I am confident not a single Republican, at any level in New Mexico or nationally, agrees with Fernando. And Republicans led the way in doing the right thing regarding those remarks. From Sen. Domenici to Darren White, from Allen Weh to Pat Rogers, all stepped up to say that those remarks were wrong and that Fernando should step down. But what about the Democrats in New Mexico? Once again, they reemphasize, unwittingly to be sure, how consistently bad they have been -- and continue to be -- when it comes to dealing with race in our country.

Why would Brian Colón, Ben Lujan and Sheryl Williams Stapleton all get out front talking about Fernando C. de Baca while failing to say a single thing about an elected member of their own party who has made equally offensive comments about Barack Obama? I don’t know the answer to that either. But here is a quote from a widely published article about N.M. State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia published in August in the Rocky Mountain News:

“Mary Jane Garcia, a New Mexico state senator and pledged Clinton delegate, cried as Clinton conceded. She first met Hillary Clinton in 1992 and speaks of her like a sister who has been wronged. ‘It hurt me deeply,’ she said of Clinton’s loss. ‘I’m really struggling. I’m going to Denver to cast my vote only for Hillary and no one else. She’s good. She’s kind. She’s compassionate.’

“Garcia, 71, lives in Doña Ana, just north of Las Cruces. She thinks Obama has come off as condescending and arrogant.

“‘I don’t know one single Hispanic over 50 who will cast a vote for Obama,’ she said, conceding that ‘there have always been conflicts between blacks and browns.’”

Now why does Mary Jane Garcia, who by the way is the sitting Democratic whip in the New Mexico State Senate, get a pass on her comment, while Fernando C. de Baca is sent packing as a county chairman? What would posses the chairman of the Democrat Party, the speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives and the majority whip of the New Mexico House of Representatives to say anything about C. de Baca while allowing Mary Jane Garcia to get away with her comments? How come nobody is calling for her to resign with the same strength and vigor they did for C. de Baca?

Had the Garcia story been about a Republican…

I am sure some of you are going to say you didn’t know about her comments. And I have to concede that, but that in and of itself raises a question about the media coverage. Whether it had taken place in Las Cruces or had first been reported in the Rocky Mountain News would not have mattered if Garcia had been a Republican. This story would have been picked up and it would have run on the front page of New Mexico newspapers for several days had it been a Republican making these statements. There is no question about that.

But my question today is to the Democrats who called on Fernando C. de Baca to resign. Are you going to be consistent and ask for the same thing from Democrats who make these same kinds of statements? Or once again are you going to sweep it under the rug -- like you do Robert Byrd’s history with the Ku Klux Klan? Are you going to stand up and show that you actually care more about people than you do your party? Are you going to once again follow the lead of Republicans and do what is right when it comes to civil rights and dealing with race?

Although your party came kicking and screaming, so to speak, after 120 years of opposing civil rights, it did finally join Republicans in doing the right thing. The first Civil Rights Act they supported was, finally, in 1964. And I give them credit for that.

But now Democrats need to do what is right, follow the Republicans’ lead and stand up to a member of your own party. Democrats need to condemn the offensive comments of Mary Jane Garcia, and do so with the same energy you did when the comments came from Fernando C. de Baca. This is your chance to do what is right. Unlike before, you don’t have to wait a century to do the right thing. You can do it now.

Foley, a Republican, is the outgoing minority whip in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

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5 Comments:

At 7:47 AM, September 30, 2008, Blogger Voter said...

will admit that I dont usually agree with Dan Foley but this is the one exception. He is absolutely right on!
Ms. Garcia's comments were just as offensive as Mr. C de Baca's and the fact that the media pounces on C de Baca and ignores Garcia is sad!

Its also sad that the democratic party is being so self righteous as to C de Baca's comments while ignoring the fact that one of their own is making equally offensive comments.

 
At 10:31 AM, September 30, 2008, Blogger Thinker said...

I agree with voter--for once I agree with Foley that what is fair for the gander is equally fair for the goose, so to speak, not to make partisan pot shots but because I expect better from my elected officials.

Ms. Garcia has of recent years been coming off as quite the estrogen-deprived drama queen, such as in regards to her statements about Hilary not being nominated. I wish someone would go back and ask her now what she feels about the nominee, and find out if she still thinks browns won't vote for blacks.

 
At 10:47 AM, September 30, 2008, Blogger bootjack said...

It pains me greatly to state this but I also agree with Mr. Foley.Since the original article was reported on in this blog I have been commenting on the same inconsistency concerning the pass issued,at least on this blog's behalf,to Senator Garcia.If one chooses to be morally outraged about questionable racial tinged comments,don't be selective,otherwise it may be construed as hypocrisy.Oh,that's right,Senator Garcia achieved political correctness and forgiveness by recently placing a bumper sticker of Obama's on her vehicle,someone should have told the Chairman that's all he had to do for a pass.

 
At 1:13 PM, September 30, 2008, Blogger politicagal said...

Let me just say this about former representative Foley's remarks regarding Sen. Garcia. Let me applaud the republican party for doing the right thing and making sure that Foley had opposition in the primary.At which he was soundly defeated. It cost the republicans $250.000 to do so.So I am thinking comments from a right wing loser really don't carry much weight. I am also thinking does he think the republicans stood up to the plate when they did everything to see him defeated

 
At 1:53 PM, September 30, 2008, Blogger carter said...

Since I was as vocal and personal in my criticism of Fernando C de Baca as I’ve been of anyone in my column, I’ll briefly address two points made by fellow columnist and friend Dan Foley.

First, there’s a world of difference between pointing out that there historically was a brown-black divide in America and saying that one race is superior to another. If C de Baca had merely said what Sen. Garcia had said, there’d be no outrage at all. But he said something far different, and said something incredibly poisonous. To blame it all on some left-wing media conspiracy is to fail to read the two statements with a critical, objective eye.

Second, Rep. Foley claims that Dems were late to join the GOP in supporting Civil Rights. It’s technically true that many Republicans joined Northern Dems and the Democratic adminstrations of JFK and LBJ in supporting equal rights, and that Southern Dems opposed equal rights. If the Dems of today were the Dems of 1964, I wouldn’t belong to the Democratic Party.

But what happened to all those Southern Dems save the one that Foley mentioned (Byrd)? They almost all became Republicans. Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott, and most all of the other most vocal and consistent racists of the last 50 years in public office have been from the Deep South. Almost all of the older ones grew up Dems in the 40s and 50s, and almost all have been Republicans since the Civil Rights Movement.

For Foley to pretend that the GOP has, at any time in the last 50 years, been the champion of minorities or equal rights is a farce. LBJ even predicted that his signing the Civil Rights Act would cost Dems the South for three generations, and it looks like he was spot on.

Thank goodness for two trends that are eroding the old racist voting patterns of the South: the influx of Yankees into places like Northern Virginia and the Research Triangle in North Carolina, and the increasing diversity of all of America. Guys like Thurmond and Helms wouldn’t stand a chance in the America of 2020.

Maybe after three generations, Dems’ political punishment for standing up for equal rights and the Republicans’ ability to use racism for political gain will come to an end. But the Dems' reward of having a good conscience for being the party of civil rights when it wasn’t popular will never fade.

 

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