The number three Republican in the House did what?
News just broke that Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise gave a speech to a well-known group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in 2002. Scrambling for cover, Rep. Scalise has offered various excuses to explain-away his actions, but the facts speak for themselves. As a 36-year-old aspiring politician in Louisiana, he made a choice to speak to a hate group led by David Duke, America’s most famous white supremacist.
Scalise’s pandering to white supremacists is appalling. But instead of taking action to remove Scalise from leadership, House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have stood behind him, confirming Scalise’s position as the number three Republican in the House.
House Republicans must disavow the white supremacy movement. Tell Speaker Boehner to remove Rep. Steve Scalise from his Republican leadership position immediately.
When reports of the speech first surfaced, Scalise initially claimed that he didn’t know the European-American Unity and Rights Organization was a white supremacist group. It’s a claim that holds little water given David Duke’s notoriety in his home state of Louisiana and nationally. It’s also clear that the conference caused a widely reported controversy for the hotel where it was being held. A hotel official disavowed the group’s beliefs and a minor league baseball team from Iowa moved to a different hotel to avoid being affiliated with the hate group.1
Speaker Boehner would like people to think of Scalise’s actions as a one-time mistake from the distant past. But Scalise has had other chances to distance himself from Duke’s positions on white supremacy and has made himself more than clear. In 1999 he was interviewed about Duke by Roll Call. Rather than denounce Duke’s hate, he claimed to embrace many of Duke’s “conservative” views but declared himself more electable.2 In 2004, Scalise was one of only six state representatives to vote against making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a state holiday in Louisiana.
Speaker Boehner has presided over a House of Representatives that has refused to fix the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act and has blocked all attempts to pass comprehensive immigration reform. If he refuses to take action to remove Scalise from leadership, Speaker Boehner will be confirming that his Republican party is willing to stand with the most nativist and racist elements among its base.
Disavowing white supremacists should be a no-brainer even for Republicans. Tell Speaker Boehner to remove Steve Scalise from leadership now.
Thanks for standing up against hate.
“Steve Scalise’s Denials Are Not Believable,” Mark Potok, SPLC Hatewatch, 12/30/2014.
“What Scalise and Vitter Told Roll Call About David Duke in 1999,” Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call, 12/29/2014.