Servants and Anchors

GOP throwing chaff as Rep. Riddle rambles about terror babies

OK, so let's recap. Gubernatorial hopeful Bill White makes a biblical reference and gets accused of race baiting. Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Houston, goes on CNN to talk about terrorist anchor babies and that's fine and dandy with the Texas GOP.

Riddle's claim is that anonymous ex-FBI agents have told her that terrorists are deliberately giving birth in the US so they can have terrorist anchor babies. That's a theory that Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, dismantled as legally and factually baseless in under two minutes.

Frankly, Riddle's terrorist anchor baby theory is about as plausible as believing that Riddle's ancestors moved to the US with the deliberate intention that their descendants could inject baseless conservative conspiracy theories into the headlines.

So, in what seems like a particularly ridiculous attempt to distract the press, Gov. Rick Perry et al. have started throwing press releases around accusing White of race baiting.

Say wuh?

At an event this week in Dallas, White said, "We need a governor who's a servant, as opposed to Rick Perry, who wants to be treated as master." Because there were African-American people in the audience, that's race baiting. Yup, you read that right. Never mind that White has used this metaphor repeatedly throughout the campaign without the squeals of complaint that erupted today. This is the big story of the week. Not Riddle's al-Qaeda creche theory.

Of course, the GOP has piled on to this supposed slight. Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri said, "Bill White’s use of the word 'master' when speaking to an African-American group no doubt was a political calculation on his part to conjure up a racially divisive message." Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams followed that up by "conjuring up images of slavery, [White's comments] are simply ignorant and offensive."

Similarly, Perry's re-election campaign is now demanding a retraction because, according to Governor Goodhair's spokesman Rob Johnson, "Instead of talking about issues that will move this state forward, Bill White has chosen a path based on scare tactics and division."

This from the governor that still refuses to hold a debate. So how White is supposed to engage him on the issues remains an unanswered question.

Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway, D-Dallas, hosted the White event and has fired back at Perry that "this is a clear attempt on the part of Rick Perry's campaign to use an emotionally sensitive issue like slavery to gain votes." She added that she was "saddened" By William's comment, "especially since being an African-American, he should know better."

What makes this particularly ridiculous is that Perry has used the term "servant" in speeches on dozens of occasions – including at the African American Pastors and Leaders Summit in 2007. "Public servant" is an accepted term, so to say that White is doing anything other than making a play on words when he calls Perry a master seems like yet another part of the GOP's attempts to depict itself as a victim of racism.

Oh, and if we're going to equate servant with the worst parts of America's racially segregated history, let's make something clear. The issue isn't about servants. It's about slaves.

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Bill White, Elections, Rick Perry, Dirty Tricks, Debbie Riddle, Rafael Anchia, Anderson Cooper

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