Hate, racism, and sexism in VA politics

I got an email yesterday from the Pat Edmonson for LG campaign. Glancing only at the headline, I moved on to the next message in my too full mailbox. Seeing this post last night, though, caused me to go back and read it.

Last week, Pat began receiving hate emails containing racist, sexist, and homophobic rhetoric. These emails were also sent to members of the Hampton Roads community. They were followed with threats against the candidate. Now, blogs have been used to perpetuate attacks against Pat.

Pat knows that women in politics face real challenges, but there is no place in Virginia political discourse for these sort of attacks. Pat has been called names like “slut” and “dyke”, and her husband (who is African American) has been referenced by racial epithets.

When all else fails, attack the candidate. Not for his or her positions, but personally. It’s the way politics is done. Most of the public – even if the MSM reports it – will shrug this off as politics as usual.

Doing so is a mistake.

There should be no room in our politics for such behavior. That there is demonstrates that the politicians who run things are willing to do or say whatever is necessary – true or not – in order to win. Further, it demonstrates that the voters are just where the politicians want them to be: on the sidelines, letting the few make the choice on who our candidates will be.

The people have been lulled – by their own inaction – into a sense that politics is dirty and that’s just the way it is. But it doesn’t have to be. There are a lot more of us than there are of them. If we wanted to, we could change the way politics is done. But far too many are “too busy” to get involved, the result being the kind of attacks that Pat Edmonson and others experience, attacks that divert the candidate’s attention away from the real issues of jobs, healthcare, education and others.

When asked what kind of government had been chosen by the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Bemjamin Franklin is purported to have said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Whenever I see personal attacks on candidates go unremarked, when I see our choices as voters limited by the inside baseball of backroom politics, I am reminded just how dangerously close we are to not keeping it.

UPDATE: I just received via email a statement from Jon Bowerbank, as follows:

“With the economy in crisis and more and more Virginians losing their jobs every day, the last thing we need in this campaign is personal and hateful attacks that impede, rather than contribute to, solving the problems we face in Virginia and in our nation.  Messages of hate have no place in this campaign, this Commonwealth, and this country.”

12 thoughts on “Hate, racism, and sexism in VA politics

  1. Very unfortunate (though I don’t know where I would go to find these sorts of statements about…wait maybe I should check the comments section at NLS before saying I don’t know of anyone saying things like this).

  2. It is the same ole thing that Hillary Clinton had to deal with.
    My message to Pat, hang strong, don’t let them get you down,
    hold your head high, and remember, you are setting a course that
    many young women will following in the future. Hopefully they won’t
    have to deal with the same ole crap!

  3. This actually points to your issue with the anonymous letter, too, Vivian. One pernicious side effect of the anonymous Internet is that it enables a vicious mysogynism that flares up in much stranger places than politics. There was this incident a couple of years ago, when a California computer blogger, who wrote mainly about Java programming, was basically run off the web and forced to cancel some speaking engagements due to death and rape threats on her blog. It’s not just impossible to excuse such behavior; it’s almost impossible to comprehend and explain it.

    I’m not a Pat Edmonson supporter, but I certainly hope she stands up to this. It is inexcusable.

  4. Well, this is sad and unfortunate, and we all decry this kind of disgusting hatred. But I feel it’s important that we don’t get ourselves too bogged down by the idea that it will never change or never improve. It will, and it has.

    Knowledge and listening. People who say this stuff are mostly reacting to some fear in emotional and highly irrational ways. Sometimes they might be reachable, unfortunately many are not, but the rest of us can be educated about why these things are uttered. And when more and more are aware and educate about the causes of hatred, it can be dissipated.

    I appreciate your bringing this to our attention, Vivian. Truly sad and disgusting, indeed.

  5. Something smells.

    “We already know (from emails and posts) that these people are self identified Jody Wagner supporters.”

    Misogynist emails from Jody Wagner supporters?

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