John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Steve Stiver’s Sister Souljah Moment

Posted on October 31, 2018
Following the Rodney King riots in 1992, Lisa Williamson, better known to history as Sister Souljah was quoted saying, "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?”

The comments didn’t get that much attention until William Jefferson Clinton, struggling in the polls, confronted the rap star at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition meeting, saying, “If you took the words 'white' and 'black,' and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech."

Clinton’s comments angered Jesse Jackson and many of his supporters, but it solidified his image as a moderate, gave him energy in the polls and eventually propelled him to the Presidency.

Confronting the extremes of your own political base has forever been known to pundits as creating your own Sister Souljah moment.

Since his comments about the Charlottesville hate rally, President Trump has desperately needed his own Sister Souljah moment.

The white nationalist wing of the conservative base represents about a thousand people, but it has an outsized presence on the Internet and on Social media.  They are small in numbers but prolific in trolling.

Like Fortnight is to the pre-teen set, linking white nationalist rhetoric to the Trump Administration has been an outright obsession to the media and their political wing, the Democratic Party.

And frankly, it hasn’t been that hard for them to do.

Any time the President says anything at all controversial, you can find David Duke, giving Mr. Trump the rhetorical equivalent of the thumbs up emoji.

So, when the President says he is a nationalist, the media and Duke both assume he means he is a white nationalist.

That is not good for the President, nor for the Republican Party, nor for the country.

You can be for a border wall and not be a white nationalist.  Chuck Schumer voted for a border wall back when George W. Bush was President.  John McCain promised his voters he was going to secure the border and build the dang fence when he ran for reelection in 2010.

You can be for better trade agreements and not be a white nationalist.

You can even urge the ending of racial quotas, be supportive of law enforcement and think that ICE serves an important role and not be a white nationalist.

Steve Stivers, an Ohio Republican who heads up the GOP’s Congressional Campaign Committee, showed the President how to create Sister Souljah moment.

His colleague Steve King, an Iowa Republican, has long dabbled in white nationalist rhetoric.  He has retweeted comments from fringe elements.  He has offered support for the Austrian Freedom Party, which was founded by a former Nazi SS officer.   He supported a Canadian politician who appeared on a neo-Nazi podcast hosted by the Daily Stormer.

Stivers finally had enough of King’s shenanigans and called him out on it.  He bravely tweeted out, “Congressman Steve King’s recent comments, actions, and retweets are completely inappropriate. We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.”

It’s about time somebody did it.

King’s views don’t represent the bulk of the Republican Party.  Sure, Republicans want border security, they don’t want an influx of illegal immigrants and they are worried about the future health of this country.

But the overwhelming majority of Republicans want to put racial strife behind them and create a more unified nation where we judge each other not by skin color but instead by the content of our character.    And the overwhelming majority of Republicans strongly approve of legal immigration because it helps to grow the economy and make America stronger.

If Republicans lose the House -- and while I refuse to concede that they will, most experts think I am delusional – it will be because of the actions of two crazy people on the far right.

One of those was an ex-bodybuilder and Trump supporter who sent pipe-bombs to a long list of the President’s enemies.  The other was a Trump hater who killed 11 worshippers in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, who spewed a long list of anti-Semitic filth on the Internet before screwing the optics and going on his shooting spree.

Had the President taken concrete steps to not only condemn white nationalism but do something to disrupt its networks and combat its venomous hate, he would have done the Republican Party and the country a world of good and perhaps insulated himself from charges that he somehow inspired that crazy behavior.

After the midterms are over next Tuesday, he should follow the example of Steve Stivers and create his own Sister Souljah moment.





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