This week, two Republican leaders in their state parties were caught forwarding racist emails, and the responses to the scandals couldn’t have been more different.
In Virginia Beach, Republican Party Chair Dave Bartholomew forwarded an extremely racist joke comparing African-Americans to dogs while telling a story about trying to apply for welfare benefits. The email was forwarded from the same account he used for official party business.
Within a matter of 24 hours, Bartholomew, under fire from members of both parties, resigned his party position.
By Tuesday morning the heat was becoming too much for Bartholomew to handle. Second District GOP chair Gary Byler told the Virginian-Pilot that Bartholomew “agreed to resign because the e-mail had become a distraction to the Nov. 2 election.” He offered this to the paper by way of explanation for the racist email:
The e-mail was dated March 15 and sent from the address that Bartholomew uses as party chairman. Bartholomew forwarded it without reading the contents when “he was first getting familiar with the Internet,” Byler said.
Byler assured the paper that Bartholomew is “not a racist.”
In another instance this week, this time in California, an Orange County Republican Central Committee member sent her own racist email, this one showing a picture of a family with ape heads photoshopped on, with President Barack Obama’s head on the youngest, with the subject “Now you know why no birth certificate.”
Marilyn Davenport, the activist who sent the email, is utterly unappolegetic, and doesn’t believe anyone should be bothered by what she sent. NBC Los Angeles reports:
However, Davenport responded to the Weekly [who published her email], “Oh, come on! Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black. Besides, I only sent it to a few people — mostly people I didn’t think would be upset by it.”
Davenport reportedly is looking for identity of “the coward” who supplied the email to the Weekly and is blaming the media for “making this a big deal.”
Did Bartholomew or Davenport have the right reaction? Are these emails something that activists should condemn or resign over, or are they being made into too “big of a deal” by the media and others? And why does the number of these emails being sent around appear to be growing?