A lot of the news in the past few months have been focused on past actions or comments of politicians several decades ago. It may reveal a person’s past sexist, racist or homophobic attitudes. I have very mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand, I think it’s important that elected officials receive scrutiny and are held accountable. On the other hand, I worry that individuals are being judged on one moment of their life without putting it in the context of their whole lives. Does their whole life still reflect the racism, sexism, or homophobia of their younger years? Or have they changed and tried to grow past their earlier prejudices?
I think we all have prejudices. I know I’ve struggled to overcome my own prejudices. When I look at people, do they stubbornly hold on to their prejudices and treat other people badly due to those prejudices? Or do they try to learn and grow past those prejudices?
We’re all human and we all make mistakes. We all at some point have made comments that we later regret. In my own life, I’ve often been a passive observer. When I attended an evangelical church in the 1990s, I witnessed several instances where a group harassed an individual for going against some church dogma. I knew what the group was doing was wrong. But I didn’t have the courage to speak up and defend the individuals. I still deeply regret that. I learned the dangers of groupthink and the importance of speaking out even if it goes against the group.
If a politician did something racist or sexist or homophobic in his or her past, did that person try to make amends to the people who were hurt by those actions? Did they try to learn and overcome their prejudices? Or have they just doubled down on their prejudices and continued to hurt people?
After a long history of controversial statements by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, House Republicans stripped the 16-year congressman of his committee membership on Monday night. He recently wondered in The New York Times how terms like “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became “offensive.” PBS Newshour correspondent Lisa Desjardins gets analysis from O. Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa and Asma Khalid of NPR.
Here is a video of Iowa Representative Steve King talking to the Iowa press about a range of topics, especially his comments on white nationalism in a New York Times interview.
Here is a video of Governor Ralph Northam commenting on the recent controversy surrounding photos in his medical school yearbook.
Here is a Washington Post video examining some of the controversial things about Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, including her past positions on LGBTQ rights.
Here is the last part of the PBS documentary “George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire” from the series American Experience. Originally aired April 24, 2000. This segment examines how George Wallace won the black vote in the 1980s after being an ardent and very public segregationist in the 1960s and 1970s.