Friday, September 12, 2014

Oklahoma Republican So-Called Leaders Need a Backbone to Turn Off Hate Spigot of Oklahoma Hard Right

Bennett said he has received hundreds of messages supporting his position and that he won't step down or apologize.  "I work for my constituents, and they determine if I get hired or fired," Bennett said. "I'm definitely not going to apologize." Houston Chronicle

When I think that the hate rhetoric spouted by hard right Oklahoma Republicans cannot sink lower, I have to admit I am wrong again as a member of the GOP Legislature has gone after Muslims on Facebook.  Rep Bennett is only in power because of a weak previous speaker who played to the hard right to become Speaker on his way to what he thought would be a US Senate position but was derailed in the primary. Another reason I stayed Republican through the primary -- #1 was to vote against the worst State School Superintendent have ever seen -- Janet Barresi (came in 3rd in the primary) and second was to vote against someone I know for someone I don't really know, Rep Lankford, for the Senate seat Dr. Coburn is leaving early.  Lankford is too far hard right for me so I am voting Democrat in the general but he was the best GOP in the primary IMO.  More on OK 2014 Senate races in future blog posts.    

As a note, on September 3rd, I switched party registration from longtime Republican to Democrat -- never thought I would see that day but then I never saw such a hate filled Republican Party as I have seen in Oklahoma.  Some comments out of elected officials make me cringe yet they embrace anything that is anti-Obama including militia.  It is in fact scary at some of the comments that come out of some Republicans that are never disavowed because others are afraid they will lose support of the hard right in this state which is necessary for them to win elections.  Finally just gave up that the Republican Party in this state was ever going to have any common sense and switched.  Most Democrats here I know are center left so this center right person feels right at home.

Difference is the Democrats here are not so hate filled and care about people, schools, and infrastructure to name a few while the hard right Republicans who run this state would rather talk about social issues -- anti-gay including marriage, stricter abortion laws, and making Oklahoma a Christian state where other religions are not welcome seems to be their ultimate goal.

The news reports about Rep Bennett take the prize when I thought former Rep Randy Terrell's rants against Hispanics couldn't get any lower.  BTW Terrell was found guilty of political bribery in an OK Court. While his case was pending, he quit the House to run for Cleveland County Commissioner -- boggles your mind.

Reading this article from The Journal Record this morning made me shake my head and then realized this anti-Muslim State Rep John Bennet, R-Sallisaw is a member of the Republican Party while I am now a Democrat -- received my voter card from the election board yesterday.  Now am no longer associated with the OK Republicans who spew so much hate.  Relief!

Does the GOP in OK want an all-white male Christian dominated state where women and minorities do what they are told?  Feel like at times Oklahoma has gone back over a hundred years and women and minorities need to fight for rights all over again.  We may have a Republican woman Governor but women's rights, higher minimum wage,  or education to name a few are not a high priority for Governor Mary Fallin who is a pawn of ALEC and is running for re-election.  

Read about this yesterday in both major newspapers but this morning's Journal Record's guest editorial summed it up the best:
Hamilton: Leaders must turn off the hate spigot
By: Arnold Hamilton Guest Columnist September 11, 2014

Regrettably, Oklahoma has a long, embarrassing history of elected leaders spewing hate, bigotry and crackpot theories. 
Gov. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray was rabidly anti-Semitic and pro-eugenics. Former state Rep. John Monks used an ethnic slur to deride Chinese. State Rep. Sally Kern declared homosexuality to be a greater threat to America than terrorism. 
Enter state Rep. John Bennett, the latest to secure a permanent spot in the Oklahoma Hall of Infamy. 
The Sallisaw Republican’s incessant attacks on Muslims is 21st-century McCarthyism, writ large – mean-spirited, broad-brush demagoguery that serves no purpose except to fan suspicion about 35,000 Oklahomans whose faith tradition is different than his.
Unfortunately, the voters in House District 2 have twice given Bennett a megaphone to spew his vitriol. He clearly isn’t exiting the public stage any time soon, despite a call for his resignation from the state’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leader. 
It’s a free country, of course. Bennett is welcome to display his inanity for all to see. But his (mis)conduct begs a broader question: Where are the state’s elected leaders? Where are the adults in the political room? 
Isn’t anyone going to stand up and set the record straight that Oklahoma is not an intolerant backwater full of John Bennetts? 
The problem is there are so many John Bennetts serving in the Oklahoma Legislature – by some estimates, two dozen or so in the House alone – that Gov. Mary Fallin, House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Senate President Brian Bingman are careful about crossing them. 
They inhabit seats of power because too many good-hearted, sensible Oklahomans don’t bother to vote, giving the parallel-universe, on-the-political-fringe crowd outsized influence on Election Day. 
Hickman isn’t entirely wrong when he says he can’t control what Bennett posts on Facebook. What Bennett says and does away from the House floor are his and his constituents’ business. Mostly. 
But Hickman and common-sense House Republicans – who ought to be concerned that their party’s image is soiled by such bigotry – are not without tools to curb Bennett’s worst excesses. 
The speaker, after all, determines committee assignments, whose bills are heard and whether a House member’s office is a broom closet far from the floor or a spacious room with a view. Indeed, the speaker determines whether a member is even recognized to speak on the House floor. 
More immediately, Hickman and Co. must take away Bennett’s megaphone – dissolve the so-called counterterrorism caucus. Make it clear no such thing exists any longer. Make sure there are no more anti-Muslim news releases financed by taxpayers via the House Media Division.  (my bold)
This is risky business for Hickman. Speakers can be deposed if enough of their caucus members so wish. Yet it’s even riskier for the state when its leaders refuse to repudiate such demonizing. 
Hickman inherited this mess. Bennett’s counterterrorism platform was a gift from former House Speaker T.W. Shannon – a political payback to wing nuts whose support was essential to Shannon’s narrow victory over Hickman in a previous speaker’s race.  (my bold)

Read more: The Journal Record
Decided to see what was on Google about Rep Bennett -- first thing I see is an article from the Houston Chronicle as this has now gone nationwide via AP with Gov Fallin and Speaker Hickman refusing to comment.  Their refusal to comment is no surprise as they want it both ways so they stay silent not to upset the hard right.  Took a good look at the picture of Bennet and in the background saw GOP Rep Mike Reynolds who is good friends with Sally Kern plus a few other things, e.g. think AF Academy.  He ran in the primary for Cleveland County Commissioner -- he lost for which many of us are very grateful.  Should have realized Reynolds was a member of that phony committee of the hard right on terrorism used as a carrot to help elect TW Shannon as Speaker of the Oklahoma House. Sole purpose of that Terrorism Committee seems to be to have a platform to spout their hateful rhetoric against anyone not a white male Christian.  

It all is making sense today.  For almost 18 years been telling everyone I know outside of Oklahoma that they would not believe OK GOP's hard right rhetoric and their platforms.  That hard right group who was a minority have taken over OK GOP -- now the whole world can see what is going on in Oklahoma is not that much different then Kansas where Brownback is Governor.  This hard right group of OK GOP has the ability to do to Oklahoma what Brownback and the hard right did to Kansas which has put Kansas in an economic tailspin not to mention tanking public education to stage where former Republican Governors have endorsed the Democrat against Brownback.
Okla. lawmaker, GOP chair affirm anti-Muslim postBy SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press | September 11, 2014 | Updated: September 11, 2014 8:14pm
Friday, April 12, 2013 file photo
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A GOP state legislator and the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party are standing behind anti-Muslim remarks the lawmaker posted to his Facebook page, and both said Thursday they have no plans to apologize. 
Leaders with several civil rights organizations have called for state Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, to apologize after he posted a comment to his Facebook page urging people, especially Christians, to "be wary of the individuals who claim to be Muslim-American." Bennett also said in his post that the Islamic holy book, the Quran, calls for the killing of non-Muslims. 
Adam Soltani, the executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the comments "inappropriate and offensive," and requested an apology. 
Meanwhile, Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston stood behind Bennett's comments and said they were accurate. 
"Everything John Bennett said is legitimate and there is no need to for him to apologize. One look around the world today, and 1,400 years of history, and you can see what he says is accurate," Weston told The Associated Press. "The thing I want to emphasize is that we have no quarrel with Oklahoma Muslims, but at the same point in time you have to acknowledge there are problems across the globe and throughout history with people who practice Islam."  (my bold)
Spokesmen for Republican Oklahoma House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Gov. Mary Fallin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  
Excerpt:  Read More at The Houston Chronical
There is only one solution for Oklahoma and that is for every last registered Democrat to go vote on November 4th to start turning Oklahoma back to common sense.  Now can see that Democrat Governor Brad Henry kept the OK GOP hard right in check with his alliance with more common sense GOP Speakers.  Since GOP Gov Fallin was elected with a Republicans taking statewide offices and adding even more to their numbers in the legislature, we have seen Oklahoma become more of a pawn of hard right and ALEC special interests along with oil and gas. Time for the Republican anti-education/infrastructure Party to get defeated.  There is a group of maybe 10 or 11 sensible Republicans in the House who will vote against the hard right agenda -- time for Democrats and sensible GOP to unite to form a coalition to support all Oklahomans not just special interests.

We can only take back this state to common sense if we all vote on November 4th -- time for Democrats staying home on election day is over.   Help save Oklahoma from following the path of Kansas!

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