State Representative Monique Davis, publicly attacking Rob Sherman, a local activist who she knew to be an atheist:
I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy — it’s tragic — when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. [...]
This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous [...] And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat! [... ]You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon.
Wow, what an asshat. (Via Friendly Atheist).
After a week of criticism, Davis phoned Rob Sherman, the man she attacked, and apologized. She still hasn’t apologized publicly (we only know of the apology because Davis reported accepting the apology). In my opinion, that’s not good enough. Rep Davis owes a public apology to all atheists — and a public recanting of the substance of her statements, as well.
Have I mentioned that Rep. Davis is Black? No? That’s because it’s not fucking relevant. What a shame that the atheist she attacked disagrees, and wrote:
Now that Negroes like Representative Monique Davis have political power, it seems that they have no problem at all with discrimination, just as long as it isn’t them who are being discriminated against.
Wow, what an asshat.
In the subsequent discussions, Sherman removed the word “negro” from his website, but also justified it like this:
[”Negroes” is] what the group was called when they were being discriminated against, but now that this same group has political power, discrimination is OK, as long as it’s not them that’s being discriminated against. That’s the reason for the use of the term.
Sherman later walked back even further. Oh, and did he mention that he has black friends?
I still thought, today, that Negro and Black were completely interchangeable with identical context, just as Caucasian and White, and automobile and car are. So, I called Jesse Jackson at his office at Rainbow/Push headquarters in Chicago to ask him about it. He and I have had several conversations over the years at VIP events [...] Rev. Jackson wasn’t available when I called, today, so I then called one of my many Black friends to confirm the validity of my perspective. [...] Clint told me that the only people, besides me, who still use Negro are racists who are trying to sound polite. Now I know. There was certainly no intent to act like a racist. I was mistaken when I thought that the words were fully interchangeable and have removed that word from this web site.
Did you catch that Rob has black friends? I think he wanted you to catch that point. And did he mention he knows black people?
A few points:
1) Rob’s backtracking makes no sense. If he specifically used the word “negro” because it is “what the group was called when they were being discriminated against,” then he clearly doesn’t think that “Negro and Black were completely interchangeable with identical context.” So that’s just bullshit.
2) Ridiculous, too, is his use of the phrase “when they were being discriminated against,” as if blacks don’t still face discrimination today.
3) Even if he had said “Now that African-Americans like Representative Monique Davis have political power, it seems that they have no problem at all with discrimination, just as long as it isn’t them who are being discriminated against,” that still would have been asshatish. Both because there’s no reason to bring up Davis’ race at all, and because Davis does not represent all black people.
4) Note that Sherman, unlike Davis, has refused to apologize.
I’d also recommend reading Mike Estes’ comments, quoted at Friendly Athiest.
(Curtsy to Doug and Ron, who discussed this issue briefly in an open thread.)