Updated: Jul 2, 2019
This past Friday, in yet another public episode of racists behaving badly, an East Haven Connecticut woman lost her job because of a racist rant in a grocery store. It was appalling, vile, disgusting and violent and the punishment, definitely fit the crime.
But when it comes to addressing similar acts of racist behavior and violence from our lawmakers, America has a largely “hands off” approach. But, If a Connecticut school employee can lose her job for violent, racist rants and comments, then why can’t a Congressman -- like Rep. Steve King (R-IA)?
Racist Attack Condemned
The viral video of the woman, identified as Corinne Terrone, sparked immediate condemnation and social media outrage for its vile acts, including spitting on a black man and woman in a Shop Rite supermarket and calling them the N-word, all in front of her children.
The incident apparently happened in the early afternoon on Friday and the video spread rapidly. Roughly six hours after the incident, Terrone’s employer, the Hamden Public School System, issued this statement:
“Someone who will use that sort of language in any setting, whether in public or private, is not someone we want anywhere near our children. The employee is separated from service and we hope that her children will receive the support they need after witnessing such a traumatic event.”
The statement was swift and definitive in condemning the school clerk’s behavior. Terrone is said to have resigned effective immediately once contacted by the school system and the mayor of Hamden, Curt B. Leng, who released the following statement:
“What I saw was vile and shocking. While I am disgusted and disheartened seeing such hateful behavior, wildly unacceptable anywhere, I am thankful for the swift, effective actions taken by our school system to address this head on and make clear that hate and violence will not be tolerated."
So the action against this hate-filled clerk was swift and certain and she lost her job. But it's not the same standard when it comes to Congressman King.
A History of Racist, Violent Comments
The Iowa Congressman on Saturday posted a meme (now deleted) of a mock civil war between the “blue” states and the “red” states with the following comment. “Folks keep talking about another civil war. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.”
It was the latest in a very long history of inappropriate public comments that include racism, xenophobia and violence. In fact, the Congressman in January, was stripped of his committee assignments after questioning why white supremacy was considered offensive.
Frankly, it’s surprising that any action was taken by House Republicans to rebuke King, given their propensity to ignore such remarks. And it was long overdue, but it wasn’t enough. Steve King, like Corrine Terrone, should also be stripped of his job.
At a time when we as Americans have accepted, and some even embraced, tribalism, racism and political divisiveness, we don’t need elected leaders who revel in spreading racist, xenophobic and violence-inciting messages. King’s abhorrent behavior has no place in the Capitol and frankly the people of Iowa and America deserve better and should demand that he resign from Congress immediately.
Steve King ultimately answers to the people of Iowa. In a perfect world, though, his “boss,” the people of Iowa, would be swift to condemn him and vote him out of his job. They’ll have that chance in 2020. Let’s hope he faces a similar rebuke to that faced by Terrone.
Stacy Fitzgerald is a Washington, DC area Gen Xer whose obsessions include politics, traveling and food and wine ventures.