Monday, July 06, 2009

On the Heroism of Cassie Wallender

Republicans historically have been known as the Party of Lincoln, the party that freed the slaves. Of course, in recent history that legacy has been tarnished by a long string of politicians and GOP leaders that have said things that can only be seen as bigoted.

The recent story of Young Republican candidate Audra Shay responding to a racist comment on Facebook is but the latest sad story. Audra is running for the leadership of the Young Republicans and hopes to be elected on Saturday. Her recent reaction to an incredibly racist comment is enough for me and I hope for those attending the national convention of Young Republicans in Indianapolis, to NOT elect this woman for leadership.

But instead of focus on the follies and sins of Ms. Shay, I think there needs to be praise given to one woman for standing up to such prejudice. Cassie Wallender, a chairwoman of the Young Republicans in Washington State responded to Ms. Shay on Facebook. She called Shay on her response. The following account comes from writer John Avalon:

Cassie Wallender, a national committeewoman from the Washington Young Republican Federation, then wrote: “Someone please help a na├»ve Seattle girl out, is Eric’s comment a racist slur?” She answered her own question one minute later: “Okay, why is this okay? I just looked it up. ‘It comes from a term baracoons (a cage) where they used to place Africans who were waiting to be sent to America to be slaves.’ THIS IS NOT OKAY AND IT’S NOT FUNNY.”

Wallender wrote a letter to the national committee of Young Republicans sharing her concerns:

I continue to hold that stating “You go get ‘em” and “LOL” to racist remarks are not acceptable for YRs. Her continued inappropriate responses to the situation and utter lack of an apology are quite disconcerting. I do not want to see infighting as we are all on the same team ultimately, but this is unacceptable especially from any of our elected officers. Even despite the red flags of spin pointed out above, and giving Audra the benefit of the doubt regarding racism, at the very best this was extremely poorly handled by turning it into a political attack on people completely uninvolved and by showing allegiance to those making racist statements while choosing to squarely turn her back on those speaking against racism.

All in all, this is a plea to my fellow National Committee Members to look at how this was handled and decide in your own heart and mind if this was appropriate, and if this is how we want to be represented to our country.

A note of thanks has to go to Cassie for standing up and speaking out. She could have kept her concerns to herself, kept her head down and ignore the issue. Instead, she spoke up.

Some of my friends on the Left assume that all white Republicans are racists. I know that is not the case, but rarely have we seen whites in GOP speak with such courage in the face of hate.

The GOP needs more Cassie Wallenders. They need women and men who stand up for inclusion. They need people to carry the banner of Abraham Lincoln and uphold long held Republican traditions of equality.

Audra Shay had a chance to be brave in the face of hatred and failed miserably. Cassie Wallender is hero for confronting bigotry.

Kudos to you, Cassie.

1 comment:

ModerateOHGOP said...

Thank You Dennis for writing this. I think it is important to recognize what Ms. Wallender did not only for the Young Republicans but for the Party as a whole. For so long the GOP has been labeled as a political home for racists and/or bigiots. It is important that we stand up to bigotry and racism inside our party and our country.

I find it shameful that Ms. Shay used this moment to try and turn the issue around as a political attack. Some things are personal and not political. Ms. Wallender stood up personally and not politically. She stood up to the racist and bigioted comments that Ms. Shay did nothing about.

I dont know much about the YR election. Hell I didn't even know there was a YR election. But now I know that I will be paying attention to the election results on 7/11 to see if the YR's go down and choose a leader who cant stand up for dignity and respect.