Increased attention given this week to the extreme views of Arkansas Republican legislative candidates raises the larger question of whether they are fair symbols of the whole party.
Absent repudiation by other party leaders, it's hard not to conclude that they are worthy representatives of the Republican Party of Arkansas.
To name but a few:
Republican Rep. Loy Mauch calls the Confederate flag a "symbol of Jesus Christ." He demanded, unsuccessfully that Hot Springs remove a statute of Abraham Lincoln from its convention center.
Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro has written a book full of incendiary statements, including this: "...the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise."
Former Republican legislator Charlie Fuqua, running for a House seat in the Batesville area, has also written a book, "God's Law: The Only Political Solution," in which he modestly proposes execution of repeat criminal offenders and expulsion from the U.S. of every Muslim.
This trio is not alone in the Republican cohort hoping to win a legislative majority in November, but these are the handiest with on-the-record quotes.
Is it fair to tar the party with their sentiments? I'd say yes. If money talks, the Republican Party has fairly shouted its approval.
Consider campaign contributions:
Steve Womack for Congress, $250
Saline County Republican Party, $500
House Minority Leader Bruce Westerman, $200
Republican Rep. Prissy Hickerson, $200
Republican State Rep. John Burris, $200
Republican State Rep. Les Carnine, $200
Republican Rep. Ann Clemmer, $200
Republican Rep. Robert Dale, $200
Republican Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, $200
Republican Rep. Jeremy Gillam, $200
Republican Rep. Lane Jean, $200
Republican Rep. Debra Hobbs, $200
Republican Rep. Kelly Linck, $200
Republican Rep. Andrea Lea, $200
Republican Rep. Terry Rice, $200 and $350
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, $100
Republican Rep. Karen Hopper of Mountain Home, $200
Republican Party of Benton County, $250
Republican Rep. Jane English, $100
Republican Rep. Andrea Lea, $100
Republican Rep. Jonathan Barnett, $250
Republican Party of Arkansas, in-kind contribution of $2,500 for voter contact
Republican House Leadership PAC, $2,000
Garland County Republican Party, $500
Repudiate these Republicans? Why would they? They ARE the modern-day Party of Lincoln. They are not alone.
"Play Dixie For Me" sounds like a good theme song for this movie.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
Kenneth Ryan James, speaking for U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, sends the following statement:
"While people have the First Amendment right to say whatever they want, the newly reported statements of Hubbard and Fuqua are ridiculous, outrageous and have no place in the civil discourse of either Party. Had I known of these statements, I would not have contributed to their campaigns. I am requesting that they give my contributions to charity." — Tim Griffin
It would be a bridge, too far, I guess for the U.S. representative from the 2nd District to distance himself from remarks scorning Abraham Lincoln, the nominal guiding light of his party. I asked James about that. He responded:
My understanding is that Griffin disagrees with Mauch on his interpretations of history, but he doesn't equate those beliefs with the statements of Hubbard and Fuqua.
That statement came before I unearthed some of Mauch's remarks in defense of the practice of slavery over the years and his vituperative remarks about Abraham Lincoln, a Nazi and Marxist in Mauch's opinion.