Who is criticized the most? A look at the possible answers
A. It's not House Speaker Roger Hanshaw. The speaker is quoted in the article about allowing:
national level politics to become a cancer on our state, to become a cancer on our Legislature, to invade our chamber in a way that, frankly, makes me feel ashamed.
An interesting and irrelevant deflection from the problem at hand but Hanshaw is not criticized.
B. Nor is it Senate President Mitch Carmichael. Carmichael is quoted twice and praised twice despite being the ranking Republican in the legislature and the person who was ultimately responsible for what was on display at "Republicans Take the Rotunda."
C. Nor was it Governor Jim Justice. The governor is not mentioned in the editorial despite having walked around the exhibit earlier in the day. (That's according to Ogden's political reporter Steven Allen Adams.*) Obviously the governor's inaction certainly suggests that he was not offended by what he saw.
D. Republican Chairwoman Melody Potter is also not mentioned in the editorial even though everything I've read about the event puts her directly in charge of the exhibit. (As I documented in the previous post, she even appeared in a photo with the woman who ran the booth.)
E. And so the criticism in the editorial is reserved for Representative Ilhan Omar -- the person attacked in the display. From the editorial:
In reaction to the episode, Omar herself cited "the GOP's anti-Muslim display likening me to terrorist rocks in state capitols and no one is condemning them."
That was not and is not true, on two levels. Omar was engaging in naked misrepresentation for political purposes.
Project much? The editorial explains:
First, West Virginia's Republican Party organization had nothing to do with the poster and pamphlets. They were taken into the Capitol by a woman who said she was part of the ACT for America organization.
What a terrible argument. Who made the poster is irrelevant -- it was the Republican's space! Couldn't the Republicans have simply said "sorry, we don't allow racists at a Republican Party sponsored event." Obviously they could have -- but they didn't.
Second, condemnation was swift in coming and sweeping in scope. Both Republican and Democrat legislators joined in criticizing the display and expressing their disgust with the sentiments in it.
As any research on the actual event will suggest, this is the News-Register rewriting history. The earliest report from the Capitol that I found was from Dave Mistich at WV Public Broadcasting on Friday afternoon. In the legislature, Mistich first highlighted Mike Pushkin's (D - Kanawha) angry response. Then this:
Republicans who spoke on the floor about the controversy cited the First Amendment right to free speech. Del. Dianna Graves, R-Kanawha, was one of them.
“My issue with what I saw outside has to do with another truly American foundational issue and that's freedom of speech. So, while I may not agree with everything that is out there, I do agree that freedom of speech is something that we have to protect, even if we don't agree with it. Maybe especially when we don't agree with it,” Graves said.
Mistich then quoted Mike Caputo (D - Marion) and then back again to a Republican:
Del. Tom Bibby, R-Berkeley, also defended the display with the right to free speech but asked that the House move along to continue its proper business of the day.
“Freedom of speech is very dear and near to me. Let's hold it all within the House and, Mr. Speaker, we've got lots to do today. Let's move on,” Bibby said.
According to Mistich, Hanshaw's condemnation comes later in the day and Metro News's Friday report says "this evening." Ilhan Omar's tweet, which the editorial quotes, came at 5:44 PM. If you put it on a timeline, Omar's statement is accurate.
(Additionally, could someone please explain the First Amendment to Republican legislators.)
On Friday night, sensing the PR nightmare that was brewing, the Republican leadership began putting out the crap that's featured in today's editorial. "Swift in coming and sweeping in scope"? I don't think so. This is all about rewriting history to render the West Virginia Republican Party blameless.
*Did the editorial writer even bother to read Steven Allen Adams' Monday column in today's papers? Here's his conclusion:
This incident has left a black mark on the state Republican Party that will take a while to be erased.
Adams very critically responds to the Republican Party's and especially, Chairwoman Melody Potter's inaction on this. (Frankly, I'm surprised it was printed.)
Note -- editorial is currently not online.