I'm typically a Jack Betts fan. Yesterday's blog post, however, has left me extremely disappointed. Betts hints at racism in how Democratic leadership has treated Thomas Wright and then waits to the end of the post to back away. From Bett's blog:
House Speaker Joe Hackney’s announcement Tuesday afternoon that the Legislative Ethics Committee and the House will move swiftly to consider expelling Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, made some folks wonder: Why would the House move against Wright when it never took action against former Speaker Jim Black, now serving time in federal prison?
Notice Betts attributes this to "some folks", without getting too specific. Also notice that Betts posts his charge in the form of a question. Both of these are tactics that I'm pretty familiar with. It's convenient to be able to make an accusation or to float an idea and attribute it to nameless, faceless "folks". It's also convenient to make an accusation in the form of a question. Sure this phrasing might help you defend yourself if charged with libel, but it is also a way to conveniently dodge being honest with your readers.
In the second paragraph, Betts quotes Joe Sinsheimer in order to bring in the hypocrisy charge. It's amazing how a writer can avoid actually taking a stand by posing questions instead of making statements and by making assertions through attribution.
Jack, if you're going to write a blog, you need to own your assertions, charges and accusations. Do you agree with Sinsheimer that the leadership's actions are hypocritical? Do you agree with your "some folks" that the Democratic leadership could be treating Wright differently because of the color of his skin? THEN SAY SO and don't wait until the last paragraph to do it. It's your blog, Jack, you get to have an opinion.
Back to the post.
After laying out the charges against Wright, Betts gets to a more direct question of racism and finally answers that question in the negative.
The obvious question is whether there’s a different standard of treatment for a white speaker versus a black legislator who both were accused of felonies. The House didn’t any take action against Black while his charges were pending. Was it race?
In the South you can never totally discount that. But in this case, it’s more likely that House Democrats didn’t move against Black not just because he was their leader and in a position of power, but also because so many members were in his debt.
I'm sorry, say what? At least this time Betts is owning the accusation. Wow. Betts is linking "many" members of the North Carolina House to Jim Black and isn't telling us exactly which ones they are or how they are indebted. Gee, Jack, if you're going to link "many" legislators to a felon, you could at least give us a little more to go on.
Back to the racism charge.
First, Jim Black was never indicted. Thomas Wright was indicted. Jim Black resigned before entering a plea in court. Thomas Wright has refused to resign. Jim Black basically was the Democratic leadership. What was he going to do, ask himself to resign? Quite a few legislators publicly distanced themselves from Black.
Betts, is comparing tangerines to oranges. Close, but no cigar.
Second, the Democratic leadership took a beating over the Jim Black debacle. Might this explain why they aren't waiting for a jury to declare Wright guilty before taking action? Doesn't that sound reasonable?
Finally, Jack Betts needs to get out of his bubble. For him to say,
Was it race?
In the South you can never totally discount that.
is insulting. What a narrow minded, ignorant thing to say. Racism is found everywhere, not just in the south. There are many places in this country where racism is as easily found, if not more easily found. You can't count out racism anywhere and you shouldn't count it out, but you also shouldn't treat it so casually, that it is the first charge out of your mouth or off your fingertips when something happens to an African American.
Oh, and in my opinion, Joe Sinsheimer is just a wee bit tipsy on his own celebrity. Hypocrisy, my fat fanny.