Friday, July 18, 2008

Milwaukee County Board Chair Supports A Sales Tax Increase: Does That Make Him A "Thug?"

At least one self-described "hard-boiled" righty blogger can't stop playing the race card.

That's the only conclusion you can come to when "Thug" - - a word that worked itself into the local vocabulary following particularly violent crimes, and especially during former Ald. Michael McGee's legal troubles - - suddenly becomes Holloway's middle name, too.

Apparently on at least one right-wing blog from the south Milwaukee suburbs - - and so far I'm not seeing anyone on the conservative side of the blogosphere take the race-baiter to task - - Holloway's 'crime' was supporting a sales tax increase, in a public policy debate, at the Milwaukee County Board.

Which he chairs, as the Supervisors' elected leader.

In other words, where he does his job.

Yes, readers outside greater Milwaukee and beyond, this is part of the heavily-racialized public debate that is endured here.

The blogger, "No Runny Eggs" [yes, that is the blog's name], wrote this:

"Charlie Sykes has the text of a press release from Milwaukee County Board Chair Lee “Thug” Holloway purporting to claim that, even with a 1-percentage-point increase in the sales tax in Milwaukee County, it would still be “cheaper” to shop in Milwaukee County than in surrounding counties."

Despite the way that the "No Runny Eggs" wrote the item, Sykes did not use the "Thug" word when he criticized Holloway's tax increase plan on the"Sykes Writes" blog.

So is every politician who ever supported a tax increase now a "Thug" to the Right?

Former Pres. George H. W. Bush raised several taxes during his Presidency. It helped cost him re-election, but does it make him a "Thug?"

Where does that leave Scott Jensen and Tommy Thompson, Republicans who supported the long-standing, and thankfully-ended automatic annual cent-a-gallon state gasoline tax increase?

Or how about Holloway's white sales tax increase allies on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, like John Weishan, Jr., or my Supervisor, Gerry Broderick?

What about Milwaukee Alderman Bob Bauman, lead sponsor, with plenty of white aldermanic supporters, of a plan to fix City of Milwaukee streets with the proceeds of a new wheel tax?

Are all those current and former elected officials "Thugs"...or is that term just reserved by certain righty bloggers - - with the silent assent of others - - to describe African-American politicians they don't agree with?

[Update: Google informs me that "No Runny Eggs" has attacked "Lee "Thug" Holloway before. What an embarrassment for our County.]


krshorewood said...

Yet another example of where the right which includes the blogs, Sykes and Belling have cheapened the political discourse in this area and only provides a way for certain adults to act out.

Anonymous said...


Holloway has proven to be a less than savory character who, according to press reports, bullied his fellow supervisors, pushed them and threatened them with physical violence.

Then there is his stellar record of protecting his tenants' rights while being their diligent landlord...

A lot of people would argue Thug is an apt description.

The right hasn't cheapened the political discourse here. The left has enabled this individual to remain in power despite his obvious (let's be charitable) personal/ethical shortcomings.

James Rowen said...

Brian: I recognize all of Holloway's failings.

That said, the term crosses a racial line that shouldn't have been approached, and offers nothing to a real analysis of Holloway's service, or to the political debate in general.

I am disappointed that you couldn't be the voice of reason on the conservative side of the blogosphere.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Keith giving a lecture about cheapening political discourse is rich...

Anyway, did I miss the memo where 'Thug' was deemed to be a racial term?

You are aware of Holloway's shortcomings but think 'Thug' is not an apt descriptor. Fair enough. But to say it's racial? That's a stretch and one that I, frankly, don't think Steve at No Runny Eggs intended.

Of course, I can't say definitively whether or not Steve intended to have racial overtones with that word.

And, James, neither can you.

But I can definitively say that when I think of the term 'thug' I envision a bully, not a black man.

James Rowen said...

Get some rest this weekend, Brian. It'll help you shake off that state of denial you lapsed into.

James Wigderson said...

How can "thug" be a racial term? It comes from India, and originally referred to a murderous cult. Heck, considering they were anti-imperialists, instead of seeing "thug" as a racial epithet perhaps the left should celebrate it as a term of endearment.

This is as stupid as the "black hole" debate earlier this week.

James Rowen said...

I know the origin of the word, Jim. We're talking contemporary usage. So you and Brian are now living in the same state of Denial.

Getting crowded over there.

James Wigderson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Rowen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

The first definition in the dictionary for the word thug is:

a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.

Lee Holloway has physically attacked two County Board members... that is where he first got the Thug nickname, it is dead on accurate!

Patrick said...

Let's also remember that the mayor is a racist too:

“Some gutless thug decided he would solve his problem by shooting a 4-year-old girl. What a tough guy. He can brag about that to all of his buddies that he took out a 4-year-old girl.”
-- Mayor Tom Barrett: after the murder of 4 year old Jasmine Owens

Patrick said...

One other pesky fact... Mike McGee called himself, Thug Mike.

Jamie Gunn said...

Could you please enlighten us with the modern contemporary definition of the word "Thug"?

James Rowen said...

These parallels some of you are drawing to Mike McGee, Jr., or to people being sought for murder, only prove my point.

You are throwing the term around where it is not accurate, and the referencers all seem to be mention other African-Americans.

The commenter asking for contemporary usage for the word is directred to the post linking to the Atlanta Constitution discussion about the racializing of the word.

The blogger who initially referred to Holloway as a thug mentioned it the sales tax context.

Not the incidents where Holloway behaved badly, but was not charged criminally, and which some of you have, after-the-fact, boot-strapped into the debate to make the word's use justfiable.

Anonymous said...

"Thug" is not a racist term unless left-wingers like Rowen want it to be, simply to create controversy or issues where none exist.

I most often hear the word "thug" in the sports world, dealing with athletes who are bruisers or enforcers in play. This is a while ago, but Milwaukeeans will remember referring to white man Bill Laimbeer of the Detroit Pistons as a thug on the basketball court. Head-hunting hockey players are often referred to as thugs, and we all know how many African Americans play hockey. Thug is also a term I've seen associated with mob enforcers - stereotypically Italians, not African Americans.