As I'd predicted here more than once, Gov. Walker told the AP today he will sign a bill to make it easier for Wisconsin school districts to retain race-based names, mascots and logos that stereotype Native American people.
The AP says Walker sent a letter about it to the state's Native American tribes. I doubt he invited any of their representatives to the bill signing, which I assume will be private. If he did, the Bad River Band might bring up the massive open-pit iron ore mine that Walker and the naming-issue Legislative Bigotry Caucus also want to dig just upriver from the tribe's land and waters.
The measure Walker says he will sign also invalidates three previous name-changing orders directed to school districts by the State Department of Public Instruction under current law.
Race-based/race-baiting ex post facto. Maybe it's a new state slogan.
Walker's signature rewards a right-wing GOP voting base where "compassionate conservative" is a slur, but fearing his signature would further validate his brag as "the original Tea Party in Wisconsin," Walker cloaked his bill signing motives in a Tuesday Journal Sentinel interview with a mumbly-jumbly and preposterous civil libertarian charade:
He said he empathized with those who are offended by Indian team names, but cast the ability of schools to choose their team names as a First Amendment right.
"I get the concern" of opponents, Walker said. "But the counterbalance to that that I'm looking at is, by the same token, from a free speech standpoint...where do you draw the line on free speech?"
"While I may not like or necessarily approve of others' speech, where do you draw the line to say, 'It's OK to do things that you like but not that you don't?'" he said.Ah, yes. Walker the civil libertarian - - the guy who violated citizens' rights to assemble and speak on the State Capitol grounds. The self-important union buster who went to Congress and said with a straight face that his attack on 50 years of collective bargaining in Wisconsin was "progressive in the best sense of the word."
An attorney who backed the law which Walker's signature will overturn said this about Walker's First Amendment camouflage:
Milwaukee attorney Brian Pierson said he did not see the free speech concern raised by Walker. He helped defend the existing law in court.
"School districts are creatures of the state, bound to abide by state standards," Pierson said by email. "A school district doesn't have a First Amendment right to adopt an Indian mascot any more than it has a First Amendment right to adopt the swastika as school symbol or 'white supremacy' as school slogan."Walker's specious argument was further demolished by someone, unlike Walker, who actually works every day to ensure everyone's civil liberties - - the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin:
“This is a bogus appropriation of the First Amendment,” said Chris Ahmuty, the ACLU of Wisconsin’s executive director. “The governor apparently does not understand that the First Amendment protects citizens from government censorship. Government programs are not allowed to offend, harm or otherwise discriminate against citizens on the basis of the First Amendment. The First Amendment simply doesn’t apply when it’s the government taking action.”You can see in the Journal Sentinel Tuesday interview that Eagle Scout/preacher's son Walker was so anxious to fabricate a connection to the decent and moral side of the issue that he forgot he was actually Governor with the pivotal role to play when he said "If it were me, personally" - - well, Governor, today you personally are in charge!
And then ever so faintly and indirectly coughed up some empathy on the matter for "certain groups of our fellow citizens" whom his signature was sure to offend.
He even concocted a personal and family hook on which to hang a 'solution.'
Walker praised the way Wauwatosa East High School, where his sons went, handled the transition away from an Indian logo. He said he liked that it was dealt with at the local level.
In 2006, the School Board voted to get rid of Indian imagery and the "Tommy Raider" caricature of a brave for Wauwatosa East. The school kept the Red Raiders team name, trading in a logo that included arrows for one with a pair of crossed swords.What weakens that argument is that Walker offered no evidence that he took any leadership or played any role in the Wauwatosa East situation other than to read the letter than got sent home about it parents - - but still felt free to co-opt for his own political purposes a lucky break of geography and history.
Furthermore, Walker and his administration have consistently substituted state government power for local controls when suspending, overriding or diminishing local authority in collective bargaining, iron and sand mining regulation, wetlands preservation, shoreline protections and women's health care services, among others.
Rediscovering the local control talking point and sticking it to Native Americans is shallow, convenient hypocrisy; wrapping intolerance in the First Amendment is as shameful as adding the gubernatorial signature that embeds it into law.
Unintimidated becomes Unprincipled.
Wisconsin is Open For Bigotry.