The race for who will represent Mississippi in the United States Senate has gone to a runoff election, to be decided on November 27th. The remaining candidates are Mike Espy, an African-American Democrat who served as the Secretary of Agriculture in the Bill Clinton administration, and Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican who was appointed to the Senate seat by the Republican Governor of Mississippi, after the sitting Senator Thad Cochran resigned due to health issues.
Video has recently been released of Cindy Hyde-Smith meeting with constituents earlier this month. During this meeting, she decided to crack a joke about public hangings:
"If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row"- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith says in Tupelo, MS after Colin Hutchinson, cattle rancher, praises her.
Hyde-Smith is in a runoff on Nov 27th against Mike Espy. pic.twitter.com/0a9jOEjokr
— Lamar White, Jr. (@LamarWhiteJr) November 11, 2018
To defend her remarks, Cindy Hyde-Smith stated that the phrase she used was just a colloquialism meant to express how much she appreciated her supporter:
In her own statement Sunday, Hyde-Smith asserted that her remark was an “exaggerated expression of regard.”
“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”
Referencing a public hanging in order to express how much one regards an invitation to a speaking engagement by a supporter seems, well, a little bit strange in the 21st Century. However, in the context of a political race against an African-American opponent, it is pretty difficult to describe her comment as being merely a strange, outdated colloquialism. Rather, it seems a bit sinister, in large part because the Republican party has welcomed a troubling influx of neo-Nazi and white supremacists in recent years, many of whom ran in this year’s election while barely even attempting to hide their racist and bigoted views.
Some examples include:
Lou Barletta – Republican nominee for US Senate from Pennsylvania
Rep. Lou Barletta, an immigration hardliner running in a crowded US Senate primary in Pennsylvania, came in contact over the years with fringe organizations and individuals with views far outside the mainstream of American politics, a CNN KFile review of his public appearances over the past decade reveals.
Prior to serving in Congress for the last seven years, Barletta was the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he enacted tough measures to crack down on illegal immigration, including an act that allowed the city to impose fines on landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants and deny permits to businesses who employed them (the ordinance was struck down in federal court).
As mayor, Barletta did an interview with a fringe publication that promotes Holocaust denial and headlined a rally where a political activist and musician who has questioned the Holocaust and promoted conspiracies about the September 11, 2001 attacks also spoke and performed. As a congressman, Barletta appeared on a panel put on by the controversial Youth for Western Civilization and spoke at an event hosted by a journal that pushes extreme anti-immigrant views.
Ron DeSantis – Republican nominee for Florida Governor
The newly crowned Republican candidate for Florida governor apparently was one of 52 moderators of a Facebook group full of racist, Islamopobic, and anti-immigrant content. The group, which is named “Tea Party” (but not affiliated with any political organizations), has 97,000 members. Other admins of the group include Kelli Ward, the Arizona Senate candidate who lost her primary election yesterday, and Corey Stewart, the “neo-Confederate” running for Senate in Virginia, according to a Twitter thread by Media Matters reporter Natalie Martinez and reporting by American Ledger.
John Fitzgerald – Republican nominee for US Congress from California
Throughout the country, a record number of white nationalists and anti-Semites are running for election this year, many of whom have shown no signs of hiding their views. Among them is John Fitzgerald, who since winning enough votes in June to compete for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives this November has reportedly appeared on several neo-Nazi podcasts.
Matt Gaetz – Republican nominee for US Congress from Florida
The Anti-Defamation League wrote an open letter to Gaetz denouncing his choice to invite Johnson and urging the politician to cut ties with him. “It is an insult to the memories of those killed in the Holocaust, to their families, and to the Jewish community to bring to the State of the Union as your guest a Holocaust denier,” the group said.
Johnson, who was permanently banned from Twitter in 2015 after asking for help “taking out” a Black Lives Matter activist, denied the Holocaust in a 2017 Reddit Ask Me Anything. “I do not and never have believed the six million figure,” he said. “I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic.” Johnson also added that he thought the second world war was the result of “the efforts of communism to spread itself throughout the world”.
On Thursday, Gaetz insisted in an interview with Fox Business that Johnson was “not a Holocaust denier, he’s not a white supremacist”.
Seth Grossman – Republican nominee for US Congress from New Jersey
New Jersey Republican congressional nominee Seth Grossman used his Facebook account to share articles from well-known white nationalist websites, Media Matters reported Monday.
One article, published on the white nationalist website American Renaissance and shared in 2014, claimed that black people “are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”
“Oy vay!” wrote Grossman, who is Jewish, in his comment above the article. “What so many people, black, white and Hispanic, whisper in private. But which nobody dares say out loud in this once free country. Just posting this as an individual and not on behalf of any organization.”
Arthur Jones – Republican nominee for US Congress from Illinois
Jones, a Holocaust denier and self-described former leader of the American Nazi Party, won the nomination by running as the sole candidate in Tuesday’s GOP primary for the 3rd District outside Chicago.
Steve King – Republican nominee for US Congress from Iowa
A far-right Austrian political party whose leaders visited Washington last year to witness the Trump inauguration with Steve King caused a stir this week after proposing a law that would require Jews and Muslims to register with the government in order to purchase kosher and halal meats, respectively.
The proposal came from the Freedom Party of Austria, or FPÖ, which was founded in 1956 by former Nazis, including a member of Adolf Hitler’s SS, and in last October’s legislative election made major gains amid the wave of anti-migrant nationalism sweeping Europe.
It wasn’t King’s first encounter with FPÖ leaders. In October 2016, he traveled to Vienna to endorse Hofer’s candidacy, praising his anti-immigration platform. An Associated Press article titled “Austrian presidential hopeful meets US Trump backer,” translating a report from the Austria Press Agency, noted that King said “after meeting Norbert Hofer that Western civilization has to be defended and that Hofer speaks moderately but very clearly on this issue.”
Dana Rohrabacher – Republican nominee for US Congress from California
The publication noted that Rohrabacher, a California Republican, “brought along top aide Paul Behrends and conservative journalist Charles C. Johnson.”
Johnson, an internet troll and vocal “alt-right” defender, is well-known for false attacks against political rivals, both on the Democratic side and within the Republican Party.
He is also a Holocaust denier. In a since-deleted Reddit discussion, Johnson argued that the number of Jews killed in the camps was around 250,000, not six million, and questioned the existence of gas chambers. And while stating in the post that he is not a Holocaust denier, he wrote: “I agree with David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real. Why were their swimming pools there if it was a death camp?”
Corey Stewart – Republican nominee for US Senate from Virginia
When he was running for governor in Virginia last year, Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, made several appearances with Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who would soon organize the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. (Kessler has been charged in state and federal lawsuits with conspiring to incite violence at the neo-Nazi rally.)
Russell Walker – Republican nominee for North Carolina General Assembly
Walker’s website that touts his candidacy for the North Carolina General Assembly suggests a wide variety of claims about race, Jews and the Bible.
For example, on his website Walker claims:
What is wrong with being a white supremacist? God is a racist and a white supremacist. Someone or group has to be supreme and that group is the whites of the world … there is no such thing as equality. Someone or something has to be superior and someone and something has to be inferior.
Steve West – Republican nominee for Missouri House of Representatives
A Missouri Republican who has made anti-Semitic and other bigoted statements handily won a primary for the state’s House of Representatives.
Steve West, who promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on a radio show he hosts, defeated three other candidates Tuesday in the bid for a seat representing Clay County. He won with 49.5 percent of the vote; the second-place finisher had 24.4 percent.
“Looking back in history, unfortunately, Hitler was right about what was taking place in Germany. And who was behind it,” West said on KCXL radio in January 2017, The Kansas City Star reported Thursday.
Cindy Hyde-Smith may try to downplay her comment, but it would certainly be more effective if the voters of Mississippi chose to repudiate her comment at the ballot box.