Had insurrectionist Tommy Tuberville given the same white supremacist speech in Winston County, Cleburne County, Marion County, Blount County, Lamar County or Cullman County, Alabama— where almost every single person is a KKK member or sympathizer— it probably wouldn’t have been picked up by the media but he gave the speech as one of the opening acts at the MAGA rally for Adam Laxalt, Michele Fiore, Jim Marchant and Joe Lombardo in Minden, Nevada (an old sundown town south of Carson City desperately trying to bury it’s old reputation as one of the most racist towns in the West.
Referring to black people, the most divisive and virulently racist member of the U.S. Senate told a like-minded MAGA crowd, “They're pro-crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparations because they think that people who do the crime are owed that. Bullshit! They’re not owed that.” Watch the video above that includes both Tuberville’s remarks and reactions from the State of the Unions guests, 3 of whom were African-Americans. In fact, Bakari Sellers’ reaction was pretty brilliant:
Tommy Tuberville can go to hell. And let me tell you why. He made tens of millions of dollars off unpaid black men as a football coach. He literally has the stature he has because people went out there and assumed the risk and incurred the risk of concussions, playing hard and everything. And then for him to give these racist tropes, I mean, it infuriates me. But this is a large swathe of the Republican Party that they have to deal with that they have never done.”
Nina Turner followed: “The ‘they’ just flat out… he's talking about black people. He should man up and say it. American descendants of slaves do deserve reparations in this country. They absolutely do. But for him to equate a whole group of people as being criminal… you know what's criminal? Allowing people to languish in poverty, not supporting policies that will lift people up. That is what's criminal.”
Not Laxalt, not Marchant not Lombardo and of course not Fiore, who's as much a vile swine as Tuberville, has disowned Tuberville's racist remarks.
The Philadelphia Inquirer had a Will Bunch column up on Tuberville early this morning. "In the morally downhill midterms of 2022," he wrote, "there are dog whistles ... and then there are just whistles. Nowhere is that more obvious than a place called Minden, Nev.— a small town near the California border where Donald Trump brought his traveling dog-and-pony show on Saturday night, exactly one month before Election Day. Amid the political cacophony and nonsense that accompanies The Former Guy— at 6 p.m. Pacific, to be precise— the rally attendees probably heard it: a loud siren, coming from the direction of the fire station downtown. The practice began in the 1920s— not coincidentally, heyday of a Ku Klux Klan revival in America— and heralded the so-called sundown laws in Minden and surrounding Douglas County that required locals belonging to the native Washoe Tribe to get off the streets at night, or else be arrested.
“Skins, it’s time to go home,” an 82-year-old member of the Washoe People named Wyatt Vernon recalled in a 2020 article. “Get out of town.” The “sundown law’ was finally repealed in the 1970s, and yet Minden never stopped blasting the whistle at 6 p.m., alternately claiming it’s an emergency test or else copping to a warped historical tribute. Said the Minden town manager J.D. Frisby: “There’s a lot of sentimental feelings nostalgic to that siren.”
It must have been 6 p.m.— metaphorically, if not actually— when first-term Alabama GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville took the stage at Saturday’s Trump rally, encouraging voters to go Republican in Nevada’s neck-and-neck Senate election which may decide who controls that body in 2023. Tuberville surely drowned out the noise from the fire station with his own six-alarm siren appeal to voters’ darkest instincts— taking the greatest hits from a Republican fall campaign that has increasingly fallen back on racist fearmongering and making it much, much worse.
…“I’ve watched and listened to A LOT of old George Wallace speeches,” Tom Moon, a columnist for Alabama Political Reporter, wrote on Twitter. “You’d be hard pressed to find many that were worse than this. In 2022. Just disgusting.”
Tuberville’s Minden speech was so blatantly racist that— just a few short years ago— it’s easy to imagine at least a few Republican Party elders condemning it. But on this Sunday morning in October 2022, the silence so far has been as loud as that Minden fire siren. A political party that weeks ago was in full panic mode after its overreaches on the Supreme Court and abortion rights had energized young and women Democrats has now found its footing with the same appeal to white supremacy as the “nostalgia” for an era of “sundown” laws.
…To be brutally honest, Tuberville is a mediocrity who— whatever you think of his mixed record as a football coach— got to his lofty Senate perch more on his whiteness than any claim to merit. In winning that 2020 election, he rode that white privilege to beat one of those decent, forward-looking Alabamians— Doug Jones, who courageously revived the case and prosecuted the KKK goons behind the 1963 church bombing that killed four Black girls— of the kind who’d given me hope back in the 1980s. But it turns out those whistles from our racist past— and present— that still ring at 6 p.m. are much harder to silence than I could ever have imagined.