Yesterday morning, our good friend Stefan was apparently honored by the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle for his work as a volunteer tutor in the Urban League After-School Program. I applaud Stefan for his volunteerism; I myself do the good parent thing as a volunteer in my daughter’s school… and I can’t tell you how desperate the need is for more parents and community members to get involved. So, thanks Stefan.
I’m having a little cognitive dissonance problem here. I don’t mean to diminish Stefan’s admirable volunteer work, but surely an organization like the Urban League — dedicated to empowering African Americans — could have found some equally admirable volunteer to honor… who has not repeatedly gone on the record making racist comments about King County Executive Ron Sims, our state’s most prominent African American elected official. Take a look at the League’s mission statement:
The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle strives to empower, enable and assist African Americans, other people of color, and disadvantaged individuals in becoming self-sufficient through public advocacy, providing services and developing strong business and community partnerships.
And yet, the man they honored yesterday has repeatedly and shamelessly compared Sims to the brutal African dictator Robert Mugabe.
I was taken aback the first time I saw the Mugabe line on Stefan’s blog, but maybe it’s just my liberal, white man’s guilt. So I thought I’d inquire about Sims’ own personal feelings on the matter, and through a spokesman I was assured that Sims is deeply offended by the Mugabe reference, and clearly understands it to be racist. Furthermore, he was shocked and disappointed to learn that the League would honor a man who publicly makes such racist remarks, and Sims has since made his feelings clear to Urban League president James Kelly.
Now, Stefan clearly believes he is not racist — he told me so himself, at which time he also made clear how offended he was at my insinuations to the contrary. But his repeated use of the Mugabe line not only shows a stunning lack of empathy for the sensitivities of others, but a complete and total disregard.
It is possible for a person of good will, through their own cultural isolation, to inadvertently make remarks that others might perceive as racially offensive. The appropriate response is to apologize, move on, and ask for others to judge you on the whole of your character, rather than a single incident. But Stefan has repeatedly been told by me, by the MSM, and by his own readers, that the Mugabe reference crosses the line… and yet he continues to cross it. Stefan, who was quick to take offense at an anti-semitic sleight in one of my comment threads, could apparently care less that the target of his Mugabe slur clearly perceives it to be racially motivated.
So, how are we to judge Stefan’s character? I’m not one to criticize a blogger based on the contents of his comment threads (mine are often hateful), but given the level of invective spewed over on (u)SP, I wonder how many of his readers share the same sentiment voiced in this comment, which actually criticizes Stefan for his volunteer work:
If it was the horse’s ass receiving an award from a hateful “civil rights” group’s dinner, you be all over him as you should be. I guess it’s ok for Republicans to support hate-mongering racial causes if they are from Seattle. No wonder Seattle is such an Island of goofies–even the “conservatives” seem to be sniffing glue. Sing koombaya for me, Shark. this is a disappointment. These people want to defeat us.
Surely, some of Stefan’s defenders will attempt to use his Urban League award as an inoculation against charges of racism, but his words speak clearly. Ron Sims has now gone on the record stating that he personally finds the Mugabe reference to be racially offensive; if Stefan continues to use it, he will prove to his readers that he has no compunction about throwing a racial slur at the highest elected African American official in the state. And that will speak for itself.