GOP Congresswoman: Party Looking For “Great White Hope”

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)

Posted by Audiegrl

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins offered encouragement to conservatives at a town hall forum that the Republican Party would embrace a “great white hope” capable of thwarting the political agenda endorsed by Democrats who control Congress and President Barack Obama.

Rep. Jenkins: “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope,” Jenkins said to the crowd. “I suggest to any of you who are concerned about that, who are Republican, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic weighs in: Sarcasm aside, again, the problem is that Jenkins hails from a party that has, historically, scorned talk of “diversity,” believes political correctness has run amok, and thinks that the worst discrimination happens to white people. When you don’t practice talking to people who aren’t like you, you tend to not be very good at it. This didn’t mean much twenty or thirty years ago–Who cares about a few Negroes in Harlem or Atlanta?–but the country is changing. The GOP, as we all know, isn’t changing with it.

I can imagine some defense of the phrase “great white hope,” as a kind of generic tag. But any politicians whose spent a portion of their career talking to black people, who knows the racist history of the phrase, or has some inkling of what it means to have a first black president, would know that invoking the phrase is a bad idea.

All of that said, it’s worth noting that Rep. Jenkins apologized for her words–as opposed to apologizing “if anyone was offended by her words.” It’s a shame that we have to give people points for that.

James Jeffries during his fight with Jack Johnson

James Jeffries during his fight with Jack Johnson

When I first heard of this, the first thing that came to my mind was the 1970 movie “The Great White Hope” staring James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander. The movie was based on the 1967 award winning play of the same name written by Howard Sackler.

According to Wikipedia : The Great White Hope tells a fictional idealised life story of boxing champion Jack Johnson. Acting as a lens focused on a racist society, The Great White Hope explores how segregation and prejudice created the demand for a “great white hope” who would defeat Johnson and how this, in turn, affected the boxer’s life and career.

The first “great white hope” to accept the challenge was Jim Jeffries, who came out of retirement to fight Johnson unsuccessfully in 1910. Johnson’s title was eventually lost to Jess Willard, a white boxer, in 1915. There was, apparently, some controversy surrounding Willard’s win, with Johnson claiming he threw the fight. In part because of white animosity toward Johnson, it was twenty years before another African American boxer was allowed to contend for the world professional heavyweight title. In 1937, Joe Louis, greatly respected by both blacks and whites, defeated James J. Braddock, “The Cinderella Man,” to become the second African American to hold the world heavyweight championship title.

So in the end, I agree with Ta-Nehisi on this one. Rep. Jenkins is not guilty of racism, she is guilty of being tone deaf to the ever increasing diversity of America. The Republican party would understand the negative meaning of certain words and phrases, if when they looked out at their constituents they saw a sea of different colored faces. Their diverse constituents would educate them on what is acceptable and what is not. Until that happens, look for more embarrassing moments and apologies from the Republicans. It’s also interesting that Wikipedia has already added Rep. Jenkins comments to the page for The Great White Hope. So now she will always be linked to the phrase. Probably not what she wanted to be known for.

Trailer for The Great White Hope.
Author Jack London vs. Jack Johnson.


Filed under Media and Entertainment, Politics

16 responses to “GOP Congresswoman: Party Looking For “Great White Hope”

  1. I’m not so forgiving. I think she knew exactly what she was saying and why. Just like:

    Rep. Wally Herger, (R-Cali.) had hosted a town meeting during which he praised an attendee for declaring himself a “proud right-wing terrorist.”

    “Amen, God bless you,” Herger told the man, named Bert Stead. “There is a great American.

    • audiegrl

      Oh, I don’t forgive her either. But I feel bad that she doesn’t understand the country she lives in. Many of the GOP’s get into this trouble, because they behave as if they are in a time warp. Maybe that is why they keep saying they want their country back. They are obviously talking about the 1950’s version of American that only exists in their heads. 😉

  2. p.s.

    wow, Nice post!

  3. Jenkins said to the crowd. “I suggest to any of you who are concerned about that, who are Republican, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington.”

    OK, I’ll be the one to say it. I think Jenkins was really thinking, “there are some great young WHITE Republican minds in Washington.”

    And AudieGrl, don’t feel bad! You are the enlightened one! It is Jenkins’s responsibility & duty to her country to understand her constituents’ issues. If she wants her country back she should watch re-runs of Father Knows Best or The Donna Reed Show.

    • audiegrl

      You’re right. I just think that they are so used to having a closed tent party, that they don’t realize that they are digging their own graves. The numbers just don’t support the direction they are going. There are not enough of them to win a National election. And the numbers are trending in the opposite direction to where they are going. They have got to realize that having Michael Steele as their RNC chairman, does not make them a party open to diversity. Steele has actually said worse thing than this. He said they were opening the tent to include minorities. He said he was going to do it with ‘fried chicken and potato salad”. WTF? You just can’t make this stuff up! 😉

      • Sometimes I find the behavior of other humans quite shameful. Just as Philip K. Dick encouraged readers of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” to contemplate their own humanity. People are effing ridiculous. There is no other explanation. Unless WE are the humans and THEY (the wingnuts) are the androids. Hmm… they have mastered the ability to desensitize themselves from societal woes and erase all sense of emotion from anything that does not remotely resemble a gun or a woman’s womb. I think I’m onto something here…

  4. audiegrl

    You’re going to love this one…

    Rex Rammell, Idaho GOPer, Jokes About Hunting Obama

    Rex Rammell, a former elk rancher slated to run against incumbent C.L. “Butch” Otter in the May 2010 GOP primary, made the comment at a Republican rally Tuesday in Twin Falls where talk turned to the state’s planned wolf hunt, for which hunters must purchase an $11.50 wolf tag.

    When an audience member shouted a question about “Obama tags,” Rammell responded, “The Obama tags? We’d buy some of those.”

    Rammell told The Associated Press Thursday he was just being sarcastic and sees no reason to apologize for the comment.

    • I guarantee someone will be selling “Obama Tags” on Ebay any minute now.

      “Just a joke” just don’t cut it… and he feels compelled to add “I would never support him being assassinated”

      another WTF??

      • audiegrl

        Somebody in the Republican party or our wonderful MSM (except Rachel, Keith, and Ed) need to speak out against this type of talk, before somebody gets hurt. This is no joking matter, and they can wink and nod all they want, but this is just dangerous.

        This is the same type of language they used against MLK, they de-humanized him to the point that some nut finally picked up a gun. They are playing with fire.

  5. Bluedog89: you’re a great addition to 44-diaries!

  6. cutting through the fog Olberman says to Rep. Jenkins:

    “why don’t you just get a hood”

    it was not inadvertent it was not harmless…

  7. ogenec

    AG, great post! Republicans are fomenting violence, pure and simple. And thanks for linking to Ta-Nehisi – I love his writing.

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