COLUMBIA — What box should Gov. Nikki Haley check when it comes to her race?
The South Carolina Democratic Party tried Thursday to make Haley out as a liar for checking “white” as her race on her 2001 Lexington County voter registration application.
But the application had no specific option for “Indian.” Her options were “white, black/African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or other.”
The governor stayed silent on the matter, although her allies accused the Democrats of the lowest-grade politics: race-baiting. Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, has never emphasized herself as South Carolina’s first female and minority governor and the country’s second Indian-American governor, but it has earned enormous national notoriety.
Todd Shaw, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina and an expert on African-American studies, said deciding what box to fit a person in is a very Southern concept. To him, race is a matter of self-identification, or allowing a person to check the boxes that may apply.
“I always expect political parties to be political,” Shaw said. “I think what is just as interesting is that it draws all of us into the fight: ‘This is what we really understand this person to be.’ Are you who I say you are or who society says you are?”
Dick Harpootlian, the Democratic Party chairman, said whether Haley listed her race as white or not doesn’t matter to him. The point is, he said, that the governor has a pattern of twisting the truth.
“Haley has been appearing on television interviews where she calls herself a minority — when it suits her,” Harpootlian said. “When she registers to vote, she says she is white. She has developed a pattern of saying whatever is beneficial to her at the moment.”
Er, and Haley checking “white” on her voter registration form would be benefit her in exactly what way, Mr. Harpootlian?
Bryan Preston unloads:
I don’t think those boxes and racial classifications belong in our modern republic at all, and I say this as half of a mixed marriage myself. But in the case of the one Hailey checked, she’s of Indian ethnicity, but that wasn’t an option on the piece of paper. What was she supposed to do, Dick?
The notion that this would even be a salient issue in Dick’s mind says quite a lot about him, and what he thinks of his own party faithful who elected him. He thinks something this stupid and transparently racist will rile them up against Nikki Hailey? Then he has even more contempt for them than I do (and that’s saying something).
This, by the way, is not the first time Democrats have attacked an Indian-American who happened to be a Republican on the basis of race. When Bobby Jindal was running for governor of Louisiana, the Louisiana Democrats ran around calling him “Piyush.” That’s his given name, but he hasn’t gone by it in years — he has been known as “Bobby” from the time he was a kid. That racist attack failed; hopefully the South Carolina Democrats’ racist attack will fail too.
This also isn’t the first time South Carolina Democrats have shown themselves to be full blown wackos. Remember the SC Dem establishment’s reaction to Alvin Greene’s winning of the Democrat nomination for US Senate (where he took on the GOP’s Senator Jim DeMint?). Here were some of the high-, er, lowlights:
Read both posts for insane quotes from SC Dems on Greene’s nomination.
There’s “stupid” and then there’s “South Carolina stupid.” I’ll let readers decide which category they think Harpootlian best fits into. Pretty obvious, don’t ya think?