I’ve been trying not to abuse the privilege of GeorgiaPol while running for a county commission seat in DeKalb. But I’m making an exception today because politics have taken a Hunter S. Thompson turn for the weird of late, and his ghost will burn my house down in my sleep if I do nothing.
DeKalb commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton, the human avatar of ethical challenges, appears to be about six weeks from being the first sitting commissioner to be turned out of office in about 25 years. Her primary opponent, Steve Bradshaw, beat her 48 to 42 last week. Runoffs tend to be unforgiving to the number two in a race around here.
Barnes-Sutton dropped a doozy in the direct mail carpet bombing attack we all survived last week. Never mind that he didn’t actually vote for George Bush, and that the thing about “hate groups” is complete nonsense. It’s hard to even call it a lie — though it is — because there isn’t enough truth value to a statement like it to matter. Which hate groups? When? Why? Even discussing it gives it more credibility than it deserves. Make the bastard deny it, right?
But the true gift of this evil thing is how it highlights the race of Bradshaw’s wife. She’s white. He’s black. They’ve been together for about 20 years, but no matter that. It looks to be aimed squarely at black women in the district, hoping to play off of racial anxieties about successful black men abandoning black women. It’s sleaze of the first water, shades of Jesse Helms in photo negative, and a sign of desperation. I have to wonder if she polled on it first.
A man whom I believe to be one of Barnes-Sutton’s sons — based on previous Facebook postings self-identifying as such — took to social media to reinforce the attack before the flyer landed on the weekend before the primary. He and I sparred a bit. I blocked him. And then a handful of plainly fake profiles took to reinforcing the attack. You can see it for yourself here, and here.
There’s something about staring defeat in the face that inspires racial idiocy in DeKalb politics. Vernon Jones did exactly the same thing a couple of years ago before getting slaughtered by Jeff Mann in the runoff, telling me to “stop drinking Clorox” and comparing me to Samuel Jackson’s house slave in Django Unchained. I took “Frank Sutton’s” nonsense and the sock puppetry as a sign of impending doom. And I was right — Bradshaw missed taking it outright by about 250 votes on 10,000 cast.
But I now wonder if they’re going to just nuke the field on the way out the door.
Bill Torpy wrote a column about the insanity of it all this morning. Sharon Barnes-Sutton’s political consultant, Toni Watkins, posted the following with Torpy’s column not long after.
I am asking all of you for your help in calling out this most egregious and most racist “journalist” at the AJC Bill Torpy.
He has made an attack of Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton saying that she is race baiting by posting a public picture of her opponent with his wife who happens to be white.
I am outraged that a middle aged white man has the gall to make a declarative statement that all black people MUST be racist and the Commissioner was clearly trying to play into the racist stereotype that Bill Torpy seems to have.
Please join me in lighting up the comments section in asking this white man not to think for you as a Black person, or any other demographic you may fall into should you be reading this.
If you are short on time, i Promise it will take you less than 90 seconds. login through facebook, create an anonymous username and just copy and paste this into the comments
“Bill Torpy Does Not Speak For The Black Community” or
“Bill Torpy Does Not Speak For DeKalb County”
An archived screenshot of it is here: http://imgur.com/vWkqhEl
Interestingly enough, Watkins is herself a self-described conservative Republican who has a (lightly-used) Twitter handle, @conservatoni. In a post for a third-tier conservative blog a few years ago, Watkins bemoaned the state of racial politics.
“In my entire life I have had to fight stereotypes, but always with white people. It is very new to me to fight stereotypes within my own race,” she wrote, adding that “(W)e have chosen to be the cookie cutter impressions of what we have been told to be. We are told we are an unintelligent people, so we don’t go to school. We are told we are a violent people, so we kill each other. We are told we are Democrats, so we vote Democrat.”
So … Barnes-Sutton’s people, Republicans, feel comfortable labeling their opponents as something less than pure Republicans … without cause, I note … then having the gall to try to complain about being called on it with a parade of fake profiles. And all this at the behest of someone who apparently believes her “(B)lackness” is called into question by my Black brothers and sisters because I have different political leanings than they.”
… while supporting a candidate who used this race-baiting advertisement for political gain.
I, and other good, honest people in this community, are at war with this kind of politics. And we’re going to win.