Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.
I know you didn't ask, but here's what I think about Ann Murray's apparent racism (and this will likely be the last post about the matter):
She's a bigot who finally apologized yesterday for using a racial slur only to try to save her miserable little political career.
In fact, I believe that Murray isn't just a racist -- she's a superracist.
Think about it. Sure, your average racist will use phrases like "nigger heaven" to describe rowdy upper-level seating at a football game. But they'll do it privately, usually with like-minded bigots. Murray said this while working as a supervisor in the extremely diverse School Board transportation department.
She said it to a fellow white school transportation supervisor who not only didn't share her views on race but was shocked at what she'd heard. On top of that, Murray said it right in front of several school bus drivers, who were also deeply offended.
The white supervisor told me that when she asked Murray what she had just said, Murray blithely repeated the offending phrase as if there were nothing wrong with it. Two witnesses said that Murray, when she realized she'd offended everyone around her, apologized and said she'd forgotten whose company she was in. One of those upset witnesses said Murray had used the word before.
[I'm not going to get in a big debate about the word itself and its use in rap music, etc. That's a big and complex debate that serves no purpose here. Bottom line: Ann Murray's use of the word in a derogatory fashion is a sign of racism, and no thinking person would deny that.]
What "company" did Murray believe she was in? That of her racist brethren? She just forgot where she was, and the real Ann Murray came trotting out for all to see.
Come to think of it, maybe she's just an average racist with below-average intelligence.
When I broke the story about the incident, for which Murray received a written reprimand, she refused to comment. When the Miami Herald followed the story, Murray again refused to comment, and the newspaper implied that she eluded a reporter when she "slipped" out a door immediately following a meeting. She also failed to return numerous phone calls from a Sun-Sentinel reporter regarding the incident.
Mind you, this from a School Board member who had promised transparency and to always address every issue with the media.
Indication of a guilty mind? I would submit that it is.
She issued an apology yesterday, saying she has the "deepest regret" for what she said. Murray (or more likely someone around her) wrote: "I ask the African-American community and all communities who suffer with the ugliness of bigotry to accept my sincerest apology. I pray for healing and forgiveness from those I have offended as we move toward a new chapter and forever close the old."
Nice try. The problem with that is that Murray, while on the road to contrition, had already played her hand. When activist Freda Stevens, who is black, called her on the telephone for an explanation, Murray was defensive and only dug herself deeper into the hole.
According to Stevens, Murray told her that she couldn't help what happened 400 years ago and asked Stevens to consider whether she has "black blood" in her own family. Stevens called it a "rant" and said that she was more convinced than ever after the phone call that Murray had a deeply held racist "mindset."
This is no small issue. Black students make up about 40 percent of the public school students in Broward County.
Radio host Steve Kane, of all people, helped put the issue in the proper perspective. From today's article in the Sun-Sentinel on the controversy:
Steve Kane, a former member of the diversity committee, came under fire when he let the N-word fly during a debate on affirmative action in front of 100 students at Deerfield Beach High School. During the discussion, he said people use the words "right wing" in a way that's just as insulting as the N-word.
On Tuesday, he said his use of the word was academic and not intended to cause offense. Murray's use of the word to describe the cheap seats at a football game, Kane said, was indefensible.
"They should fire this lady," said Kane. "I used the word to make a comparison and to make a point. This was just bigotry. I don't have it in me to use an expression like that."
Inside: What really should happen? Should Murray resign or be "fired"?
On the resignation issue, yes, of course she should step down.
But she won't do that, so that's a moot point.
Should she be fired or forced from office?
I hear people talk about putting pressure on the governor to remove Murray from office. My response is that such a thing not only can't happen; it would be a shame for the country if it did.
Murray has every right in America to be a racist. And she has every right as a racist to hold public office. The First Amendment protects her, as it should. That doesn't mean that people can't put pressure on her to resign or bring it up or protest or whatever it is they might want to do.
Yes, a Broward County public school teacher would almost surely be fired for making the same statement. But they are hired on the understanding that if they violate the standards of decency, their employment will end. Murray, a School Board employee when she made the comment, herself was threatened with firing for the incident but instead was given only a sharply worded reprimand. But School Board members, when it comes to their words and views, answer only to the voters.
So it will almost surely be up to them to remember this during her next election. That's how democracy works.