The Pall Otter Cast over Idaho's "Human Rights Day"

On Monday Otter declared in his state of the state address that "we're all in this together" as he addressed an audience of mostly white middle aged men. While failing to mention any cuts in his salary, or even his administration, he proceeded to announce a systematic dismantling of the Human Rights Commission, the State Independent Living Council, the Developmental Disabilities Council, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission, the Hispanic Commission, and Idaho Public Television, stating “These changes are meant to be permanent – based on a philosophy of government that recognizes our responsibility to individual Idahoans rather than to government itself”.

WTF? This country fought a civil war for human rights. Even then, equality in practice proved an elusive dream without government intervention, such as the passage of constitutional amendments XIII, XIV, and XV, various Civil Rights Acts including 1957 and 1964, nearly a century after that war as well as Supreme Court intervention provided by Brown v. Board of Education. And the fight for human rights continues to this day.

Homogeneous Idaho has a lamentable history as a haven for white supremacists. While there was no state affirmative action, it took court action to rid ourselves of the Aryan Nations compound in North Idaho. Most of Idaho rose up and stood against the hate white supremacy peddles. And Idaho's Governor's led the charge even creating a new catchy slogan to help re-brand Idaho as "too great to hate". They recognized racism must be vigilantly confronted.

While many proclaimed racism dead after the election of our nation's first black president, racism is far from gone in Idaho. The right wing tea party movement is led by and attracts many who harbor racist notions. The teabagger movement's rhetoric and Obama Derangement Syndrome thinly veils an underlying racismproviding optimism to those who hope for a supremacist resurgence. Indeed there's been a marked rise in racist attacks nationwide. And Idaho is not immune from this alarming trend with recent incidents here, here, here, and here.

Last year Governor Otter proclaimed January 19, 2009 "MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. IDAHO HUMAN RIGHTS DAY" observing that "the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Idaho’s commitment to human rights are worthy of reflection and serve as a reminder that improving the quality of life for all members of society is everyone’s responsibility". That commitment apparently doesn't extend to government protection against discrimination. Some say that your true values are shown by what you choose to save on a sinking ship. And instead of bailing water by finding other revenue sources, Otter's throwing things overboard he thinks we don't need. Otter views human rights as expendable. This will be Otter's shameful legacy. And Idaho will earn a new slogan.

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As Debbie notes down the page, there a tea bagger march scheduled at the same time as the MLK march. And Betsy finds a further mash up of contradiction scheduled for Monday. Could be fun.


Good work, and welcome aboard.