GOP Activist Compares Michelle Obama to a Gorilla

Via Michelle Obama Watch, a Republican activist decided that it would be funny to make a comment on Facebook comparing Michelle Obama to an escaped gorilla.

Commenting on a report posted to Facebook about a gorilla escape at a zoo in Columbia, S.C., Friday, longtime GOP activist Rusty DePass wrote, “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors – probably harmless.”

Busted by South Carolina political blogger Will Folks on his FITNEWS blog, DePass told WIS-TV in Columbia, “I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest.”

Then he added, “The comment was hers, not mine,” claiming Michelle Obama made a recent remark about humans descending from apes. The Daily News could find no such comment.

Well, the good news is that he’s sorry if he’s offended anyone.  Because gee, who would be offended by a white politician comparing a black woman to an ape?  Also, it’s not really his fault, because he based it off of something that she said!  Which she didn’t actually say, and which wouldn’t excuse the remark even if she did.

For those who need the help, there’s at least two things going on here.  The first is the racism inherent in comparing a black person with an ape, as has been done by white people to dehumanize and degrade black people for centuries.  The second thing is the fact that apes are traditionally associated with masculinity (you know, because masculinity is popularly if wrongly associated with hairiness and strength), and so DePass is also engaging in a rather age-old tactic of attempting to strip black women who have a feminine gender expression of that femininity.  This is a tactic which has been used against Michelle Obama specifically quite regularly.  And so we’ve not only got racism here, we’ve got sexist racism.

While I’m sure that the GOP will try to dismiss DePass as a nobody, and while he is indeed seemingly low on the Republican food-chain with regards to national politics, the fact remains that he is former chairman of the Richland County GOP.  It’s also worth noting that the current chairman is defending rather than admonishing him:

Eric Davis, the current chairman of the Richland County Republicans, said his predecessor should get a pass. “Everyone says stupid things they regret later. I think the world should move on,” he said.

In other words, even when Republicans have the opportunity to at least attempt to distance themselves from the racism within their own party, they don’t even see the need.

Renee has more.


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29 comments for “GOP Activist Compares Michelle Obama to a Gorilla

  1. June 15, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I think the worst part of DePass’ pseudo-apology is when he says “The comment was clearly in jest.” Guess what? I don’t give two fucks if it was in jest. I don’t give three fucks that this should have been apparent to me or anyone else. Adding “j/k” to a racist and sexist comment doesn’t make it a-OK. How ’bout I send an envelope to his office filled with white powder and a note that says “This is clearly not Anthrax.” The FBI is probably on their way to my house right now for just mentioning such an obviously side-splitting joke. Women of color don’t take chances that a White man is just kidding around when he uses age-old sexist and racist tactics against a woman of color.

  2. June 15, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Of course we should all move on. The only ones hurt by this display of racism is the black community so who gives a flying fuck anyway right? I swear shiit like this is exactly why POC die sooner.

  3. millsapian87
    June 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    This just in: Southern Republicans are racists.

  4. June 15, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Oh, for the love of…. How stupid ARE these people?!? How could that statement NOT be offensive, even to a dyed-in-the-wool Darwinist? (OK, it might be kind of amusing if the escaped critter was a lemur, which are *distantly* related to our branch of primates, but still….)

    Every time I think society might be evolving, I read something like this. Could the National Union of Political Handlers at least tell their charge that non-apologies like the one above aren’t fooling anyone?

  5. June 15, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    The racism that runs rampant through the Republican party keeps seeping through the Parties facade.

  6. Bitter Scribe
    June 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    He undoubtedly meant that Michelle believes in evolution, which means of course she thinks we descended from apes. It’s perfectly acceptable to call such a person an ape himself or herself, and if the person just happens to be black, well, that’s just an unfortunate coincidence. No racism there, nope, no way.

  7. June 15, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    The GOP now wants to make their racism (and sexism) more covert. Keep in mind that they post these kinds of things all the time on social networking sites now, making it somewhat easier to hide their racism and sexism from the public.

  8. Iggles
    June 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Wow, I that quote made me so mad. Literally, narrowed my eyes and clenched my fist. I’m so sick of these racist stereotypes. Yet another insecure, petty, hateful person who can’t stand to see anyone succeed who doesn’t share their skin color. UGH!!!!!

  9. John Swindle
    June 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    One good thing about this is that the Republican Party is keeping the public aware of the kind of people they are.

    Any success they might hope for would have to come about as a result of fooling at least some voters. With every stupid remark, every racist slipup, every homophobic campaign, they remind everyone of who they are.

  10. catfood
    June 15, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Interesting how people like Jeremiah Wright never get to “move along” after saying something controversial.

  11. June 15, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Rrrrgh, gritting my teeth.

  12. June 15, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Somehow I doubt that GOPers who dismiss this as a meaningless joke would do so if the same joke had been made by a Dem with Michael Steele cited instead of Michelle Obama.

  13. William
    June 15, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Tough talk from a man who so strongly resembles a penis.

  14. CartoonCoyote
    June 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    A Republican making a racist “joke”? Fucking hell, and I thought I was unshockable.

    It’s one thing to be dumb enough to think shit like that, and another thing entirely to be stupid enough to say it out loud.

  15. Irma Rambaran
    June 15, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    So, the sixties are not yet over. How sad. I guess two generations will have to pass before we see REAL Reformation.

  16. Gwrthryfel
    June 15, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I can’t imagine what it would feel like to have such constant public attacks on my person.

    The only other first lady I can think of (mind you, I am relatively young, at twenty-one) who has had insults hurled at her in this fashion is Hillary Clinton. But I don’t think it was unleashed so soon in her and President Clinton’s residency in the White House, as it was for Michelle.

    As a friend of mine put it when we were discussing this, “Maybe it’s just liberal first ladies with the temerity to act like people instead of wifeslaves?”

  17. June 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Bitter Scribe, are you serious or joking?

  18. Therese
    June 16, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Apart from the prutrid racist offensiveness that was obviously intended, this idiot is showing his ignorance of science and evolution. Humans ARE apes. That’s our scientific classification. So his “joke” is wrong. Also a gorilla is a cousin, not an ancestor. This is basic high school science.

  19. William
    June 16, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Bitter Scribe, are you serious or joking?

    It appears that your sarcasm detector is on the fritz.

  20. Colin Day
    June 16, 2009 at 3:18 am

    Sarcasm or not, I would like to point out to Bitter Scribe that we are not descended from apes, but share common ancestors with them.

  21. Bitter Scribe
    June 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    To Jaleesa and Colin Day: Yes, I was joking, and I am aware of the common-ancestor theory. I was just trying to put myself into the mind of a typical wingnut. A perilous undertaking, to be sure.

  22. CartoonCoyote
    June 17, 2009 at 12:31 am

    I was just trying to put myself into the mind of a typical wingnut.

    Whenever you finish doing that, I suggest a bath in undiluted Dettol afterwards to kill the stench and any germs you may have picked up!

  23. Marlene Minor
    June 17, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I am so so weary of these conservative rightist people who espouse their ritgheous beliefs, all the while harboring nastiness in their phyche. It is there or it would not come pouring out of their mouths so easily. I hold the belief that these sort of people have a pervasive mean, biggoted mind that they usually hide. I have worked for several men who present themselves as the “God-fearing”(whatever that means) family man, but sit in judgement of every patient they have. That is one reason why I left the Bible belt of Illinois. His rude and ignorant comment had a base. I think the fundamental reason for racism and sexism is fear and territorialism, and fear of loss of power. It’s all about the power. Also, this demonstrates that this mindset of racism is still so present, although much of the time skillfully hidden. Why should this comment be shrugged off? Deliver us from the “good” people!

  24. June 17, 2009 at 11:39 am

    What an ugly comment and a massively insufficient apology. The Michelle Obama Watch link you provided shares a more satisfying discussion and apology by the Mayor on behalf of the city. De Pass is a good example of a number of things wrong with the GOP.

    Another sign of regret that what I believe to be the most effective economic principle collectively, a left libertarian structure, is closer to the ethos of the Right (which has been lousy at carrying it out) than the Left. It would be nice to have a viable third party that provided a different choice.

  25. June 25, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    There we go: comparing a Black person to an animal.

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