Have you ever been in the middle of an interview on a globally-broadcast radio show and realized you just said something that, from a certain perspective, probably sounded boneheadedly racist? Have you ever then watched in horror as your public profile was dragged through the gutter and you were stripped of your title in a political organization you've loved and labored in for years? No? Me, neither! But that's the experience Bob Schlein, the just-sacked head of the Dallas Log Cabin Republicans.
Here's what happened: In September, he published an essay in the Dallas Voice entitled "Why I will vote Republican in 2012." The essay earned him an appearance on the Michelangelo Signorile Show on Sirius XM Radio (where, full disclosure, I'm a guest news anchor), where the two men briefly argued about non-discrimination laws. Schlein thinks they're pretty useless. At some point, these words were exchanged (as transcribed by Signorile's people):
Schlein: Texas is a right to work state. So as an employer, which I am, I can fire anyone at will, there’s no such obligation.
Signorile: You can’t fire someone for being black —
Schlein: I can them for whatever reason I want —
Signorile: You cannot fire someone for being African-American…
Schlein: Well, I wouldn’t tell them…
Signorile: Well, you wouldn’t tell them, but you’d do it anyway?
Schlein: Well, I sure wouldn’t tell them… I’d find a reason if I wanted to fire them…
Signorile: You'd find a reason to fire someone because they're black?
Schlein: I'd find a reason if I wanted to fire anybody not respective of race. It's not about race.
You can see how Schlein tried to salvage the exchange at the end there, but it did no good. The national Log Cabin Republicans have sacked Mr. Schlein and dissolved his chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, while simultaneously beginning a new chapter in Dallas under different leadership. Mr. Schlein thinks he was sacked because he was getting too chummy with GoProud. The LCR have their own explanation. According to R. Clarke Cooper, the group's executive director:
When the leadership of one of our chapters chooses to undermine the credibility, effectiveness and mission of Log Cabin Republicans through their actions, we are forced to enact corrective measures for the good of the greater organization. It is unfortunate that the former leadership of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, particularly its president Rob Schlein, have engaged in a consistent pattern of behavior that detracts from the mission of our organization. After all due consideration and efforts at reconciliation, the Board of Directors have decided to begin anew, ensuring that our mission of fighting for freedom can be at its strongest in Dallas and across the country.
Apparently, the national LCR is for anti-discrimination laws, and failing to toe the party line is a very big mistake. Though if you ask me, it probably wouldn't have been as big a mistake if Mr. Schlein hadn't soundly vaguely racist while committing it.
But is Mr. Schlein a racist? It seems like Mr. Schlein was trying to explain that if an employer is racist, anti-discrimination laws won't necessarily stop him from firing someone on account of race. Am I reading this right? Was Mr. Shlein's gaffe a dumb slip of the tongue, or something else?