Log Cabin Republicans And A Racially Charged Interview

PinkElHave 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?

Comments

  1. says

    It looks like it was just unfortunate wording. But people who do those kinds of gaffs have no place in politics and he deserved what he got.

  2. Steve says

    Sounds more like a poorly worded analogy. He is right in a way. Despite anti-discrimination laws, companies can just make up another reason to fire people. And suing to get the job back isn’t a good idea.

    The objection should be more about admitting that he would circumvent the law that way. It’s wrong behavior, no matter which minority is affected

  3. ehllo says

    The point of non-discrimination laws is to give legal recourse when an employer discriminates. No law can physically stop anybody from doing anything. Mr. Shlein represented Log Cabin, so he should have stuck to their policies and talking points.

  4. V-8 says

    I wonder if he will sue LCR for being discriminated against…. lol

    the thing is that the LCR did not have to give ANY explanation why they dissolved his chapter and sacked him, if they thought the same as Schlein…

    but they were kind enough to tell him why… (or maybe they were just doing the right thing, following the law, etc)…

    good luck on the job hunt!

  5. Jerry says

    I tend to agree with the general tenor, in that employers will find a reason that doesn’t smack of racism, because unless there’s an over-arching pattern of behavior (i.e. several minorities being fired without evidence of strong cause in each case), isolated instances won’t draw attention.

  6. Scott Lumry says

    There is more to this than meets the eye. In my opinion Mr. Schlein was stating the national party line in reference to discrimination. If that is so, then he was fired for something else. Perhaps someone in the national office wanted an off-the-books-and-under-the-sheets favor and he would not oblige them. But, you can’t sue for that, either, as a gay man.

  7. Craig says

    I think they fired him for being an idiot but they just made up a different reason so they didn’t look idiot phobic. Right to work state!!

  8. Robert says

    That line of questioning was a bit tricky and a bit loaded. What he was trying to say that if he wanted to fire someone for being black he could, but he doesn’t have to state that they were black. He could make up any excuse in the book. They shouldn’t have dissolved his entire chapter over some vague wording through trick questioning. There is more than meets the eye going on here.

  9. Cassandra says

    He could have avoided the charge of racism simply being framing his responses as “Someone could”.

  10. RJ says

    @ROBERT … “Trick questioning”? Are you serious? The questions were straight forward. All the guy needed to do was NOT use the first person in his answers. Instead of saying “I can fire them for whatever reason”, say “the employer can fire them for whatever reason”.

  11. Roger says

    I think he was baited by MS (Schlein didn’t bring up race) and didn’t catch it until too late. I also think there was another reason the National Log Cabin group wanted to fire him and/or reorganize Dallas and took this as a convienent opportunity (notice the words “consistent pattern” in their explanation).

    The thing to take away from all this is that in a right to work situation, one can be fired without cause and unless there is a clear pattern (new owner of the business who comes in and fires a group of people with a common demoninator (race, gender etc.)) its nearly impossible to get justice.

    I find it hard to believe Schlein set out to be racist, but he def needed to be more wary of his interviewer. That level of cluelessness can’t be tolerated in a leader.

  12. pete N SFO says

    Truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with his answer. It’s daily practice I’m sure.

    Swap out the race for orientation & perhaps it will be easier to see. Happens all the time & is exactly the reason people need laws to protect them in the workplace.

    Race & taxes… ever the 3rd Rail of politics. I agree w/ other posters, there’s more happ’nin here than this interview.

  13. Paul R says

    I hate the LCR, but Dallas has to be one of their biggest, most profitable locations. Count me in that they’ve wanted to get rid of him for a while.

  14. jason says

    I think Schlein was simply stating a fact rather than advocating the content of the fact. For instance, I could go on air and state that “you can fire gays for whatever reason you want in Texas”. It doesn’t mean that I personally support the firing of gays for any reason, it simply reflects the fact that there are no anti-discrimination laws in the state of Texas that would protect a gay person from being fired simply because the boss doesn’t like homosexuality.

    Facts need to be stated no matter how unpleasant they are. The only way we will overcome prejudice is by facing facts and stating them loud and clear.

  15. Bob R says

    Blatant racism would be refusing to hire an African-American in the first place, or to avoid legal complications hiring the minimum number required to avoid an EEOC lawsuit.

    The facts are, in a right to work state you can be fired for any reason, legal or illegal, just so long as the employer doesn’t state that the illegal reason is the reason you’re being fired.

    There are companies that will fire an employee if they are determined to be or suspected to be gay. But only an idiot HR guy would say, “we think you’re gay so we’re letting you go.”

    Many years ago, I worked for a convenience store company headquartered in Georgia whose unwritten policy was to not hire blacks or gays or Paks (Pakistani). Blacks were hired of course, but not kept around very long. Anyone suspected of being gay was also fired soon after discovery, but they were fired for other reasons. Same with folks “suspected” of theft. You didn’t tell them you were terminating them because you thought they were a thief, you used another excuse.

    Schlein was just stating facts. His problem is he stated them wrong and made it sound as if he himself advocated or practiced firing someone based on race. I think Schlein may be himself experiencing first hand the right to work inequity.

  16. Max says

    Jason, you’re wasting your time explaining it to them. They’re having far too much fun being offended.

  17. Bravo says

    What these idiots don’t understand is that going against anti-discrimination law is essentially giving permission to employers to fire people for being a different race, or disabled, or gay.

  18. Max says

    Racism = rehashing old blood libels that “Jewish bankers” are to blame for all the world’s economic woes.

    But no one at Towleroad seems to be upset about that.

  19. matt says

    Interesting. The Democratic Black Caucus will only admit…black people. This conversation could have so many nuances, such as age, race, etc. This strikes me as one of the postings you usually find on the OTHER popular gay bog, where when they find themselves without stories, they spin something in a particular way.

  20. luminum says

    Max: Sorry, but Schlein’s (and the LCR’s) argument that anti-discrimination laws should be done away with because they cannot prevent discrimination is absurd, to say nothing of what a moronic attempt that was to make that point (and therefore an argument in support of his firing anyway).

    As stated by someone else, there is no law on earth that can prevent someone from going against it or any other crime. The law inherently exists to provide legal recourse or punishment for going against it. Laws against murder, child abuse, rape, or theft don’t prevent anyone from committing murder, child abuse, rape, or theft. They happen all the time. The only preventative effect they have is to potentially make someone reconsider the act for fear of the legal consequences.

    But ultimately how they function–the meat of the law–is by ensuring that victims (and society) are able to seek recourse and perpetrators are legally punished. The law dictates that certain actions, if proven, have assigned consequences. Someone can still get away with murder, and a child rapist can still get away with rape after the statute of limitations has passed, but that’s hardly a reason to advocate eliminating laws making murder or child rape illegal.

    Likewise, any law is useless if a crime cannot be proven. There is no difference between a murderer lying and destroying evidence and a boss fabricating a reason to fire someone because of their race or sexual orientation. If the law didn’t exist, they wouldn’t have to fabricate anything. People have to hide the evidence of their crime to get away with it precisely BECAUSE the law exists. It is always up to the law to demonstrate that the evidence exists and to see through fabrication. If the idea that “it is possible for a crime can be committed and never proven” isn’t a rational basis for eliminating murder laws, why would it be a rational argument for eliminating anti-discrimination laws?

    When the law doesn’t exist, there is no basis for punishment, as there is no crime. That is why anti-discrimination laws exist and why they should remain. Unless of course, the belief here is that if minorities are going to fall victim to discrimination anyway, they might as well also fall victim to the inability to seek justice.

  21. Max says

    Nice dodge, Luminum. The article is about a poorly-worded and deliberately misunderstood hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question.

    However, there is actual racism against Jews at these Occupy Wall Street protests.

    Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMjm4LxFa1c

    Perhaps you could write a five-paragraph essay about that?

  22. stevenelliot says

    schlein is actually correct in what he said….IE that if they dont like you for being a monority, they can fire you. They will just make up another reason, like a lack of performance, etc. He’s actually wrong for saying it though. Its like an insurance company saying something like….”well we know we owe you for workers compesation because you broke your arm at the office moving furniture, but we’re gonna say you we’re negligent in the way you handled that move” in other words, He’s admitting guilt and also admitting covering up for it at the same time. Of course thats why they dont want the laws to begin with…..so they can just flat out fire you, period. for whatever reason. This is business to them

  23. says

    Dumb slip,of the tongue. But the overly pc crowd got their hooks in, and that’s all she wrote.
    Of course I support pc, but like every other system, it can go off the rails.

  24. BarerMender says

    In the name of god, you don’t tow the line. You TOE the line. Pick up a dictionary, damn it.

  25. Jeffrey Dunivant says

    I don’t know why people vote Republican, given the recent mob of misfits. It baffles the mind.

  26. say what says

    they fired him for revealing the truth about gay repubs and repubs in general who are not part of the 1% multi-millionaire billionaire gang = racism pure and simple is why people are repubs and vote against their own economic self interest

    Couldn’t allow that much truth out from under the white sheets so they fired him

  27. Jose Soto says

    I agree. There is nothing wrong with what was being said. If anything MS was trying to bait him with the race card.

    The title of this post was misleading. If anything MS was the one who was racially charged.

  28. Jay says

    Pet prevent rant. People this is not a right to work issue. RTW prohibit workplace rules that require union membership. Employment at will is a common law concept that allows an employer or employee to terminate employment at any time for any reason not prohibited.

    This error is annoyingly common, and I will administer an atomic wedgie to the next person to commit it. /rant

  29. Max says

    Say What, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are some of Obama’s biggest donors. You know that, right? Talk about voting against one’s economic interests.

    David, are you feeling better today? Here’s a hug. :)

  30. Wilkby says

    Being a racist is unacceptable in the Log Cabin Republicans, but being a self loathing queer is still OK?

  31. StueyT says

    You can`t get more racially charged than genocide:

    Africa for the Africans,Asia for the Asians,white countries for EVERYBODY!

    Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

    The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

    Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

    What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

    How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

    And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives alike say I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

  32. StueyT says

    You can`t get more racially charged than genocide:

    Africa for the Africans,Asia for the Asians,white countries for EVERYBODY!

    Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

    The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

    Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

    What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

    How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

    And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives alike say I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

  33. CAJIVA says

    What if is was sttaight and he said that about gays? You queens would be all on him. I cant believe most of you were defending him. It wasnt a trick question, it was straight and to the point. Yall are sick and no different from the GOP, LCR, and GoProud. At least they are more real and upfront about their bigotry and not hiding behind this false delussion of equality.

  34. jakeinlove says

    Yes, it was a CLEAR accident of misspoken words which is often what happens when racists use the wrong choice of words to cover up their non racist point of view.

  35. Tyron says

    Unfortunately people, not only in “right to work” states, are fired every day for phony reasons. I had a boss (who did not own the company) once tell me he fired minorities, women and gays all the time simply because he didn’t like working with them. Once human resources hired them he simply found “valid” reasons to get rid of them, even if it meant lying or setting them up. He also bragged about laying the groundwork so well that he never lost a case if it was brought before the EEOC. Ironically less than six months after he told me all these details he was passed over for a promotion by a (unknown to him) gay man – ME – who subsequently fired him for just cause (falsify a workmen’s comp claim for his girlfriend) – resulting in not only him losing his job but also being denied unemployment benefits.

  36. Joetx says

    I know Rob Schlein. He’s your stereotypical gay Republican, who just cares about his pocketbook & blames liberals for everything.

  37. twinkie1cat says

    The comment was probably a poor explanation. However, being from the South, I have met a number of racist gay people and know some Republican gay people.

    That said, it is true that an employer in a right to work state can make up an unsubstantiated reason to fire a person. This is particularly done to teachers whom principals don’t like and the real reason for having tenure and unions. They employer can pretend the firing is performance related when it really has to do with race, age, sex, sexual orientation, how the person dresses, or just because the employer does not like the the victim. It also is known to happen if the victim does not put out sexually. One place where I worked all the employer said was that they had “concerns”. This followed a perfect evaluation. The principal had a history of hiring teachers who could pass for high school kids! I was in my 50s. Don’t let them fool you, what the man said is true. If they don’t have a reason they will make one up and in some cases, they don’t have to have one.