Blind spots and prejudice trump Speaker Ryan

By Bill Kaplan

Again, another murderous slaughter: 49 people at an LGBT dance club in Orlando - massacred - by a homophobic gunman pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. Hate and terror converged. Soon press releases and tweets began churning out. House Speaker Paul Ryan rightly condemned the "terrorist attack", but inexplicably failed to mention the LGBT "innocent lives". Similar statements were issued by Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker. Not a word about the LGBT. It was akin to condemning the Holocaust without referring to the extermination of Jews. More blind spots.

GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump trumped Ryan, Johnson and Walker. Incredibly, Trump in a tweet congratulated himself "for being right on Islamic terrorism". Not a word about the LGBT. No compassion or empathy, only hubris and narcissism. Moreover, Trump did not acknowledge the convergence of hate and terror. Not presidential. Late Monday, Trump finally mentioned the LGBT dead and injured after earlier slurring President Obama as somehow connected to the carnage. Nothing new for Trump.

On Saturday, the Washington Post opined: "Donald Trump had the worst week in Washington....It began with the Republican establishment in something very close to outright revolt amid Trump's continued ham-handed handling of the controversy caused by his comments about the Mexican heritage of (U.S.) Judge Gonzalo Curiel (born in Indiana)." GOP politicians and sycophants scurried away, hair splitting about "support" vs. "endorsement" of Trump. Conservative columnist Michael Gerson exclaimed: "The party of Lincoln is dying." Speaker Ryan does not get it.

Ryan steps up periodically to condemn Trump's prejudice and racism. However, he ends up backing a bigoted Trump to defeat Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. But the Washington Post editorialized: "Winning is not an antidote to bigotry, violence, ignorance, insults and lies." The optics are glaring for Ryan. There's more.

It is not a business as usual moment for the GOP when Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard and California GOP candidate for governor in 2010, compares Trump to Hitler and Mussolini. Or when Mitt Romney, GOP presidential candidate in 2012, refers to Trump's campaign as "trickle-down racism". Speaker Ryan should rescind his endorsement of Trump. Honor and integrity are more important than loss of position. History will not forgive Ryan if he lets blind spots and prejudice trump him.

-- Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 - 2009.


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