Although we collectively aspire to sober statesmanship and courageous leadership in politics, often extreme polarizing partisanship exposes the worst traits of human nature and toxic thinking. Sadly, Republicans have made performance art out of juvenile and bombastic rhetoric, but conservative extremists like Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Millbrook) have crossed an immutable red line and need to be publicly called out and shamed.
To “call out” a public official means that their words or behaviors have violated their oath and commitment to honorable public service and that they should be held accountable and appropriately disciplined.
In case you were unaware, Dismukes, AL Republican legislator and Chaplain of the Grand Dragoons of the Sons of the Confederacy, decided to partake in celebrating the birthday of Confederate General and First KKK Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest. He chose to do this in front of Confederate Flags as America mourned the loss of Civil Rights Titan, U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
Grand Dragoon Will Dismukes claims to be baffled by the public outcry. He simply doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about or why anyone would ask for his resignation.
Dismukes recently said in a KNOE interview, “I guess, with the anti-Southern sentiment and all, and the things that we have going on in the world today, there’s a lot of people that are seeming to be more and more offended. We live in a time where we literally are going through cancel culture from all different areas and people are even more sensitive on different issues and different subjects. This was just one of those times that it didn’t quite go the way I expected, and I never intended to bring hurt to anyone, especially my own family with everything that’s been said.”
Dismukes’ response is precisely why he is being called out and asked to resign immediately. The Alabama Democratic Party, as well as Republicans like Rep. Clyde Chambliss, have called for Dismukes to step down and are rightfully stunned by his callous and ignorant response. Heck, even the racist-coddling Alabama Republican Party issued a lukewarm slap on the wrist. ALGOP Chair Terry Lathan tepidly remarked, “It is one thing to honor one’s Southern heritage, however, it is completely another issue to specifically commemorate the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unconscionable actions and atrocities toward African-Americans. I strongly urge his constituents to contact Rep. Dismukes to articulate and share with him their thoughts on his personal actions.”
Yeah, just give him a little call, but let’s not actually CALL HIM OUT for his obvious racism in defending the Confederacy. Why, it’s “Southern Heritage” like sweet tea, magnolias, and mint juleps, right?
Of course, it’s not at all surprising that Lathan lacked the spine or intestinal fortitude to actually call Dismukes out and demand his resignation. Lathan and her fellow Republicans have acted just as cowardly when Congressman Mo Brooks has made a habit of uttering racist or absurd remarks almost regularly. Republicans are fully aware that their silence signals complicity and symbolic, if not outright, agreement.
Calling out Dismukes and other racist-coddling Republicans is only the first step. If they won’t resign or if GOP leadership refuses to clean their own house, the voters need to take the next step and do it for them at the ballot box. The murder of black people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor has re-awoken the nation’s conscience to the insidious evils of systemic racism and political bigotry.
Calling out Dismukes is morally obligatory and not about scoring partisan political points. His resignation is required because his actions were deeply and deliberately offensive. Further, he has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding as to the consequences. He is blindly unaware that his words and actions are predicated on mythological propaganda intended to justify slavery and racial prejudice.
You may have a place with your beloved Grand Dragoons, but you have no place in the Alabama Legislature. We see exactly who you are and we won’t forget.
Rep. Will Dismukes, you’ve been called out– it’s time for you to go.