U.S. Rep. McSally speaks out on Charlottesville, but critics say it's too little, too late
In last week's Skinny, we talked about the local reaction to the deplorable events in Charlottesville, when low-rent would-be Nazis marched in the streets and clashed with counter-protestors who stood against their intolerable message of hate for Jews and minorities.
We mostly focused on Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller, who declared on Facebook that she was "sick and tired of being hit for being white... It is all about making us feel like we need to apologize. I am WHITE—and proud of it! No apologies necessary."
Miller showed just how proud she really was when she chickened out this week and told her colleagues she wouldn't be participating in this week's Board of Supervisors meeting after she learned that members of our community were going to show up and let her know that embracing your white pride on the day that Nazis are marching in the streets is, to say the least, shitty timing. As usual, Ally remains in hiding when it comes to facing the consequences of her words. (See Danyelle Khmara's "White Flight" on Page 4 for details on the Board of Supes meeting.)
We also mentioned that Congresswoman Martha McSally had remained silent on the events of Charlottesville. We should have added "as of our deadline"—shortly after the paper went to press, McSally did issue a statement on Twitter, saying, "Let's be clear: white supremacy or any form of racism, bigotry, violence or domestic terrorism has no place in America."
Those words aren't enough for McSally's critics. Kristen Randall, the leader of Indivisible Southern Arizona, said McSally was slow to respond: "She waited three or four days" before sending out the brief tweet after members of the public pressured her to say something.
Randall said Indivisible Southern Arizona focused this week's protest in front of McSally's midtown office because she wanted to put pressure on the congresswoman—in her role on the House Homeland Security Committee—to ensure that federal officials continue monitoring white nationalist groups. Earlier this year, the Trump administration cut grants to groups working to counter violent extremism by American neo-Nazis and other domestic hate groups, saying the focus should shift to radical Islamic movements.
"We want to see her hold hearing with DHS and DOJ," Randall said.
Randall said that in the wake of Charlottesville, she has a new concern about protesting against McSally and will no longer bring her toddler to the rallies.
"I think I need to be brave, because we are trying to make change for good and if we're too afraid, nothing will get done," Randall said. "But I don't want to bring my kid there. ... I think about people who sat back and allowed atrocities to go on, either through not paying attention or through fear, and I don't want to be like that. I don't want to let fear stop me from doing what I do."
Meanwhile, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, the former Arizona congresswoman who gave up her CD1 seat to unsuccessfully challenge Sen. John McCain, is now hoping to unseat McSally next year. She was also critical of McSally's reaction to the events in Charlottesville.
"It was pretty tepid," Kirkpatrick said. "She should have released a statement immediately and called it out for what is was—a demonstration of hate and violence and racism. And she waited. And she really has not led any kind of effort to call out the president for the terrible things that he's been saying. It's a disappointment."
This week, Kirkpatrick joined some Democratic state lawmakers to demand that Gov. Doug Ducey remove the Confederate memorial in the Wesley Bolin Plaza outside the Arizona Legislature and "say once and for all that we're not going to celebrate slavery or the government that fought to uphold such an ugly stain on our history."
"These are not the values we want to be teaching our children," Kirkpatrick added. "The Confederacy was wrong, and I think everybody is concerned about what we're seeing play out in various rallies, especially after Charlottesville. Arizona had very little to do with the Civil War. It's really inappropriate that we even have these Confederate war memorials."
Kirkpatrick said it might also be time to take a look at removing the Pancho Villa statue in downtown Tucson, given his history of banditry along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"That's a valid criticism that we need to listen to and figure this out," Kirkpatrick said. "And again, as far as I'm concerned, the people need to be heard on this, and we need to be able to find a solution."