Sadly, it’s the sad truth that few energies are as stubborn and unrepentant as racism in America. A Michigan Republican Party official has made headlines for using racial slurs at a public meeting — and then doubling down on the hateful speech when angry citizens began demanding his resignation.
Last Thursday, Leelanau County Road Commissioner Tom Eckerle launched into a wild rant about why he refused to wear a mask, blaming the “whole thing” on the “n*****s in Detroit. When his colleagues protested in horror, Eckerle argued that “I can say anything that I want. Black Lives Matter has everything to do with taking the country away from us.”
After calls for his resignation immediately began to echo, Eckerle continued to dig his own grave with an even more appalling statement to Interlochen Public Radio. “I don’t regret calling it an n*****r. A n*****r is a n*****r is a n*****r. That’s not a person whatsoever.” Comparing it to calling himself a “German” or a “Polack,” he finished by saying that it’s not racism at all.
It is precisely this kind of arrogant dehumanization that paves the way for lynchings, pogroms, and genocide. Refusing to recognize another person’s inherent humanity and rebranding them with a discriminatory, otherizing label is the first step to breaking down our moral barriers against violence against our own kind, and it’s clear this man Eckerle has entirely otherized black Americans and certainly should not be in any position to make any kind of decisions that might affect them.
It’s terrifying to see this kind of deeply ingrained racism being expressed so casually — and to wonder how many more Republicans are out there believing the same thing.