Dear Republicans, please pay attention to minority issues

Jackie Mantey

If he thinks Dubya hates black people, I wonder what Kanye West has to say about the country’s potential new leaders.

Last week a moderator, a panel of famous black and Hispanic journalists and a live audience were all ready for a long-planned minority debate for Republican presidential candidates. So were the contenders . sort of.

Apparently some things are just more important than addressing racism, sexism and hate crimes in America. Things like scheduling conflicts.

The debate, which Democrats had participated in a few weeks before, was conspicuously skipped by all four front runners of the Republican side of the fence — Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Fred Thompson.

This isn’t the first time the candidates have made evident their disregard for discourse on such topics — the Spanish-language network Univision recently canceled a debate after only one candidate agreed to participate (McCain). A summer NAACP forum was attended by only one Republican candidate (Rep. Tom Tancredo).

My question for these candidates is, what exactly were you doing that was more important than any of these debates? Filming for stupid political ads? You’re not only alienating minorities in this country who, in reality, are a voting majority. For the sake of morality, shunning such discussions is not only unproductive, it’s unacceptable.

Sen. Sam Brownback (who did make room in his schedule to attend) nailed it on the head when he said, “I think this is a disgrace that they’re not here. I think it’s a disgrace for our country, I think it’s bad for our party, and I don’t think it’s good for our future.”

No kidding.

But, in typical political fanfare, the Republicans are fighting back at such accusations with the fact that the Democrat candidates refused to debate on Fox News because liberal voters told them not to. Such an argument is ludicrous. You can’t put debating on Fox and the human rights of your citizens in the same category. Addressing minority issues shouldn’t mean coming out of a comfort zone. It should be an integral concern of someone about to lead America.

The issues that were presented at these debates and forums are all very real. You need look no further than headlines in this semester’s Daily Kent Stater: “Noose rumor stirs up meeting”; “Racial slur still under investigation”; “KSU officials offer advice after alleged sexual assault.”

If we’re dealing with such injustices and repercussions at Kent State, this has to be paralleled on the national level – and it certainly is (Hello! Jena 6!).

While it may be an unfair assessment to argue that the top four Republican candidates don’t care about minority issues, this is just a disheartening reminder of the Republican Party’s ignorance of injustice. No action is an action.

Jackie Mantey is a senior

magazine journalism major and

columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact her at [email protected].