A Buncombe County Republican precinct chairman has been asked to resign after making "offensive" comments on "The Daily Show." Buncombe GOP Chairman Henry Mitchell said Don Yelton officially stepped down from his position Thursday. Mitchell called the remarks "offensive, uniformed and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party."
If you missed the interview, it's a doozy. Yelton, who's practically a caricature of himself, told Aasif Mandvi the new state voting law is intended to tilt elections in Republicans' favor, used the "n" word, referenced "lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything," and said, in all seriousness, that one of his "best friends is black."
The response came quickly.
Though Yelton resigned from his post, he told a local television station that he stands by his comments. "This is being picked up in Raleigh, across the state," he told WLOS in Asheville. "They're trying to say, 'Look at this guy. He's racist.' The whole question isn't about racism."
The controversy coincides with a new effort, launched just this week, in which the North Carolina Republican Party is trying to expand its outreach to the African-American community.
But in the larger context, there's a more systemic issue for Republicans to come to terms with. Republicans are, after all, the party of birthers. They’re the party of Rep. Steve “Cantaloupe” King and Gov. Paul “Kiss My Butt” LePage. It was Republican Don Young who talked about “wetbacks” in March, and it was Republican Sarah Palin who talked about “shuck and jive” during the 2012 campaign.
It's also, of course, the party that's spearheading voter-suppression campaigns in states nationwide, in the most sweeping assault on voting rights since the Jim Crow era.
Earlier this year, Colin Powell, himself a Republican, lamented the "dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” featuring GOP voices who “still sort of look down on minorities.”
It's a problem that's not going away. (Update: As Adam Serwer noted, this wasn't Yelton's first incident with state GOP officials.)
Oct. 25, 201320:46