Following the controversies surrounding Cliven Bundy and Don Sterling, both of whom were recorded making deeply offensive comments about African Americans, it seemed likely that anyone tempted to make racially-charged remarks this week would bite their tongues.
But it appears some folks pushed their luck anyway.
In Utah, for example, state Rep. David Lifferth (R) this week argued
that the NAACP is a "racist" organization because it "tries to advance specific people based of their race." He's since apologized, suggesting his criticism was a "joke."
"My joke was in poor taste and insensitive to others," Lifferth wrote on a blog post Thursday. "I have learned a lot in the past few days. The NCAAP [sic] is not a racist organization. My logic was flawed." Lifferth said he grew up at "ground zero of the civil rights era" and was taught to love everyone, adding that he hopes that "people can find it in their hearts to forgive a naive person that truly does love and care for people of all races and nationalities." The Utah lawmaker said he deleted the tweets and hopes they will not hurt anyone else's feelings.
Calling his comments a "joke" seems odd -- was it supposed to be funny when a state lawmaker calls the NAACP "racist"? -- though his apology appears to have resolved the matter.
But as it turns out, Lifferth wasn't the only one whose attempts at racially charged "humor" caused a stir this week. The chairman of a county Republican Party in Illinois also tried to tell a joke -- and ended up in an even more provocative offensive place.
In this case, as TPM discovered
, Winnebago County Republican Central Committee chairman Jim Thompson said if the media focused on the offspring of a zebra and a donkey there would be two "living creatures" getting plenty of attention for being partially white and partially black.
"Media update for the week: saw on the news this week the offspring of a donkey and a zebra, black and white legs, rest all donkey," Thompson wrote at the end of the newsletter. "Not sure why this is news: now if we can teach him to read a teleprompter, we could have two living creatures the media will fawn over that is part white part black and all a**!"
Thompson later said, "I would like to offer my sincere apology to those who were offended, and I regret including this item in the newsletter. In the future, it most certainly won't happen again."
Granted, a county GOP official is a far cry from a national or even statewide figure, but then again, Don Yelton
was a county GOP official, too.
And the cumulative effect of these stories probably doesn't do any favors for the party's outreach efforts to minority communities.