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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gregoire “Racist” Comments Cause a Stir

posted by on August 7 at 12:22 PM

In the Stranger Election Control Board’s interview with Gov. Christine Gregoire (for a full list of our endorsements, check out our election cheat sheet
), she blasted a Building Industry Association of Washington-backed ad as “racist.” The ad implied Gregoire gave the tribes a sweetheart deal on a slot-machine gambling expansion compact in exchange for donations to the Democratic Party, which later made their way to her campaign. Gregoire told us:

They made stuff up about the tribes and the ad, by the way, I think is racist. I think this whole thing is racist, and I’m totally offended by it. But it just shows you how low they’ll go. It shows you that it doesn’t matter what the truth is, they’re going to trump stuff up. So I’m not afraid of making decisions independently and standing by them.

Gregoire’s comments are making it all over the Northwest (and nation—last night the story was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”) Here’s a sampling of the coverage.

Spokane’s Spokesman Review: “Gregoire Calls Campaign Ad Untrue, Racist.”

KOMO News: “Gregoire Calls Campaign Ad ‘Racist.’”

The Seattle Times: “Gregoire decries ad by foes as ‘racist’”

Tacoma’s News Tribune: “Gregoire charges racism by critics of gambling deals”

KING 5 News: “Gregoire declares campaign ad ‘racist’”

The Bellingham Herald: “Gregoire charges racism by critics of gambling deals”

The Associated Press (printed all over the Northwest, and here in the Oregonian): “Campaign ad declared ‘racist’ by Wash. governor”

The Everett Herald: “Campaign ad called ‘racist’”

Here’s the original ad:

And here’s the relevant snippet from the Stranger’s interview with Gregoire.

What do you think, Slog readers? Is the governor right that attacks on her relationship with the tribes are “racist”? Or is she blowing the ads out of proportion?

RSS icon Comments



Mentioning tribal casinos at all is racist now?

Posted by leek | August 7, 2008 12:47 PM

Feels more ageist than racist to me.

Posted by Amy | August 7, 2008 12:47 PM

I think these ads could be construed as racist, in so far that they portray Indian Tribes as a sort of mafia or otherwise corrupt group. But, it doesn't appear that they are implying that Indians as a whole are corrupt, just that the tribal organization is corrupt. I don't think she's right, but I don't think she is necessarily wrong for taking umbrage.

Posted by boxofbirds | August 7, 2008 12:49 PM

It's the New Kinda Politics: everything's racist, and nobody cares.

Does Obama Golf ring any bells?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | August 7, 2008 12:52 PM

It's a lot easier to dismiss dissenting discourse as racist than to actually address the issues raised. She's clearly (and poorly) attempting to avoid the issue.

In Washington, isn't it the case that only tribes can operate casinos? How is that not racist?

Posted by john cocktosin | August 7, 2008 12:57 PM

This quote from the BIAW spokesperson defines racism from their perspective - you be the judge.

That was obviously far more offensive than anything we've put out there," Shannon said. "I'm certain that our ads didn't have a bunch of Indians wearing feathered headdresses, dancing around with tomahawks ... that would have been racist."

Posted by ralf | August 7, 2008 1:02 PM

This quote from the BIAW spokesperson defines racism from their perspective - you be the judge.

That was obviously far more offensive than anything we've put out there," Shannon said. "I'm certain that our ads didn't have a bunch of Indians wearing feathered headdresses, dancing around with tomahawks ... that would have been racist."

Posted by ralf | August 7, 2008 1:02 PM

Let's put it this way.

Attacking a candidate's support for (and from) native tribes is as bigoted as attacking a candidate's support for gay rights, or for women's rights, or for affirmative action, etc., would be.

It smacks of the same anti-tribal undertones of Eyman's "electronic pull tabs" belly-shaker of a couple years ago. The underlying justification there being that the tribes should "play by the same rules", i.e. not have their sovereignty acknowledged or receive any sort of concession or special consideration from us good upstanding European folk.

Posted by K | August 7, 2008 1:03 PM

@5 "In Washington, isn't it the case that only tribes can operate casinos?"

The reason for that is that the reservations have limited sovereignity and are able to have laws that differ from the rest of the state. Not really racist if they're just governing themselves.

That fact aside, I thought there were non-tribal casinos in the state. Am I wrong about that?

Posted by T | August 7, 2008 1:05 PM

I find the ad racist for its undertones: us-against-indian rather than us-against-corruption.

Posted by Not An Indian | August 7, 2008 1:09 PM

not racist. her response was knee-jerk stupid. crying racism when there is none cheapens the word. it's a sleazy way of skirting the issue. shameful.

Posted by brandon | August 7, 2008 1:12 PM

Its not so much that that ad was racist, as the underlying tone of this entire fake scandal that smacks of trying to tie Gregoire to a group of brown people that the general public might not understand or might be a little apprehensive of.

Posted by vooodooo84 | August 7, 2008 1:13 PM

Greggypoo's ad about Rossi's Italian Heritage is okay with you guys,
Rossi's ad about shady backroom deals makes Rossi an anti-Indian Rascist.
That's Funny.
How many of you Elite Seattlites know that Rossi is a Native American who loves his mommy!!!

Remember, some of us Native Americans don't like this gambling stuff that Gregoire wants as it destroys the fabric of our true heritage.

Posted by DILLIGAF | August 7, 2008 1:40 PM

I must not be hyper-sensitive enough to detect racism in the ad. However, I do find the attempt connect unrelated dots to be offensive and banal.

Posted by DaiBando | August 7, 2008 2:02 PM

"Racist" IS the new black. Well, you know what I mean.

Posted by Don't Call Me White | August 7, 2008 2:02 PM

When it come to racism, Gregoire is without credibility.

She had little to say about The Sopranos ad.

She has her own history:

Posted by Luigi Giovanni | August 7, 2008 2:03 PM

Hey, it worked.

It's called fighting fire with fire.

If John McSame can pretend he's not a clone of GWB, the Gov can call this racist.

Anyone else see the latest spew of "advice" to Dems from Karl Marx Rove and his Red Bushies in today's WSJ?

Turnabouts fair play. How's that massive loss of Red Bushie seats working for you, Karl? Bet you're sorry your wrecking krewe works for McSame ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 7, 2008 2:06 PM

the ad tries to harness peoples distrust of native americans and their dirty casinos in order to bash gregoire by association. not exactly racist so much as trying to take advantage of already existing racism. i think if gregoire wants to express how offended she is she needs to be a bit more eloquent than just saying it's racist.

Posted by douglas | August 7, 2008 2:07 PM

where are you from dilligaf? you sound like the rightwing token. also remember that rossi has not always claimed his heritage or loved his mommy, i think he called her a drunk once. he has tried to 'pass' in the past.

as for the racism in the ad? its not perhaps overtly racist but its subtle pitting of tribes versus us is unsettling. minority groups (tribes represented by a money sucking slot) getting one over the honest majority (as represented by sweet grandma) has echoes in history: protocols of the elders of zion, almost every genocidal action every taken. especially since washinton's native people, as represented by the tribes, are below the majority for every socio economic factor you can think of; it comes across as disengenous. as well it doesn't have to be overtly racist, this ad is a trigger for negative conceptions of tribes (and the natives they represent) that are in common parlance (the free education, free money, free ride). unlike other groups natives are a disadvantaged group in so many different ways with lots of historical trauma. so while attacking a dominant group is distatesful, attacking a subjugated one is heaping ignominy on those already dumped on repeatedly.

Posted by Jiberish | August 7, 2008 2:10 PM

I don't think the ad is racist, just stupid. But the Gov's deal with the tribes was not a good one for the state. We could be using some of that money to balance the budget and avoid cutting services.

Posted by crazycatguy | August 7, 2008 3:09 PM

I am from the ballast on the totem.
Not a token.
Don't need you to stand up for our heritage, Jiberish.

Posted by DILLIGAF | August 7, 2008 3:16 PM

@20, why should the tribes be bailing out the state? revenue from casino's fund tribal programs with a significant portion already going to the state with additional charitable monies going to local non-profit groups. the tribes are a sovereign government not a piggy bank

Posted by Jiberish | August 7, 2008 4:27 PM

Wha, Gregoire does blow? There goes my vote.

Posted by Dingo Rossi | August 7, 2008 4:30 PM

Yes, it is absolutely racist. Some guy from Vegas is quoted in the Seattle PI as saying the tribes are crooks (bribers). Would the PI publish that if the giver were Boeing or Microsoft? Then there is this: Throughout all the articles on this subject, I have yet to see a single article, including the one I'm responding to now, in which any reporter has attempted to ask tribal leaders or tribal members how they feel about it. Have these people been decreed non-existent? Do you think they lack telephones? Are they some foreign presence in our state? All you 20-something journalists really have a lot to learn.

Posted by harry | August 7, 2008 5:59 PM

kudos to Slog for asking the question and to those commenters who have provided thoughtful reactions without tagging Slog as racist for merely asking the question.

Under the standard proposed by @19, no one can ever attacks tribes today for anything, due to historical oppression. But in fact thruout history everyone has atacked and oppressed everyone, pretty much. The English were oppressed, the various tribes in VA and MA when whites came had displaed other tribes previously, cro magnon v. neanderthal, etc. etc. blah blah blah.

As to this ad, in general we Dems make similar arguments all the time: GOP gets money from corporations and special interests; GOP takes action favorable to them; this is corrupt. The GOP ad is just sauce for the gander, no?

Posted by PC | August 7, 2008 6:11 PM

@25 i wanted to make the point that the way tribes were depicted (through a slot that only took but never paid out) was my objection. critism needs to be made from informed points of view which does not happen often. i see many times people making critiques on conjecture and rumor.

and all too often people point out that basically every one has been unfair to everyone else so whats the deal? the point is that promises were made to native people through treaties. i think we should hold our republic to a higher standard than shit happens. justice, fairness, and honesty are what we should aspire to not flinch from.

we should not flinch from the fact that native treaty signers wanted peace and gave up so much for this country so it could prospere. a prosperity that has not reached many native people. if we are honest and honor treaty rights then we preserve the soul of this country. if we don't then freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness will forever be hollow.

be real americans and open your eyes to what has happened, don't let it guilt you into trying ignore it out of shame. let it lead you to humilty and the quest to build something better.

Posted by Jiberish | August 8, 2008 12:09 AM

Yes, the ads were rascist. If you lived in rural Washington you would know this.

For example, my state senator, Tim Sheldon, recently sped through an Indian community so he could get a ticket from the tribal police and fight it. The reason he did that is to prove to the "whites" that he doesn't think the tribal police should be allowed to enforce traffic laws.

The roots of this go back to the thefts of Indian tidelands and timber- the same families still run the county and still use their control of the county (Mason County) to ignore the law when they develop land- and go forward to the changes that need to be made to restore the salmon and shellfish. The Indians have done about 90% of the work to restore the salmon and the whites who have dammed or bulkheaded the streams, or built in wetlands, hate this.

I know, pretty unbelievable that this is still going on. Before you move to a rural area, subscribe by mail to the local paper for a year and read about what constitutes news out here.

Posted by serial catowner | August 8, 2008 6:18 AM

We need to get the money back from the Casinos either by an initiative or a referendum. The Casinos were paying their fair share because they were raking in the money. And do not think that I am a racist--our family had Indian children as foster kids in our home. I pride myself in seeking out people of different cultures and ideas.

This is a case of bringing back money to the State that it really needs.

Posted by Leslie Bloss | August 8, 2008 8:38 AM

@28 i really feel for those kids

Posted by Jiberish | August 8, 2008 10:43 AM

againg @28 but why would you consider it washington's money to take back, what is the basis for this belief?

Posted by Jiberish | August 8, 2008 11:11 AM

The ad makes the point that tribal casinos and by extension, Native Americans, are a suspect special interest group receiving something to which they don't deserve in an underhand manner. By casting a sweet old lady who is being taken in by an abviously rigged slot machine the asinos are portrayed as preying on the helpless. Sounds a little rascist to me.

Posted by inkweary | August 8, 2008 12:42 PM

Not nearly as hilariously stupid as that one media source that called a Gregoire attack ad against Rossi 'an ethnic slur.'

Posted by Gomez | August 8, 2008 1:18 PM

When you can't defend what you've done, throw out a hot button stinger and all of the idiots will be placated and go blind finding the evidence to support the charge.
Gawd, it's so obvious it's hilarious.
You can find racist "undertones" in the ad but can't see the elephant in your living room.
Casinos pay no tax. Casinos donate 3/4 of a million to Gregoire.
Pretty good investment I'd say.

Posted by Harry_0 | August 8, 2008 5:39 PM

Gregoire is the worst govenor this state has ever had, she walked into office with state budgets bulging with money, her appointed friends in all the state agencies have done there jobs= put us in a 2.5 billion hole= her fix will be raise taxes and spend more of our money= She needs to go away and fire all of here appointed pals in all the agencies= she has no fiscal responsiblity at all.. Vote Rossi lets get some new blood in Thurston County :)

Posted by Tax and spend | August 9, 2008 2:47 AM

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