What’s President Obama got to do with a race for Bentonville School Board?
Anyone around Arkansas Republican politics knows the answer to that question. There’s no better signifier to the perceived base majority in Arkansas (and I do mean base) than a mailer with a prominent photo of the black Muslim Kenyan.
And if you can throw in a man in the girls bathroom, you’ve got electoral gold!
What’s really going on here? Grant Lightle has been a dignified, diligent and well-informed member of a School Board that has generally done a good job of managing explosive growth. But Grant Lightle committed a cardinal sin in the eyes of the hard-core Religious Right that has been so successful in electing double-issue (anti-abortion, anti-gay) candidates in Northwest Arkansas. He supported a non-discrimination policy for employees in the Bentonville School District. (In other words: You can’t fire someone just because they are gay.) He’s in a three-way race for re-election. Opponents are Beth Haney, a former board member, and Eric White, who’s made it clear that the anti-discrimination policy is a burr in his saddle.
How do you get from a non-discrimination policy to bathrooms? It’s easy for the haters.
Who’s paying for the mailer? Good question. So-called Christians (think Duggars, for example) have been waving the gay hysteria flag in Washington and Benton Counties for some time now and spending money to do so. You can bet their ilk is at the bottom of this.
This is the kind of direct electioneering that should be covered thoroughly by campaign finance disclosure laws. I don’t need to remind you that Republican opposition in the legislature has stymied just such accountability legislation by Rep. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock.
These Christians like to fire from cover. And false witness is just one of their tools.
You can scrub up Bentonville all you want with Walton museums, Walton-financed restaurants, a Walton-passed liquor law and Walton-financed trails. But you just might find that all those amenities and all that money aren’t enough to persuade some people to move into a pit of religious vipers.
UPDATE: More hate mail from the cowards. Suspicion points to a conservative political group that has received funding from the Duggars in the past because that group includes a key supporter of White in its number.