Brazen Bigots

The place: a city in Texas

The setting: a city council hearing on a local construction project

The chair: the wife of a powerful white Republican Congressman

What happened? Black residents of the city were told to their faces they should leave the hearing. A black labor leader who argued that the project would bring in good jobs was told by the chair, “Those workers look like you; they don’t look like me.”

I think we all know that if this happened, it would be the end of the political careers of the Congressman and his wife; that the national media storm would swamp all other news for weeks, making the Trent Lott story look puny by comparison; that the GOP’s national leadership would be compelled to offer one groveling apology after another; that liberals would raise this as a talking point in discussions of every issue, no matter how unrelated, for the rest of our natural lives.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened in Detroit, (H/T) only the races and parties were reversed:

Speakers advocating for the deal were taunted by the crowd and cut short by Council President Monica Conyers [the wife of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers], who presided over the hearing like an angry bulldog; whites were advised by the citizens to, “Go home.”

Opponents were allowed to rant and ramble on uninterrupted about “those people” who want to steal Detroit’s assets and profit from the city’s labors.

A pitiful Teamster official who practically crawled to the table on his knees expressing profuse respect for this disrespectful body was battered by both the crowd and the council.

When he dared suggest that an improved Cobo Center would create more good-paying jobs for union workers, Conyers reminded him, “Those workers look like you; they don’t look like me.”

Desperate, he invoked President Barack Obama’s message of unity and was angrily warned, “Don’t you say his name here.”

Meanwhile, back in Washington, her husband is pursuing his own vendetta against people who don’t look like him as he prepares to question Karl Rove :

[O]n Monday, lawyers for Bush and President Obama reached a deal that will allow Rove to be deposed by the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. John Conyers, Michigan Democrat.

“We’re closing in on Rove,” Conyers was overheard saying by two people just off the House floor last year. “Someone’s got to kick his ass.”

Democratic leaders in Congress should be pressed to answer the questions: do they approve of Monica Conyers’ open racism? And if John Conyers can’t or won’t denounce his wife’s open bigotry in a powerful government position, how can they continue to employ him as the chairman of a powerful commitee, one that oversees among other things the equal enforcement of the law?