Idaho’s Marc Johnson on Bundy, Sterling and a ‘post-racial America’

Marc Johnson, the former spokesman and chief of staff to former Idaho Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus, has a provocative piece about his takeaway from recent news about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

“So much for a post-racial America,” begins Johnson’s essay Monday, which appears on his blog, “The Johnson Post.”

Of Bundy, Johnson writes that “a few pandering Republicans turned a deadbeat Nevada rancher into a ‘folk hero’ before his own ignorant ravings about race showed every thinking person just what Cliven Bundy is really all about.”

Not among them was Idaho GOP Congressman Raul Labrador, who last week said he was uncomfortable with the lionization of Bundy — on the eve of the news that Bundy figures it’s time to revive slavery.

I recommend Johnson’s opinion in full, but for you lazybones, here’s how he finishes:

The U.S. Supreme Court tells us a lot, as well. The Court’s 2013 ruling throwing out a major part of the Voting Rights Act and more recently upholding a Michigan law that bans race conscious admissions at the state’s colleges and universities are based either on wishful thinking that racial issues in the age of Obama still don’t bedevil our culture or that the courts simply have an extremely limited role in ensuring that all Americans are not merely created equal, but are treated that way, as well. Either explanation ignores today’s front page.

It seems self evident that Barack Obama’s election in 2008 not only failed to herald the arrival of a post-racial America, but rather stoked the long simmering fires of racism that were, we need to remember, originally written into the nation’s founding creed. An ignorant Nevada cowboy and the boob billionaire owner of a professional sports franchise certainly don’t represent the vast sweep of good and decent Americans of all races, creeds, colors and political persuasions, but they still represent too many.

“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything,” Obama said of Donald Sterling. “You just let them talk. That’s what happened here.”

Oh, if only it were that easy.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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