Several media outlets recently reported that the teenage son of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, whose given name is Tanner, used the screen name “n1ggerkiller” in an online game; he also posted YouTube comments using the word “nigger” and calling Mexicans “the scum of the Earth.” His Twitter account was littered with the word faggot, and he called a friend a “Jew” for stealing a joke.
According to a story in Slate, Nevada Rep. Joe Heck’s son Joey “posted equally stomach-turning comments to his Twitter account. In addition to his repeated use of “faggot” and “nigga,” he made anti-gay and anti-Mexican remarks, saying NFL quarterback “[Mark] Sanchez can hop the border faster than he can throw the ball” and retweeted “There are gays everywhere. Maybe that’s gods way of thinning out the population because faggots can’t have babies.” Being a politically minded young lad, he also commented that ABC’s Martha Raddatz should not have been a presidential debate moderator because she’s a woman and that Mitt Romney made Barack Obama his “slave” in a presidential debate. Heck also said that Obama’s main accomplishments as president were promoting the sports of “spear chucking and rock skipping. The sports they do in his home country…”
Both politicians were quick to disavow the posts, offering weak “boys will be boys” explanations, but as the article detailed, both Flake and Heck come from the fever swamp precincts of the GOP.
The apples, as we used to say, don’t fall far from the tree. Those of us who are parents are aware–often painfully aware–of the myriad ways in which our attitudes and language shape our children.
As the old song from South Pacific put it, “You have to be taught to hate.”
We all know that there are people like Flake and Heck, filled with animus, and twisted in ways that are hard to fathom. There have always been such people, and I assume there always will be. The more troubling question is: how do they get elected? Are the donors and voters who support them oblivious to these attitudes? Or do they share them?