Alabama State Senator Scott Beason is the hero of the immigration battle in his state. He was the prime mover of HB56 in the Senate; it was eventually passed by both houses and signed into law by the governor this past June. Whites in the legislature voted 88-to-1 for the bill, blacks 27-to-5 against. Of course, together with Arizona’s similar bill, it has been the subject of much denunciation.
Like Russell Pearce in Arizona, Beason instantly became the focus of immigration enthusiast ire, and they set out to get him. Now we learn from a story in The Huntsville [AL] Times that they have succeeded.
How? I doubt that you need more than one guess. They effectively employed their arsenal of “racist” allegations. But, as in Arizona, they would not have succeeded without the connivance of Beason’s own Republican colleagues.
You see, Scott Beason is twice a hero in Alabama. In addition to the immigration issue, he has assiduously applied himself in fighting the corrupt gamblers who infest the state. He wore a wire for the FBI, gathered incriminating evidence, and testified for days in court. A re-trial is in the offing, and certainly he will be involved again. It is a detail of this scandal, completely unrelated to immigration, that was used to attack Beason. And it is all based on a single word.
Here is the way The Huntsville Times put it:
“Beason’s now infamous remark came to light during the summer’s bingo vote-buying trial. Beason wore a wire for the FBI agents in the case. But Beason also recorded himself and other Republicans talking about Greenetrack [a local gambling enterprise] and economic development in predominately black Greene County.
‘’ ‘That’s y’alls Indians,’’ said then-Rep. Benjamin Lewis of Dothan.
“ ‘They’re aborigines, but they’re not Indians,’’ Beason retorted.”
Bill's sponsor booted from leadership post | Removal related to calling black casino patrons ‘aborigines’, By Kim Chandler, Huntsville Times, November 16, 2011 [Not online. Some more is quoted here.]
So there it is, you see—the use of that awful word “aborigine.”
A storm ensued, fueled by blacks, liberals, and all those who worship Political Correctness. Beason, as all could see, had convicted himself. He was an abject racist.
As is the custom after being accused of racism, Beasley apologized. Again according to the Huntsville paper:
“Beason apologized for the remark in a September news conference, [Video] saying it was out of his character and he doesn’t know why he said it or exactly what he’d meant.
‘’ ‘As I have stated before, I do not know where that word came from or why it popped in my head that day. Nevertheless, the comments were careless and unnecessary. ‘’’
I may be able to give Sen. Beason a little help here. I think I know why he said it and what he meant.
The Oxford English Dictionary is the undisputed ultimate authority on the meanings of words in the English language. And the following definition, quoted in pertinent part, is germane:
sing. aborigine (see etym.).
1. a. The original inhabitants of a country; originally, the race of the first possessors of Italy and of Greece, afterwards extended to races supposed to be the first or original occupants of other countries.
2. spec. The natives found in possession of a country by Europeans who have gone thither as colonists.
The American Indians clearly fall under the definition of aborigines. The black inhabitants of Greene County do not, and it was a linguistic error for Beason so to call them. Or was it? We shall see presently.
Beason, then, was speaking metaphorically and making a legitimate analogy between the Indians in America and the blacks in Greene County.
There is nothing for him to apologize for here. And his one mistake was in doing so.
But even with the apology, the complainers piled on. Many outrageous things were said—but none so outrageous as those from the judge who presided at the gambling trial. As reported in The Huntsville Times:
“The federal judge who presided over the vote-buying trial joined the chorus of criticism in October when he issued a blistering ruling disparaging the motivations of Beason and [another witness], who also testified during the trial.
‘’ ‘The evidence introduced at trial contradicts the self-serving portrait of Beason and [the other witness] as untouchable opponents of corruption. In reality Beason and [the other witness] had ulterior motives rooted in naked political ambition and pure racial bias, ‘ District Judge Myron Thompson wrote.
I think it is obvious who has the racial bias in this case. Thompson, the paper says ‘’joined the chorus.” And yes, he certainly did. The actual verdict was a mistrial, for reasons having nothing to do with Beason, and some not guilty verdicts, but Thompson ruled that Beason’s testimony would be admissible in the new trial.
‘’Ulterior’’ means hidden. How is it that Judge Thompson was able to discern what was hidden within the witnesses? Is he psychic? I think not. Thompson’s outburst was likely a product of his own anger and bias—hardly what is expected from a good judge.
But the worst is yet to tell. It is one thing for Republicans’ political enemies to attack one of their best. But for the Republicans themselves to turn on one of their own when he is under unfair attack is unforgiveable.
The Republican leadership in the Alabama Senate ignominiously caved in. Once again I quote from The Huntsville Times article:
“Republican Senate leaders on Tuesday ousted Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, from his powerful Rules Committee chairmanship as part of the continuing fallout from Beason’s calling people at a predominately black casino ‘aborigines’.”
“Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, on Tuesday announced the change in leadership and said the move is indefinite. Marsh said the tension and controversy surrounding Beason’s remark, along with his testifying as the legislative session begins early next year in the retrial of the [gambling case], would be a distraction while Senate Republicans tried to advance their legislative agenda.”
The committee voted remove Beason 5-to-1. Beason himself was a member of the committee and, to his credit, his was the dissenting vote.
Being a member of the Alabama Republican Party myself, I hate to be overly critical, but our leaders have not distinguished themselves in this instance. (You should see how I wrote the latter sentence the first time!) By removing Beason, they implicitly admitted that he did something wrong. But he didn’t. Such actions as this just encourage the demigods to intensify their attacks and make more trouble.
And all of this over a single word. The response should have been:
“Understand the meaning of the word ‘aborigine.’ Get your feelings off your sleeve. And grow up! ‘’