“You can have as many babies as you want.... But when you start asking the government to take care of them, the government now ought to have some control over you.... For people like that I would be for something like Norplant, mandatory Norplant.”Just kidding! That wasn’t Russell Pearce, it was then-Washington Mayor, and still Washington City Councilman, Marion Barry in 1994. [Welfare Queens And Other Fairy Tales, by Catherine R. Albiston and Laura Beth Nielsen, Howard Law Journal, 1995]
Instead, Pearce said on his radio show:
“You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. … Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”Pearce walked back on his comments, saying “I shared comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author.” Nevertheless, Pearce resigned his position as vice chairman of the State GOP. [AZGOP’s 1st Vice Chairman Resigns, AZGOP press release, September 14, 2014]
I certainly take Pearce at his word. He never backed down from controversial statements, even when he was in the State House and Senate, and so I don’t see why he would backtrack now that he’s out of office, and was prepared to resign from the position anyway.
Furthermore, Pearce is the type of person who will often repeat articles and ideas he finds interesting without thinking about the consequences from the PC inquisitors. In 2006, he forwarded an email titled “Who Rules America” (spoiler alert, they say it’s the Jews) from the National Alliance, a group definitely further to the Right than VDARE.com. See the SPLC’s report on this “incident”: Arizona State Rep. Candidate Russell Pearce Distributes Article From Neo-Nazi National Alliance Website Intelligence Report, Winter 2006, which quotes Pearce as saying "Oops."
Pearce explained that he read the first few paragraphs, which simply discussed how the media shaped public opinion without mentioning anything heretical. Again, I think Pearce’s explanation suffices. If he had been a secret neo-Nazi, he would have known who the National Alliance was to begin with, and not sent an e-mail that would have “outed” him.
As a public official at the forefront of the battle against illegal immigration, Pearce often ended up being “linked” to various “extremists.” Several years ago, I talked to him about a few of these situations, and it was clear that he did not share their views—but did not like to play the SPLC ($PLC to VDARE.com) game of witch-hunting everyone. He felt he was responsible for his views and those alone. I can easily see him discussing a provocative idea without considering how this could be viewed as endorsing hate speech.
Significantly, however, the Left is not spinning the Pearce affair an example of GOP racism, but as more “War on Women.”
Thus the Arizona Republic’s Laurie Roberts opined: “Now the hero of the GOP has weighed in on women, saying on his weekly radio show that there should be forced sterilization if they dare to apply for government help.” [Russell Pearce implodes (again), September 15, 2014]
And looking through the 1000+ comments on the Huffington Post article on Pearce, it’s notable that almost all the outraged Leftists focused, not on the idea that people should be “sterilized,” but that Pearce did not also call for men to get vasectomies. [After Saying Women On Medicaid Should Be Sterilized, Russell Pearce Resigns From Arizona GOP, By Paige Lavender, Huffington Post, September 15, 2014]
The most popular comment:
Hey, I thought the GOP didn't believe in birth control... Discrimination talk Mr Pearce what about male recipients don't you want to get them vasectomies too.The third most popular:
Notice how he does not say anything about the men producing these children. Strange how republicans never want to hold men “responsible” only women.Of course, there is no male equivalent of Norplant. And, as I will note shortly, many snarky leftists support sterilization behind closed doors.
(On a side note, in 2011, under the leadership of then-Senate President Russell Pearce, Arizona passed a silly piece of legislation banning race- and sex-specific abortions. The bill was an attempt at PC judo, trying to turn the alleged Republican War on Women in to the “Democratic war on female and black babies.” [HB2443] But despite the Politically correct premise, the ACLU sued the state on the grounds that the law was, you guessed it, racist. [Arizona Race And Sex-Selective Abortion Ban Draws ACLU Lawsuit, By Bob Christie, AP, June 29, 2013])
I don’t know how either issue would end up on a national referendum, but in my experience, most everyone who is not against birth control or a fanatical “anti-racist” will heartily endorse conditioning welfare on taking birth control and giving dead-beat dads vasectomies—after a few drinks, behind closed doors. I find many self-proclaimed liberals support this position—they often point to the movie Idiocracy—though they seem to assume it’s mainly white Republican rednecks who would get sterilized.
With all these tangents said, Pearce obviously made a mistake. If he didn’t want to make a case for conditional welfare, then he shouldn’t have made the statement. And while I don’t think the vice-chair of the state GOP is that important a position, this will likely make it harder—though certainly not impossible—for him to make a political comeback.
Anyone who wants to criticize him for hurting the cause of patriotic immigration reform should remember that.
Alexander Hart (email him) is a conservative journalist