When I decided to run for the US House of Representatives, I thought I would be talking about the issues I was passionate about such as health care, LGBTQ rights, education, and campaign financing. I never imagined I would be writing about ferreting out and ridding ourselves of the pernicious white nationalist movement in our executive branch.
Even more frightening than Donald Trump’s ties to white nationalists are the Nazi sympathizers in the GOP. We skirt around the issue, carefully choosing our words not to offend when the deeds of these individuals are inherently offensive. It is easier to tear down the symbols of racism than it is to discuss it. We will never solve a problem if we are unwilling to examine it.
We don’t like talking about the ugly underbelly of our past, like how we stole land from the Native Americans and spread diseases, and then built a world empire on the backs of a slave labor force. We rarely discuss the more embarrassing aspects of our founding fathers’ lives, such as their mistresses and illegitimate children. We celebrate civil rights milestones without acknowledging that these strides took way too long for our nation to achieve.
On the one hand, we have the identity we promote to the world, an image of progressiveness we have never quite made, the stuff of propaganda that we use to market our country. We love that America. It is this idea that we strive for – the torch-bearing Statue of Liberty, the land of opportunity where everyone has the right to pursue happiness. If you look out from our great cities and squint your eyes, you can almost see the amber waves of grain. Almost.
But we all know that for many Americans, this nation is not the apple pie and flag-waving parades of the GOP platform. If you are straight, white, privileged and Evangelical Christian, you likely experience the world where the issue of racism is but a challenging and vague concept. For the rest of us, we only dream of such a nation.
Many of us less-fortunate souls live in a world where discrimination is a reality, so we know racism exists. A hostile cop pulls us over and stares at our license simply because our skin is too dark. We get dirty looks and nasty comments in a store because we are wearing a hajib. We are passed over for a promotion because we are too old. Kids at school beat us up because we’re gay.
Of those of us who experience these things, must we ask if there is racism in America?
Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, discrimination and outright racism are alive and thriving in 21st century America. So, let’s talk about it and stop pretending it doesn’t exist. Let’s start with sometimes subtle and often overt racism in this country and who is driving it.
Let’s start with our leaders in Washington. Who is supporting this white nationalist movement, and who is speaking out against it?
While it is clear my opponent, Trent Franks represents everything wrong in this nation such as how money and power are consolidated at the top while ignoring the needs of the people, there is a much more dangerous problem festering below the surface which should be of concern to everyone, not just Arizonans.
His support of Nazi sympathizers.
Right now, one of Donald Trump’s oldest advisors is Sebastian Gorka. He was appointed deputy assistant, but it is unclear exactly what role he serves. It has been reported he was denied a security clearance.
Gorka has been seen wearing a pin linked to a Nazi-allied group in Hungary, Vitézi Rend, an organization purportedly under the direction of the Nazi government during WWII. He has been accused of pandering to white supremacists. A whole slew of people opposed his affiliation with the White House, including 55 congress people, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and several Jewish groups. He remained, and our so-called leaders did nothing about it.
His wife, Katharine Cornell Gorka, is now an adviser to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security policy office. There is far more to the story, and a good read is a recent article in Rolling Stone.
This issue of Gorka has never been adequately addressed. But it raises another question, one that is more concerning — the Nazi sympathizers in the GOP.
In February of this year, Trent Franks went on the offensive and said, “Sebastian Gorka’s service to the nation, his reputation, and his national security credentials are all unimpeachable.” No evidence was provided, no proof offered, but merely his declaration and alignment of someone of a questionable background at best, and a Nazi sympathizer at worst.
No one challenged him on this. No one asked why Franks is supporting this man. No one questioned what other ties Franks might have to such organizations. Why are we so afraid to ferret out the white nationalists in our own government?
So, I am challenging. I am asking. I want answers, and I am sure you do, too.
My name is Brianna Westbrook, and I am running for the US House of Representatives in 2018. I ask for your support, but more importantly, I want you to ask the difficult questions.