Gov. Schweitzer Accuses Montanans of Racism
Says He Expects to Hear Outrageously Racist Comments in Public
BY DUSTIN HURST
Politico recently wrote that Montana Governor. Brian Schweitzer’s rhetorical prowess is a valuable asset and a dangerous liability for his future political ambitions.
Case in point: On July 28, Schweitzer delivered the keynote address at the Ohio Democratic Party’s annual dinner. In the speech, he told a gripping tale of his grandmother immi-grating to the United States to start a new life.
In the same address, Schweitzer dipped into darker rhetoric, casting white Montanans as racist toward American Indians.
Through his 30-minute speech to Ohio Democrats, Schweitzer repeatedly boasted of his gubernatorial achievements, putting special emphasis on the Indian Education for All project. Schweitzer spearheaded the program, which requires Montana school children to learn both American-Indian and U.S. history.
Why did Schweitzer shepherd the innovative and groundbreaking program? Well, because many Montanans are white, racist rednecks—the governor’s words.
“All over Montana, you can walk into a bar, a café or even a school or a courthouse and just listen for a while as people talk to each other,” Schweitzer explained, shortly after noting 93 percent of his state’s population is classified as Caucasian. “And you will hear somebody, before very long, say something outrageously racist about the people who’ve lived in Montana for 10,000 years.”
The video was posted at the website Plunderbund, was blocked from public viewing, but has since been restored.
Having labeled a broad swath of Montanans as irreparably racist, the governor said he delivered the educational program to sway the minds and hearts of Treasure State youngsters. “…I decided I can’t turn the heart of a 45-year-old redneck,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer’s speech was a stunning rhetorical reversal from his stance during an April trip to New York City, including an appearance on David Letterman, to promote Montana as a paradise for tourists.
“Best place in the world to take your family,” Schweitzer said of his home state during a stop in Times Square to hand out Montana jerky and jam.
Schweitzer visited New York to promote a new direct flight from New Jersey to Bozeman. “With this new direct flight, we’re giving our friends from the New York area convenient access to the most spectacular places and experiences they will encounter in the lower 48 states,” Schweitzer said in a news release. “And we’ll deliver it with our customary Western hospitality.”
The governor’s Ohio remarks makes one wonder, though, if he should have alerted New Yorkers about Montanans, rather than espouse Western hospitality.
Also noteworthy is Schweitzer’s dip into hot water after he discussed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s roots in a polygamous sect in Mexico. Schweitzer was talking with the Daily Beast just days before his New York City getaway.
“I am not alleging by any stretch that Romney is a polygamist and approves of (the) polygamy lifestyle, but his father was born into (a) polygamy commune in Mexico,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer then sought to add fuel to the so-called Republican War on Women. He commented that women are generally uncomfortable with polygamy, and that Romney is a byproduct of the practice.
The governor never walked back his remarks, instead doubling down in a subsequent interview with CNNs Anderson Cooper.
Editor’s note: Having lived in Montana for 25 years and frequented the kind of venues the governor cites (on occasion with Native Americans), and having witnessed racist attitudes elsewhere in urban areas for years, this editor rejects Gov. Schweitzer’s accusation of inevitable racism in Montana—and while racism exists, the brush with which he paints Montana is wildly broad and defamatory, the likely reason being (having heard his speech) that the governor did so to impress out-of-state political interests and further his own aspirations by presenting himself as a noble crusader for racial equality. To put it mildly, exploiting race in that way speaks poorly of Brian Schweitzer.