Oregon’s Week in Racism: Elected Officials Edition

Oregon Senator Dennis Linthicum and Albany City Councilor Rich Kellum give Mike Nearman a run for his racist money.

Oregon has a thing with electing racist politicians. Oregon State Senator Dennis Linthicum (R, Klamath Falls) has come under fire for some questionable comments on the Senate floor regarding the Three-Fifths compromise, a 1787 doctrine designating black slaves as three-fifths of a person, regarding population count for congressional district-drawing purposes. 

Sen. Linthicum declared the compromise as not at all racist, weighing in on the centuries-old debate as to whether or not slavery was racist. 

“The three-fifths vote was actually to eliminate the overwhelming influence the slave states would have in representative government,” he explained, saying that the founding fathers did not believe that “three-fifths was an appropriate measure of a man,” also weighing in on the decades old debate as to whether or not the founding fathers were racist. 

This flabbergasting statement was in response to the Oregon measure to enter the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.” The compact would pledge all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote, which many states have already joined. The compact will take effect if 270 electoral votes enter into it, and the bill has since passed the Oregon Senate. 

Corvallis’ State Senator Sara Gelser pushed back on Linthicum’s remarks, saying “Humans are humans, 100 percent, every day.” 

Two Oregon State Senators, both black men, later confronted Linthicum about his remarks. One of them, Sen. James Manning (D-Eugene) referred to his remarks as an “offensive mischaracterization” of history. 

This wasn’t Linthicum’s first experience with RIP (racism in public). When Eric Garner was choked to death in the street by the NYPD for selling loose cigarettes, Linthicum sent out an email blaming Garner’s death on excessive tobacco taxes. 

In racism news that’s closer to home, Albany City Councilor Rich Kellum took some time off from calling Joy Behar a b*tch to blast some bigotry of his own via his personal Facebook page. He shared a photo of one of the 9/11 World Trade Center explosions and wrote “there is a reason that some folks cannot be trusted.” I realize that Mr. Kellum might cite plausible deniability regarding this post, but he was without a doubt referencing the new U.S. representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women elected to congress.   

Rep. Omar, a Somali-American Muslim, has been called “un-American” and worse by prominent right-wing figures, and villainized by outlets like Fox News and the New York Post. These attacks have resulted in numerous death threats against the Minnesota Congressperson, including one from a New York man who called her office and said that he would “put a bullet in her f*cking skull.” 

With this kind of rhetoric, Rich Kellum is helping to create an environment that might very well result in the harm or murder of a U.S. Congresswoman. Who’s the dangerous one, again? 

By Jay Sharpe