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Arkansas Pols: Slavery and Segregation Weren’t So Bad

We don’t generally dip into the deep, colorful well of state and local politics, but this epic PR Fail was simply too good to pass up.

Two different Arkansas natives, each of whom hold public office and would like the voters in their districts to re-elect them this year, have made some very dubious statements about certain…elements of our country’s history.

State Representative Jon Hubbard, who’s running this year to represent District 58 again, has some great instincts when it comes to DIY PR: He wrote and self-published a book titled Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative that’s currently available for download on Amazon for $3.99. We have to admire anyone with the discipline to write a 236-page book without any sort of advance. Now let’s examine the quotes that have brought so much attention to this decorated Vietnam vet.

Here’s Hubbard on slavery:

“…the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”

Hey, that’s not so bad, is it? Wonder what he thinks about segregation?

“… one of the stated purposes of school integration was to bring black students up to a level close to that of white students. But, to the great disappointment of everyone, the results of this theory worked exactly in reverse of its intended purpose, and instead of black students rising to the educational levels previously attained by white students, the white students dropped to the level of black students. To make matters worse the lack of discipline and ambition of black students soon became shared by their white classmates, and our educational system has been in a steady decline ever since.”

Oh, we get it: If only our school system had stayed segregated by race, we would still be leading the world in math and science.

Once these writings earned national attention, state officials quickly condemned them—yet donations continue to pour in as of this week—and when pressed on his views, Hubbard wrote a letter defending his book! It’s almost like he found himself in a hole and just kept digging.

The best part about this story is the fact that it extends beyond Rep. Hubbard. Fellow Representative Loy Mauch (cool name), currently running for re-election in District 26, has shared some similar sentiments with the editors of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

“… If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”

Good point! We do admire his ability to use conditional verbs. And, again, this guy continues to receive donations from both inside and outside his home state. We would get into discussing the candidate who advocates the death penalty for rebellious children, but we’ve probably done enough damage already.

We resist stereotyping the American South as a collection of backwoods hillbillies with offensive retrograde opinions. (Full disclosure: Your editor is a native of South Carolina and will defend his home state in spite of its many…contradictions.) But these guys are just too easy.

What do these stories have to do with PR? Well, they’re certainly useful examples of how not to make a good impression on people outside your (hermetically sealed) district. As elections approach, we think they also serve as healthy reminders of the incredibly, unbelievably wide variety of perspectives contained within our great United States. And we hope that the national attention directed toward Hubbard and Mauch will help voters think twice about the men who represent them.

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