By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN, Neb. – The chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party says a new member of Nebraska State Board of Education should resign, just days after he took office, because a blog he founded called President Obama a “half-breed” Monday.
Pat McPherson doesn’t intend to resign, but now he says he’s going to shutter the blog. McPherson founded and frequently posts on the provocative Objective Conservative blog, which published a post Monday morning that started out with:
“Now our great Black Leader (actually, if he were a Republican the liberals would call him what he is–a half-breed) in Washington wants to give everyone a free community college education. It wasn’t enough to give them free cell phones and free health care, but now in his ‘cradle-to-the-grave’ mentality he wants to give folks a free two year education in community college … .”
McPherson is a former Douglas County election commissioner who was elected in November to represent Douglas County on the state Board of Education, which sets policy for the state.
“I’m calling on Governor Ricketts (to) demand he resign,” Vince Powers, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said in an interview. “We can’t have a racist on the state board of education.”
McPherson responded to Powers’ outrage by having the blog post removed Monday afternoon and disavowing it, saying it was posted by a contributor, not him, and wasn’t vetted by him.
“I strongly disavow the racist tones evident in the piece and again will take appropriate action to assure such inappropriate content is not posted in the future by that contributor or any other,” he wrote.
The blog frequently posts items anonymously authored by “Objective Conservative,” while others are labeled by the name of the contributor. The Monday post was simply tagged “Objective Conservative.”
In a Monday interview with Nebraska Watchdog, McPherson denied writing the post, saying, “Generally when I’m going to write something, it has my name on it.”
He declined to name the author.
“It’s a blog. I have a number of contributors,” he said. “I made sure that the party who wrote it took it down.”
After the Omaha World-Herald followed up on the story, McPherson told the paper he intends to shut down the blog.
Powers said McPherson could easily resolve the matter by revealing who wrote the “racist garbage.”
“He is co-editor. If a teacher was co-editor of a blog that posted racist garbage, the board of which he is a member would require she or he to disclose the identity of the person. Is McPherson covering up for another GOP official? He needs to tell his constituents who is the author.”
McPherson said he wasn’t sure whether he’d continue to write for the blog, but said if he does, “it’ll be under my name.”
The blog has been tough on Obama before, calling him an empty suit and “a president no one respects and no one trusts” in 2013.
And an unsigned 2012 post questioned a program to help poor black women in north Omaha, saying, “This is just one more program that we need because blacks can’t take care of themselves. Black teens kill each other in the streets because government hasn’t done enough for them. They can’t find their way to polling places because of voter suppression. They can’t get jobs because they can’t learn, because they have inferior schools, although we’re happy to spend thousands of dollars transporting them to any school they want to attend.”
Patrick Jones, an associate professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, also called on McPherson to resign. Jones, who is married to a biracial woman and whose expertise is in race relations, he said he was extremely troubled by the “racist comments” on the blog.
“I find McPherson’s disavowal and attempt to avoid responsibility for the racist posts on the blog he founded and co-edits, a bit too convenient and more than a little disingenuous,” he said via email, speaking for himself, not the university.
With just a few minutes of poking around on the blog, Jones said found four other entries that used the term “half breed,” all written by “Objective Conservative.”
“So the claim that this is a solitary, or isolated, incident just does not fly,” Jones said.
In addition, Jones said the site has “all kinds of really ugly articles that are derisive and denigrating toward African Americans, poor folks, Latinos, etc.”
“It isn’t that these posts are partisan, but that they are disdainful of these groups and loaded with all kinds of problematic stereotypes. This is simply unacceptable for someone whose duty is to represent the interests of all students in the state of Nebraska.”
While McPherson has the right to run a “racist and mean-spirited blog,” the question is whether he can serve on the state Board of Education in a fair, equitable way toward all children, Jones said.
“Furthermore, I hope that the new governor and other members of the state board will make public statements repudiating the views put forth on McPherson’s blog and supporting the call for him to resign,” he said. “This should not be a partisan issue.”
Others defended McPherson’s freedom of speech. Omaha radio talk show host Chris Baker of KFAB compared Powers’ demands for a resignation to “the ideology of Islamic terrorist(s) in France.”
“Vince Powers… apparently fails to see the irony on the day after the president is criticized for not showing up at the French Unity march against terrorism and supporting free speech,” Baker wrote. “Let’s check the score; The President had a white mother and a black father: so half breed (while archaic) is accurate.”
McPherson resigned as election commissioner in 2003 under pressure from former Gov. Mike Johanns after being charged with fondling a 17-year-old girl in a Red Robin mascot costume. He was acquitted and then sued the restaurant for defamation.
Updated 1 p.m. Tuesday
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