National Politics

‘I detest white supremacy as much as I detest black nationalism,’ says Rep. Labrador

U.S. Congressman Raul Labrador during an April 19, 2017, town hall held at Meridian Middle School in Meridian, Idaho.
U.S. Congressman Raul Labrador during an April 19, 2017, town hall held at Meridian Middle School in Meridian, Idaho. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Three days after chaos and violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va., U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador finally issued a formal statement Tuesday, something his congressional colleagues from Idaho had already done.

“I have not issued a statement or made a comment about the events in Charlottesville because it’s not my style on these issues — and my constituents know that,” Labrador said in the statement. “Moreover, I do not make it a habit to insert myself into national tragedies because I do not feel these moments should be about me or about politics.

“But since some seem intent on pulling me into their discussion, I will say this: I do not discuss these issues publicly because they are very personal for me. I suspect I am the only member of the delegation or statewide political figure who knows what it is like to be judged, to be overlooked, to be pushed aside solely due to how I look, how I sound or what I believe. It is one of the main reasons I entered public service. I want to make sure every Idahoan has what I had: an opportunity to succeed regardless of their station in life at birth.

“I detest white supremacy as much as I detest black nationalism and other forms of identity politics. As a public servant, as a man of faith and as an American I abhor and condemn the violence, racism and bigotry we saw in Charlottesville. Racism and bigotry in all of their forms are abhorrent. In fact, I don’t know of an Idahoan who thinks otherwise. I also don’t know any Idahoans who believe that trite media statements will solve this nation’s problems or solve Idaho’s problems.

“The people of Idaho know me for my work and my actions. I am proud to say that the vast majority of Idahoans have always judged me by the content of my character rather than the color of my skin. That is a testament to the people of Idaho and the values we hold dear. We must stop dividing our nation and our people along ethnic, racial, social and political lines.”

Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson already issued statements condemning the violence and hatred and denouncing white supremacy and neo-Nazis. Earlier Tuesday, Gov. Butch Otter called on Labrador to make a statement.

President Donald Trump was met with controversy over his most recent statement about the violence in Charlottesville. On Tuesday, Trump again spread blame for the violence to counterprotesters who came to denounce the KKK, neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups gathering.

Labrador is leaving Congress to run for governor in 2018. Republican Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist also are vying for the post.

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