Salt Lake County Republican Party chairman James Evans is having fun making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill, deciding this week to ask the Salt Lake City Council to reprimand Mayor Rocky Anderson for using the word, “slavish” during his speech at the anti-war protest held at City Hall last week.
In the speech, Anderson lashed back at Evans and the rest of the Republican Party for launching a particularly nasty radio-ad campaign asking party members to bombard the mayor’s office in opposition to his participation in the rally. Anderson said during his speech, “So James Evans and these folks who financed this massive radio campaign these last few days, let them understand that blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism. A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.”
Evans, who is African-American, claims that Mayor Anderson chose the word specifically as a racial slur to get under his skin, telling Wendy Leonard of the Deseret Morning News,
“I have no doubt it was purposeful, anyone he disagrees with or has disdain for, he’s not above trying to offend them.”
Evans drafted a letter to his district councilman, Carlton Christensen on Wednesday asking the council to censure Mayor Anderson for using the offending term as well as posting his entire speech on the city’s Web site.
Evans also takes issue with the fact that Anderson used city personnel to respond to press inquiries and set up interviews for Anderson regarding the protest, which was not an official city function, again talking to the D-News,
“It’s just a misuse of city resources for the mayor’s political agenda.”
While Evans’ kerfuffle over the mayor’s choice of words made little impact on the city council, which currently have no intention to discuss censuring the mayor, Councilman Christensen did, in response to Evan’s grievance about the city’s Web site, draft a letter to the city’s attorney asking that the mayor’s speech be removed.
For Mayor Anderson’s part, he responded with disgust to the accusation that he used the word, “slavish” with any racist implications toward Chairman Evans, saying in an email, “I didn’t even refer to James or the Republicans who financed the recent radio campaign against dissent in my written speech but was moved while delivering the speech to make reference to them because of their partisan support of this disastrous presidency.”
It would be negligent not to mention the mayor’s history as a civil rights attorney and advocate or his now internationally famous reputation as a dyed in the wool “lib-nut.”
While we can’t deny the mayor’s well-documented temper, we also can’t deny that he’s spent the better part of his life working and striving for social equality.
Chairman Evans maintains that the mayor was retaliating against him, “He knew what he was doing. He always retaliates.”
The chairman’s insistence that the mayor intentionally targeted him with a “racist remark” does raise some interesting questions as to the volatility of language and how almost any word can be misconstrued when context and intention are either disregarded or willfully obscured.
There’s no word on whether Evans is as concerned about the city money required to hire extra people to field the onslaught of harassing phone calls to the mayor’s office at his behest.