State Treasurer Walker Stapleton did not choose a weak, distant and questionable link to the Ku Klux Klan. One cannot say the same of his opponent, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.
Like Stapleton, Polis has a weak, distant and questionable link to the Klan. Unlike Stapleton, he chooses it.
This topic arises because The Denver Post’s news department stretches and exploits Klan legacy in a quest to defeat Stapleton and elect Polis in the November gubernatorial race. Post reporters unwisely followed a feckless report by The New York Times, which underestimates Colorado’s smart electorate.
A Post headline Sunday shouts “Family history in spotlight.” A picture of Stapleton abuts the subhead “Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is the great-grandson of a Denver mayor notorious for his role in the Klan.”
One expects this messaging from a sophomoric political action committee, not The Denver Post’s news department.
Benjamin Stapleton was the Democratic mayor of Denver for five terms beginning nearly 100 years ago. His political career began when Democratic President and Klan apologist Woodrow Wilson appointed him Postmaster. For Democrats, election often meant appeasing the Klan.
As explained by The History Channel, the Klan became a movement of “resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks.”
And this: “Though Congress passed legislation designed to curb Klan terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal — the re-establishment of white supremacy — fulfilled through Democratic victories...”
Benjamin Stapleton belonged to the Klan for two years in office. Two years after his inauguration, he turned on the Klan and ordered the Good Friday vice raids on city government. The operations exposed a dozen Klansmen in the Police Department, whom Stapleton fired. The Klan ejected Stapleton.
The Times and the Post ignore Stapleton turning on the Klan, as these details do not help them taint his great-grandson as a monster.
The Republican nominee did not choose his great-grandfather. Walker Stapleton chose this, instead: the pro-minority political party his great-grandfather, and the Klan, tried to destroy.
Walker Stapleton chooses the party that frowns upon Wilson. As president of Princeton, from which Polis graduated, Wilson discouraged blacks from seeking admission. Wilson forgave the Klan’s routine lynching of blacks “as a lawless reaction to a lawless period.” Democrat Wilson opposed voting rights for blacks as a “menace to society.”
Stapleton opposes that history by declining to join his great-grandfather’s party. Meanwhile, Princeton chooses to keep the name Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The Media do not ask Polis to explain or renounce the university he chose.
The Times and Post tarnish Stapleton for a genetic link he did not ask for. Given this illogical obsession, they should demand Polis answer to his more willful linkage to the Klan.
The Klan’s well-documented, historical alliance with Polis’ party cannot be denied or marginalized. Polis chooses the party, registers with it, and proudly represents it.
If Stapleton must answer for century-old behavior of a relative he never knew, Polis should answer for the legacy of a party he embraces and promotes.
Although Stapleton never met his great-grandfather, Polis chose to side with a man who led the Klan and never renounced it. Polis voted with former Senate Democratic Majority leader Robert Byrd on the Affordable Care Act and other legislation.
Byrd founded a large chapter of the Klan. He recruited 150 members who elected him their “Exalted Cyclops.” Unlike Stapleton’s distant dead relative, Byrd never double-crossed or renounced the Klan. The Klan never ejected him. Byrd filibustered the Civil Rights Act. He used the N-word on national TV three times this century.
The Gazette is not The Denver Post or The New York Times and won’t imply Polis approves of the Klan. In fact, we assert neither candidate remotely supports the Klan’s evil ideology. We assume few modern Democrats approve of the Klan, despite the party’s close and longstanding ties to the hate group.
Nonetheless, objectivity in news coverage matters. Journalists who smear Stapleton, using a distant relative he never knew, cannot simultaneously ignore his opponent’s alliance with Byrd and the Klan’s party of choice.
The news media should stop acting like a branch of the Democratic Party and the Polis campaign. End this moronic, embarrassing narrative. Colorado voters are not that stupid. This idiocy stands to backfire on Polis — the candidate our established, left-wing media hope to elect.