Elected officials have duty to denounce bigotry

In the wake of the deadly shootings in El Paso and Dayton, another renewed debate has emerged about the role of guns in society, mental health services, hatred and racism.

While this discussion plays out on a national scale, there is an eerie silence from elected officials in West Virginia.

The last several months of the legislative sessions have demonstrated that far too often elected officials in West Virginia have allowed a fealty to the president or party leadership dictate their ability to speak on critical issues of racism, xenophobia, homophobia and bigotry.

Consider in the immediate aftermath of the Dayton shooting, a state representative in Ohio connected the recent shooting to "drag queen advocates," "fatherlessness," "the Dem Congress," and "snowflakes."

By the end of the day, the leader of the Ohio Republican Party was calling on the representative to resign from her seat as the story exploded into national news. Rightfully so.

Contrast this with state senators and delegates in the Mountain State. When a state senator penned "The Shame of LGBTQ Pride" in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel in June, the state Republican Party chair shared the post, calling comments not to judge fellow citizens "typical," and "the usual rhetoric."

This came just months after a delegate compared LGBT citizens to the KKK. Shamefully, few leaders spoke then. No one resigned.

Freed of any consequences from failing to speak then, why would we expect different now?

Jason Neal



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