Patterico's Pontifications


‘I’m An American First’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:47 pm

[guest post by Dana]


In a revealing opening paragraph, the NYT looks at Republican hopeful, T. W. Shannon, who is running for the seat held by retiring Senator Tom Coburn.

T. W. Shannon will be Oklahoma’s first black senator if he wins the Republican nomination and is elected this November, but the quiet campaign stirring here about Mr. Shannon’s racial loyalties is not aimed at the African-American branch of his family tree. Mr. Shannon, whose first name is Tahrohon, is a member of the Chickasaw Nation…

Further into the article we learn that Mr. Shannon’s father is Chickasaw and his mother is black. His full name is Tahrohon Wayne Shannon and he is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Reading through the article, one learns that Mr. Shannon has been snared by identity politics and historical issues about citizenship unique to the state,

While identity politics — about race, religion or gender — has been a defining element of both parties for generations, Mr. Shannon adds a rare dimension. And he says he is uneasy about being the latest emblem of Republican diversity.

[A]n independent group, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, has already spent over $435,000 on his behalf since March. The group has received contributions from Indians, according to Republicans familiar with the donors who were not authorized to speak for the group.

“Btw, the Indians aren’t Oklahomans,” Robert Dan Robbins, a rancher and prominent supporter of Mr. Shannon’s chief primary opponent, Representative James Lankford, wrote on his own Facebook page. “They are a member of their own nation and are suing the state of Oklahoma over water rights and other things as well.”

A Tea Party group, in an open letter about Mr. Shannon, warned, “He has too many masters to serve,” and listed “Indian tribes” and Representative Tom Cole, a fellow Chickasaw and establishment-oriented Oklahoma Republican, among his suspect influences.

Then there are the differing reactions to him from prominent conservatives supporting him, ranging from the cringe worthy to the sound,

“His name alone!” Sarah Palin exclaimed at a large, nearly all-white rally of supporters for Mr. Shannon in Tulsa last month. “The Democrats accuse us of not embracing diversity? Oh, my goodness, he is — he’s it. He is the whole package”.

But other conservatives are plainly uncomfortable with such tactics. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who was also at the rally, said in an interview, “Rather than engage in identity politics and smear campaigns, which is the specialty, sadly, of the modern Democratic Party, we ought to be discussing how to turn this country around.”

To his credit, Shannon is finding his own way through the maze. J.C. Watts, former member of the House of Representatives, told Shannon regarding his racial background,

If you make it your issue, if you make it the focus of your campaign, then it will be.

Shannon explains that his racial background is just one part of his experience — not the defining moment.

I’m an American first, and that’s the most important thing.

No matter how much one tries to avoid it, it would appear that if a candidate’s skin color is any shade off white, identity politics is a given. One hopes that Shannon continues to remain uneasy about it. And one hopes, too, that if he is indeed the best person for the job, he will become the third American enrolled tribal member to join the United States Senate.

The entire article is worth reading, not only for the look at T.W. Shannon and identity politics, but as well as observing how the New York Times wrote about the issue.


23 Responses to “‘I’m An American First’”

  1. “…serving too many masters…”
    OMG, I hope he’s not a Roman Catholic?

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  2. You know, now that Summer is here, I have a hard time figuring out who is more Black when I see a two-shot of Obama and Boehner.

    askeptic (8ecc78)

  3. no matter what you do or who you are, the game is now rigged so you can’t win on merit alone.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  4. The Republican party has done “gracious” since the departure of Newt Gingrich from the Congressional leadership and look where it’s gotten us.

    Tit-for-tat is what works and Palin is among the very few conservatives who seems to have figured this out.

    Why is it so hard for conservatives to learn from their mistakes? Maybe we are a party of “clingers.”

    ThOR (130453)

  5. Uncle Geronimo

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  6. “Btw, the Indians aren’t Oklahomans,” Robert Dan Robbins, a rancher and prominent supporter of Mr. Shannon’s chief primary opponent, Representative James Lankford, wrote on his own Facebook page. “They are a member of their own nation and are suing the state of Oklahoma over water rights and other things as well.”

    Can they vote? Do they pay taxes? Then they are de facto citizens.

    mojo (6db70b)

  7. Robbins claim that Indians aren’t Oklahomans sounds suspiciously like gambit #1 straight from Obama’s dirty tricks campaign book: Disqualify your opponent.

    ropelight (04fb93)

  8. ==”theIndians aren’t Oklahomans==

    Elizabeth Warren call your office!

    elissa (43c1fb)

  9. i make a point of never exclaiming stuff at large, nearly all-white rallies

    it’s just not how i roll

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  10. that was not the whole story, do you not know the drill by now;

    narciso (3fec35)

  11. He’s the f***ing Speaker of the f***ing Oklahoma legislature and the Old Gray Waste of Trees finds a quote from a mouth breather questioning his Oklahoman status. Sheesh!

    nk (dbc370)

  12. I mean you don’t expect the Times to get the truth out do you;

    Palin wrote that Shannon, the youngest and one of the most conservative Speakers of the House in Oklahoma history, has “had to beat the odds all of his life” to eventually become “the first Republican to ever win his district’s seat in the Oklahoma state legislature even though the naysayers said it couldn’t be done. When he sought to be Speaker of the House, the naysayers said he was too young and too conservative to win. But his colleagues chose him anyway, and he became the youngest Speaker in Oklahoma history!”

    narciso (3fec35)

  13. Finally, a candidate that can deliver more legalized gambling and cheap smokes.

    carlitos (e7c734)

  14. Finally, a comment that can’t conceal the depths of your pettiness.

    ropelight (04fb93)

  15. She wouldn’t pick a candidate, just for their ethnicity, or their gender, of course Jonathan Martin, would leave that out,

    narciso (3fec35)

  16. Trouble in the land of the Red People:

    Breitbart has an article by Michael Patrick Leahy dated April 29, 2014 on a rift among conservatives over GOP candidates.


    A group of 32 local Oklahoma Tea Party, 9-12, and liberty movement activists have written an open letter disagreeing with a series of high-profile Tea Party affiliated individuals and groups who have endorsed the candidacy of former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon in the GOP Senate primary there.

    Shannon, who has taken a strong lead in polls, has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, Mike Lee, and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Recently, Ted Cruz also endorsed Shannon.

    But the activists, who mostly support businessman Randy Brogdon, say Shannon isn’t conservative enough for their liking.

    “As conservative grassroots leaders and activists from across the state of Oklahoma we are dismayed that you have endorsed T.W. Shannon for U.S. Senate without having fully researched and vetted the candidate,” the letter says…

    ropelight (04fb93)

  17. “Finally, a candidate that can deliver more legalized gambling and cheap smokes.”


    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  18. he once ran for Governor, once supported a referendum on changing petition rules, kind of small beer.

    narciso (3fec35)

  19. Unlike massachusetts, Oklahoma might have a Senator who is a Native American.

    Jim (145e10)

  20. 19. Comment by Jim (145e10) — 5/14/2014 @ 12:41 pm

    Unlike massachusetts, Oklahoma might have a Senator who is a Native American.

    And unlike Colorado, from 1993 until 2005. There was a strong question about that. What I could find now is this:

    It wasn’t until sometime in his early youth that Ben Nighthorse Campbell learned about his Native American heritage. Like so many Native Americans, his father had grown up in a time of shame for anyone with an Indian background. His father preferred to keep his ties to his roots a secret. According to the available evidence, his father was part Apache, part Pueblo Indian, and part Cheyenne, living part of his life with members of the Black Horse family on the Lame Deer reservation. Ben’s mother, born off the coast of Portugal, suffered with bouts of tuberculosis during Ben’s childhood.

    I think he claimed at different times different tribes, including one that’s definitely wrong, and got admitted to the Northern Cheyenne tribe.

    Wikipedia says this:

    Albert Campbell was of predominantly Northern Cheyenne descent but, according to Nighthorse Campbell biographer Herman Viola, Albert Campbell spent much of his youth in Crow Agency boarding school and may have had some Pueblo Indian and Apache Indian blood in his background as well.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  21. At least they didn’t call him a White Hispanic White Indian. Or an Indian Oklahoman.
    Or something.

    But naturally, he’s the worst thing that a person can be called among polite company at a NY Times cocktail party….he’s a conservative.

    Elephant Stone (6a6f37)

  22. narciso @ 12,

    I don’t object to Palin’s statement, just the part where she felt compelled to justify and point out the right’s diversity. Why explain our side’s selection of candidates, or compare us with the Dems (Look, we’re diverse just like you!). We owe them nothing, and we don’t need to justify our selections of candidates. I think it’s cheap and makes us look weak. Let the candidate’s own life, principles and platform speak for itself.

    Dana (9f8700)

  23. Dana, you note how Breitbart was able to find the important detail, Shannon’s youth and energy, whereas Martin went squirrel, whereas Lankford seems to resemble some of the candidates she opposed in Iowa, Missouri, et al,

    narciso (3fec35)

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