Breaking Down Better Georgia’s Political Stunt

April 15, 2013 9:00 am

by Charlie · 69 comments

By now we should all be applauding the success of Better Georgia’s publicity stunt of last week.  They have achieved their goals, and this should be noted.  They’ve managed to get many local and some national headlines stating that some officials, including the Governor, aren’t against a segregated prom.

Look at the words carefully and you’ll have to parse it to realize its wide reporting of a non-story.  The Governor’s spokesperson (rightfully) called out Better Georgia for a publicity stunt.  Better Georgia responded (as expected from this set up) that the Governor wouldn’t speak out against something on their terms.  And that is what this has been about from the beginning.  At least, the beginning of when Better Georgia got involved.  Because the actual issue of the segregated prom was settled before Better Georgia started the PR blitz disguised as a disingenuous fundraising campaign.

As we covered last week, Republican Melvin Everson – a Wilcox County native and appointee of Governor Deal – had actually called for funding the prom locally when he became aware of the group hosting the prom via social media.  That group’s Facebook page also posted on April 5th “Through your generosity, we are happy and overjoyed to say that we have met our goal for our Prom.”

Yet it was on April 10th before Better Georgia began to execute their PR takedown.  They spammed virtually every Republican on Twitter asking for donations to fund this prom that the group had already announced was fully funded 5 days before Better Georgia decided to make themselves the issue.  But using “the children” has been a time honored tradition in Georgia politics, and Better Georgia’s most recent use of them for this stunt is as shameless as any.

Better Georgia admonished those of us who objected to this as a publicity stunt, even though we knew exactly how it was going to end, pushing it off about how it was all just about supporting the children.   But it’s not about the Children.  It’s about Better Georgia.

Who is Better Georgia?  They like to pretend they’re independent, including this statement in most of their press releases:

“Better Georgia is an independent, non-partisan organization and is not affiliated with any political party.”

This is inserted into the boiler plate of too many news articles to imply that the group is impartial, especially given their Orwellian name.  The reality is, well let’s just let one of the founders, Amy Morton, tell us their objective in her own words:

“ (I) decided to volunteer to help launch Better Georgia, an affiliate of ProgressNow,. Starting now, Better Georgia will provide a megaphone for the millions of Georgians who don’t care about red or blue, but simply want a government that works for them.

Today Georgia begins a journey toward a better, more progressive state. It’s the day progressives have decided we’re sick of letting the debate in Georgia be between the right and the far right.”

So, “independent” and “non-partisan” clearly doesn’t mean without a political agenda.  Better Georgia is all about embarrassing Republicans wherever possible, even if they have to create the “news” to serve as the embarrassment.

And who is ProgressNow? Their website makes it clear, and tracks with the organized stunt from Better Georgia:

“ProgressNow works with our states partners to promote progressive ideas and causes through earned media strategies and cutting-edge new media.”

For those unfamiliar with the term, “earned media” is when you get your story, agenda, or policy position placed into circulation via news stories as opposed to paid advertisements.  Like, you know, creating a publicity stunt to fund a prom that has already been funded before you hijacked the issue.

You may have heard a little more about ProgressNow last week.  Fingers are being pointed at their Kentucky chapter for bugging the campaign office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  That’s the kind of thing that was an impeachable offense when Republicans did it in the 1970’s.  It just may be the new way of doing things for “independent and non-partisan” groups.

Updated: Better Georgia has forwarded an email from ProgressNow claiming no affiliation with the ProgressKentucky SuperPAC.  I guess we should start spamming twitter asking if Better Georgia condemns wiretapping and those who illegally do it.

Politics is a rough and tumble activity, and Better Georgia is certainly entitled to attempt to bait Republicans into inelegant responses to situations set up for partisan gain.  Georgia’s media need to be more careful in accepting these premises that events set up almost a week after solutions and remedies have taken care of situations are really “about the children”.

Because if you want to know how much Better Georgia really cares about the children, let’s just go back to Amy Morton’s history.  She is, after all, the person who sued to open up the divorce records of 8th District GOP Congressman Austin Scott, forcing Scott’s then 11 year old son into the middle of a public battle over the release of records affecting his custodial arrangements.

Because, you know, it’s for the children….so long as it serves a partisan purpose.

BryanLong April 15, 2013 at 9:24 am

Charlie,

Thank you for this post. I do want to clarify two small parts of the blog post.

1). This issue is not about Better Georgia. It’s about the civil rights of these students and Gov. Deal’s complete absence on a story that was international news before we got involved. His silence on the issue is what drew us to it. We have received statewide support from people who are thankful that we have asked Georgia’s governor to speak about ending segregated proms. This is not a tough issue. The ‘publicity stunt’ would end immediately if Gov. Deal said he is proud of these students and their efforts.

2). ProgressNow and our 21-state network of progressive, state-based entities, are not related to Progress Kentucky, the Super PAC that has been named as the possible source of secret recordings from a meeting between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his campaign aides.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 9:47 am

Governor Deals statement

” In the Wilcox County case, the governor expects and trusts that local leaders will find a long-term solution that protects the equal rights of all students, regardless of race or ethnic background. ”

But that’s not good enough, is it Bryan? And we both know why.

By the way. With all your tweeting, I’m sure you’ve taken the time to correct the people who have been tweeting the the Governor said an integrated prom was a publicity stunt since that’s blatantly false.

After all, you’re all about “doing the right thing”.

Buzz Brockway April 15, 2013 at 10:22 am

Bryan,

If this wasn’t an attempt to create a “gotcha” moment, why did Better Georgia’s email Friday include my name after I specifically asked you not to put me on any list of yours? My name as well as Edward Lindsey’s and Brett Harrell’s were included to try to embarrass Governor Deal. I don’t appreciate my name being used against a fellow Republican, especially when I asked you not to use it.

achap39 April 15, 2013 at 9:43 am

Regardless of what Better Georgia is or is not…

How hard is it for the Governor’s Office to come out and say something along the lines of, “This is a local issue, one that was brought forth initially by students in Wilcox County. We support those students and wish them much success in their efforts.”

How hard is that? Rather than take a swipe at Better Georgia and make the office look HORRID in a mainstream national light, be noncommittal. A say-nothing statement does far less to damage Deal’s (and the state’s) reputation than what he said.

David Staples April 15, 2013 at 10:15 am

I don’t think Better Georgia calling out the Governor in a national / international spotlight is going to help create a better Georgia. Just my two cents.

Buzz Brockway April 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

+1

seenbetrdayz April 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I for one woke up this morning and Georgia felt the same as it pretty much always does.

tdk790 April 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

…did you read his statement?

“In the Wilcox County case, the governor expects and trusts that local leaders will find a long-term solution that protects the equal rights of all students, regardless of race or ethnic background.”

DavidTC April 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm

So, he has no specific wishes for the outcome here? He’s _fine_ with the students just giving up and having two a private segregated proms?

The governor’s statement _does not pick a side_. The governor was presented with two sides, a segregationist side and an anti-segregation side, and he DID NOT PICK THE ANTI-SEGREGATION SIDE.

Hell, strictly speaking, he picked the segregationist side. I suspect he didn’t actually realize this, but the ‘local leaders’ _have_ a solution that does not violate the equal rights of students.

Private proms _are_ the ‘solution’ to violating the equal rights of students (As opposed to having them be school-sponsored, which would be illegal), and that’s a system that is in place because that’s what racist ‘local leaders’ want.

I don’t think he _actually_ meant to side with the segregationists, but that’s the sort of nonsense that happens when people try to avoid pissing off racists, which the governor clearly was trying to do.

David Staples April 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

Charlie mentioned what was my biggest problem with the situation. Better Georgia was raising money that was supposed to go towards an integrated prom on the 10th. The Facebook page by the students said on the 5th that additional money raised would go towards college scholarships. If you’re going to be asking people to donate to a particular cause, you should at least be honest with people about where the money is going. The student group was completely up front about it… Better Georgia wasn’t.

If you want to ask me for money to hold an integrated prom, that’s one thing. If you want me to donate to a college scholarship fund, that’s completely different.

Toxic Avenger April 15, 2013 at 10:18 am

Oh give me a break. Better Georgia was not attempting to aggrandize themselves financially; find me anywhere in those posts where they ask you to give Better Georgia some dollars. Because you won’t find it. It’s not like they were asking you to give money to the Integrated Prom, and any excess went right to Better Georgia.

If this is your biggest problem with the situation, then you obviously have no real problem with Better Georgia.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 10:23 am

Why were they asking for money when it had been resolved a week early? I’m sure your right. They weren’t trying to better themselves. It’s just that pointing out the situation was already resolved wouldn’t have as much punch.

Rick Day April 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

Why do you have a problem with this group helping raise extra money for scholarships by using ‘trending’ social media filters (this student group with this unique situation) to cut through the millions of donation requests at any given moment?

The issue of raising scholarship dollars is NEVER resolved, grifty…. consider it ‘punitive damages’ for being discriminated against and call it a day, for chrissakes!!\

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

Because that’s not what this is about. And everybody knows it.

David Staples April 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

If they wanted to raise money for scholarships, then they should have said so. They didn’t. They said they were raising money for an integrated prom. There are lots of competing interests for charitable dollars – especially with federal funding being cut and the state of the economy putting a pinch on household budgets. I commented on this the other day that while I’ll contribute to integrating a prom, I won’t contribute to a random scholarship fund that hasn’t published any prerequisites for attaining the scholarship – financial need, grade point average, etc. Instead, I contribute to other causes – childhood cancer and breast cancer being the ones at the top of my list. Because the issue of raising dollars for cancer research has never been resolved either… :-/

Flowers April 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

Charlie — I’ve tried to hold my tongue on this, but you’ve got to let this go. Regardless of politics, the underlying story is that Georgia needs to move into the current century for the sake of our kids.

Using PR to heighten awareness is not a new technique and used by partisans of all stripes. Your Honor, I submit the GOP-led Charter Schools video/commercial campaign of last summer as evidence. I’m pretty sure kids were used to make that pitch.

The Guv’s folks fumbled this by allowing themselves to get worked up on the partisan front. The quote they should have given last week showed up in Political Insider today (shown above by griftdrift). That would have taken some of the air out of this. Instead, the story went international.

Social media is the new norm. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t all be doing it.

I also want to clear up any misinformation that Better Georgia is aligned with the Democratic Party of Georgia. They are not. They are, indeed, a progressive organization and “non-partisan” means they work with progressives, regardless of party affiliation. “Independent” means they are not coordinating efforts. And as the Integrated Prom debate has demonstrated — progressive thinking CAN be bi-partisan.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

This is exploitation of the worst kind. Now the story is being distorted to become Governor Deal says an integrated prom is a publicity stunt.

To paraphrase Cool Hand Like, Better Georgia knows exactly what they’re doing.

And it’s disgusting.

Rick Day April 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

Exploitation? This coming from an unabashed supporter of the GOP?

A political arm who exploits dead fetii, gods, guns and racism into votes, power and wealth?

The hypocrisy on this room is rather fetid today, I must say.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

“unabashed supporter of the GOP”

That’s the funniest thing you’ve ever said. Not what I usually hear.

Flowers April 15, 2013 at 11:40 am

Really? Try this on for size.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxOnNLdfdkE

Buzz Brockway April 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm

So that was a video by the Southern Educational Foundation using kids to speak against the charter amendment. What’s your point?

David Staples April 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

Progressive: Noun – A person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.

Will those Republicans in favor of “new, liberal ideas” please stand up?

Buzz Brockway April 15, 2013 at 10:16 am

Well, it seems clear Better Georgia did what they did to create a “gotcha” moment so they could blast Republicans. I don’t see any Democrats who failed to respond being blasted as racists.

As for their affiliation with Georgia Democrats, I’m sure you are technically correct, however, they will be on a panel later this month talking about the political prospects for Democrats in Georgia. They may not coordinate their actions with the State Democratic Party but I don’t see Democrats distancing themselves from Better Georgia either.

Rick Day April 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

Well, it seems clear Better Georgia did what they did to create a “gotcha” moment so they could blast Republicans. I don’t see any Democrats who failed to respond being blasted as racists.
*facepalm*

um…Buzz? Could that be because there might be fewer overt racists (because..like..more people of color are Dems?) in the Democratic party to call out?

You can’t stomp around in a pig farm and not expect to get some shat on your boot, sir.

James April 15, 2013 at 9:57 pm

+100. Seriously, Buzz, your feigned indignation about this is pretty funny.

Flowers April 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

None of us have to try that hard for a “gotcha.” Age old rule in political communications: define or be defined.

Buzz, not only am I technically correct, I am correct. That’s an extraordinarily weak argument regarding the panel discussion. For starters, US demographics are changing (even in Georgia). Here’s a story on that very topic posted yesterday: http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2013-04-14/jones-georgia-republicans-know-ground-shifting. The fact that BG is discussing shifting patterns makes them relevant.

Secondly, I was on a panel with Mark Rountree, discussing … wait for it … politics. That doesn’t make him a liberal or me a conservative. It means we were discussing issues. Both of us bat for a particular team but it doesn’t render us incapable of civil discussions even if we differ in approach.

Buzz Brockway April 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Well, civil discussion of politics becomes more and more difficult with folks like Better Georgia around.

Better Georgia acts for the benefit of the Georgia Democratic Party. They sure aren’t trying to help the GOP win elections. As stated above, they have every right to do so but folks on my side of the aisle have every right to fight back and call BS when we see and smell it.

Flowers April 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Well … I might argue that Better Georgia is making life more difficult for the GOP, not that civil discussions are at risk because of them.

If I were giving advice to the GOP on this matter I would say let it go. Sometimes, you just don’t have a winning argument.

greencracker April 15, 2013 at 10:22 am

Dirty tricks in politics? You’ve shattered my monocle, Mr. Harper. :)

Spacey G April 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm

*snort*

Ken April 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Mighty big words, Maggie! Next you’ll be wearin’ one of them there one-eyed glasses thingamajigs with the tassel.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 10:39 am

It’s on Taegen Goddard’s Political Wire. And with the truth distorting headline “Governors Office Calls Efforts To Integrate Prom A Leftist Stunt” .

Congratulations Bryan. You got your wish. The story with all it’s distortion is going national. Must be such a proud moment. I know I’m just bristling with pride to be a Georgian. With every new comment about how we’re all racists, I just swell with pride a little more.

Rick Day April 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

I call your sarcasm and raise you: “then quit electing racists”.

Baker April 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

The prom issue already solved, all this does is create bad publicity for Georgia.

George Chidi April 15, 2013 at 10:43 am

I still think this was an easy double, a fat hanging curveball over the plate. Cheap and easy. It’s also exactly what the Republican Party needs to be doing to improve their prospects with black voters — directly and without equivocation telling white racists that there’s no political support for them at all among conservatives. Do that, get immigration out of the headlines and make common cause with poor black voters (perhaps through aggressive support of urban entrepreneurship policies, among other things) and Republicans can make inroads.

He had a man on base with the way he handled the DeKalb School Board thing, too. Instead, he’s bunting into a double play. This was an opportunity lost, and political capital squandered.

George Chidi April 15, 2013 at 11:08 am

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a progressive liberal, and I like Better Georgia. There’s value in demonstrating the differences in policy and approach between Democrats and Republicans, generally, and it’s hard not to admire the political messaging artistry of this. I called it a hanging curveball, but I think the more apt comparison is a fastball, right over the plate — a hittable pitch that Deal decided to bunt.

At some point, though, tactical advances for progressives that come at the cost of a further racially-isolated Republican Party will develop into a Pyrrhic victory, just like the conservative Southern Strategy has for Republicans.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

You’re last paragraph is exactly right, George.

Buzz Brockway April 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I agree with the last paragraph of George’s comment as well.

Chris Huttman April 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Talk about blaming the victim for the Southern strategy though.

David C April 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Forget a bunt. When someone hangs a curveball over the plate, the least you can do is don’t hit yourself in the head with a baseball bat. Good one, Deal.

tdk790 April 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

Thankfully, the only opportunity lost here is Better Georgia’s obvious scheme to force Republicans to support their stunts every time they come up with one. As a result, a liberal shill subbing for a defunct state party will remain just that.

Charlie is right. This is not about Wilcox County or prom, this is about Better Georgia getting their name printed and seeking to make Republicans look bad.

Chris Huttman April 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Oh the horrors, particularly for those of us that aren’t Republicans in this state.

xdog April 15, 2013 at 11:22 am

That’s just right, George. Deal and staff blew an easy chance to make a more open, charitable statement with no risk of political capital.

In that same light, I haven’t seen any mention on the board regarding Rand Paul’s speech at Howard, where instead of talking about the continuation of the southern strategy and goper efforts at black voter suppression he could only offer the condescending non sequitur that since Lincoln and the NAACP founders were all gopers, the Howard kids should be gopers too.

Let me offer this statement for discussion: the gop is the largest and most established political bastion of racism in the country.

George Chidi April 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Actually, I’m working on something substantial around that very thing with the Rand Paul speech for later today or tomorrow morning. Wish I could move it sooner, but paying work takes precedence.

Flowers April 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

Well put, George. We’ve all made media mistakes — we’re human. The trick is to own it and keep it moving.

Harry April 15, 2013 at 11:06 am

“what the Republican Party needs to be doing to improve their prospects with black voters”

Maybe we should ask “what the black voters need to be doing to improve their prospects with the Republican Party”?

Rick Day April 15, 2013 at 11:17 am

wow…well it doesn’t work that way. It is not government By the Party. It’s By the People.

The GOP’s Southern Strategy has assured 4 generations of societal crippling of the nuclear family in african american communities, through the war on drugs and poor education funding. De facto slavery, a la 20th Century.

They don’t owe you squat. I smell the fear in this room; it’s almost palpable. A few more progressive non partisan attacks like this, and the GOP brand in GA is going into the toilet within 2 election cycles.

Harry April 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

No, it’s really not that simple, but if you want race-based politics than that’s what you’ll get. I won’t be a part of it.

Diane Loupe April 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

This group has a first amendment right to do exactly what they did, which wasn’t terribly radical. They asked the governor to make a statement against segregation. Any skilled politician could have handled that, easily. When partisan politics gets to the point that an elected politician won’t even denounce SEGREGATION…(throwing my hands up). Given the ugly racial tint of many anti-Obama rants, not to mention some of the comments in today’s AJC that seemed to suppert segregated proms, I’ve got to wonder if some people in the Republican Party ARE pining for the good old days.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 11:25 am

And the confirmation bias continues

seenbetrdayz April 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm

If those in office had to stop every time someone came up with some sort of guilt-by-association, hare-brained accusation/correlation and demand they drop everything they’re doing to issue a press release stating that they disagree strongly and condemn . . . blah-blah-blah . . . then they wouldn’t have any time to actually govern.

. . . on second thought. Keep it up.

WesleyC April 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

The very fact that this commentary was written is proof that, from the progressive perspective, Better Georgia is doing something right. They’ve proven pretty deft so far at accomplishing what the state Ds are incapable of: embarrassing the Right and occasionally reminding Georgians that the GOP has 100% of the power in this state, despite having only a bit more than half of the electorate. The reason conservatives are upset is because they finally have a worthy adversary.

Ken April 16, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I’m pretty sure the commentary was to expose Better Georgia’s duplicity.

Does this mean that you’re okay with misleading statements for political gain if those statements encourage dialogue?

Rick Day April 15, 2013 at 11:32 am

Excepting the sub threads, all I can say about this, Charlie, is if a group with no money or political power, only social media skills and a savvy PR team combing the internet for ‘issues’ can rile all you guys up like this….

Isn’t this a game changer? Social media used a minor point that the Governor had not taken a public stance (shame!) because it was too ‘sticky’ politically for the base to understand, and got him to REACT. Instead of being proactive on the issue, he was reactive.

And that is the point here, Charlie. Leaders are supposed to lead, not attack. When Deal dismissed the effort with a sweep of his broad hand, he also SEEMED to sweep the kids scholarship efforts and the kid’s issue as well.

Did he intend do that? Well, for politics sake, I certainly hope not!

The bigger story here is how social media and persistent research can pay off dividends in keeping the duopoly in check.

This group is like “Anonymous” only not anonymous. They do stuff for the sake of justice and not policy.

Wait until they figure out how to reach every voter’s pocket PDA, the issues they will remind voters of, the bad votes cast, the stupid public statements, etc” All the way to the steps of the voting building. Political mail that actually gets read, and diluted into 140 characters. *ouch*

Indeed, this demonstration was a game changer in the political discourse. If you look at it this way, perhaps your anger should instead turn to concern. In a few years, blogging format might go the way of BBS postings and 2400 baud modems.

Are you ready to embrace the coming change? You should thank these guys for demonstrating how awesome things are going to be in the future of politics. Power reversal. Who needs money when you have people?

David Staples April 15, 2013 at 11:38 am

I agree that social media certainly has it’s use in politics. But I found this quote interesting in regards to this particular situation…

“They do stuff for the sake of justice and not policy.”

What justice did Better Georgia help bring about? They were late to the game.

tdk790 April 15, 2013 at 11:59 am

Unbelievably inaccurate post.

Claim #1: “a group with no money or political power, only social media skills and a savvy PR team”

That is demonstrably false. ProgressNow, under which Better Georgia falls, was founded by Dem consultants and the founder of MoveOn.org. They may not be turning some big profit, but to say they don’t have any money or political power is absurd.

Claim #2: “This group is like “Anonymous” only not anonymous. They do stuff for the sake of justice and not policy.”

Really? Their whole purpose is exactly what you say it isn’t: “Because we work to promote a “progressive” agenda, not a partisan one, our work continues regardless of which party controls the levers of power at the federal, state and local level. Whether we’re fighting AGAINST CONSERVATIVE POLICIES or PROMOTING PROGRESSIVE ONES, we can be effective.”

Bull Moose April 15, 2013 at 11:34 am

Disappointing summation of the issue. Right is right and wrong is wrong no matter the source. To remain silent on the issue of an integrated prom in any county in GA in 2013 is tantamount to supporting the segregated ways that have been tolerated and allowed for way too long.

If we don’t have elected officials who can rise above the source, then they aren’t worthy of being in a position of representing the whole public.

griftdrift April 15, 2013 at 11:37 am

He wasn’t silent. He issued a statement. Want me to post it again?

But don’t let me get in the way of the run away narrative.

Thump that chest Bryan! Gosh, the pride you must feel.

Spacey G April 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm

At the risk of becoming District Georgia’s Effie Trinket (Hunger Games) I urge all of you good folk interested in this delicate matter to attend the Tuesday, April 23 Atlanta Press Club event/panel titled: Loyal Opposition: What is the future for Georgia Democrats? Bryan Long will be a panelist.

Deets here: http://atlantapressclub.org/loyal-opposition-what-is-the-future-for-georgia-democrats/

And may the odds be always in your favor!

James April 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm

This whole thread cracks me up. For all of you complaining about Better Georgia’s tactics, I don’t see a single person saying “you know what, the fact that this is the year 2013 and Georgia still has segregated proms is pretty f****ed up.”

Georgia is, without dispute, one of the more backwards states in the Union. Publicity stunt or not, sometimes the only way to change things is to make fun and shed light. Better Georgia did both. So kudos to them. Keep up the good work.

Andre April 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm

James, allow me to be the first to dispute your claim that Georgia is, as you say, one of the more backwards states in the Union.

If Georgia is one of the more backwards states in the Union, I’d question why people keep moving to Georgia and making our great state their home. Data provided by the Census Bureau shows that Georgia experienced population growth of 18.3% between 2000 and 2010. By comparison, California ([sarcasm]which is, without dispute, one of the more forward states in the Union [/sarcasm]) only saw 10% growth.

To your point that, “it is the year 2013 and Georgia still has segregated proms,” you’re right.

It is the year 2013 and Georgia still has segregated proms and segregated schools too.

The state Department of Education reports that 79% of the enrollment at Milton High School, in Fulton County, is white. The same Georgia Department of Education reports that 79% of the enrollment at Tri-Cities High School, also in Fulton County, in black.

Are you suggesting, James, that in order to ensure diversity, the state of Georgia should implement a school busing program to prevent students from attending all-black or all-white schools?

Maybe the state legislature should pass a law mandating diversity in all Georgia high schools, and requiring student enrollment to reflect each county’s population. It’d be interesting to see black students from Tri-Cities traveling to Milton and white students from Milton traveling to Tri-Cities in an attempt to guarantee the enrollment at Tri-Cities and Milton high schools looks like Fulton County, which is 47.5% white and 44.5% black.

If the last two paragraphs sound absurd, it is intentional.

Government cannot mandate diversity. It is an absurd thought to think government can. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the segregated Wilcox County High School proms are not sponsored or sanctioned in any way by Wilcox County High School or the Wilcox County School System.

These events are organized and funded by private individuals. People keep forgetting that.

The so-called “whites only” prom is organized and funded by private individuals. The so-called “blacks only” prom is organized and funded by private individuals. What business does government have telling private individuals who they can and cannot invite to an event they’re organizing and paying for? Why do we need a statement from the Governor of Georgia, commenting on a private event paid for with private funds?

If I organize a party, and decide only to invite people who look like me (I’m black, by the way), that is my right. If Governor Deal issued a statement today imploring me to invite more white people to my all black event, I’d look him dead in the eye and say, “Mind your business.”

It’s not his business. How private individuals organize private events in Wilcox County is not the Governor’s business either. And I’d like to think Gov. Deal has better things to do that comment on private events organized by private individuals.

oscardagrch April 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm

“Government cannot mandate diversity.”

It can’t mandate diversity but it can and has promoted segregation. One only need look out the the windows of the Twin Towers across from the State Capitol to see the biggest instance of government promoted segregation. The Downtown Connector.

The way transportation in Metro Atlanta has been set out over the past few decades is a direct result of wanting to provide people ease of segregating themselves from “other” people.

TheEiger April 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm

So because there are people who like to live in an area with good schools for our children and pay lower taxes we are racist? Please tell me I am having a reading comprehension problem and that is not what you mean.

Andre April 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm

You’re absolutely reading what I typed correctly.

I am facetiously proposing an absurd idea — a law mandating diversity in all Georgia high schools, and requiring student enrollment at each high school to reflect each county’s population — because James correctly noted that it is the year 2013 and Georgia still has segregated proms and segregated schools too.

And, as James said, that is pretty f****ed up.

James April 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Andre: If I believed that “in order to ensure diversity, the state of Georgia should implement a school busing program to prevent students from attending all-black or all-white schools,” I would have said so. I didn’t.

As for Georgia being backwards: “If I organize a party, and decide only to invite people who look like me (I’m black, by the way), that is my right.” Thank you for proving my point.

Andre April 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Am I to understand you correctly, James?

Are you suggesting that any person, group, or organization that excludes certain people are backwards?

If that’s the case, the Congressional Black Caucus must be backwards because a white member of Congress tried to join their ranks in 2007, and was given an emphatic No.

What you fail to remember, James, is the Constitution of the United States guarantees the right of the people to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests.

It’s called freedom of assembly, and it is codified in the First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

As I said before, if I organize a party, and decide only to invite people who look like me (I’m black, by the way), that is my right. I have the right to peaceably assemble a group of blacks only in my home.

If that makes me backwards, then so be it.

James April 16, 2013 at 10:00 am

“Are you suggesting that any person, group, or organization that excludes certain people are backwards?” Not necessarily. But those who take obvious pride in their ability to “exclude certain people”–like you do twice above–might be.

I mean, really, who talks like this?

Ron Daniels April 15, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. If you had read the Morning Reads, you would have seen exactly what you suggest doesn’t exist.

Thus proving, as usual, that sweeping generalizations usually are flawed.

sockpuppet April 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

@Charlie:

You need to write a new column.

1. How many people actually believe that Republicans are racist?
2. What is the evidence for this belief?
3. If there is no evidence, do they retain it merely for the purposes of political advantage over/feeling morally superior to Republicans?
4. If the answer to 3. is true, what benefit does that actually provide to race relations and the black community?

Because here is the deal, whether everyone wants to admit it or not.
1. No elected politician in Georgia supports legal segregation. Those who do belong to such marginal groups as those represented by American Renaissance, SBPDL, the Occidental movement, the Council of Conservative Citizens etc. Proof of this: blacks (and Hispanics and Asians) have been moving into Republican strongholds like Cobb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Fayette, Henry, Douglas, even Forsyth for years and there hasn’t been a peep of resistance or no move to try to keep blacks out.
2. After this “integrated prom” (or rather private party) is held, nothing is going to change for the blacks of Wilcox County. Not a single thing. So why does grandstanding like this take place? For that matter, what does trashing Rand Paul for speaking at Howard accomplish? It honestly seems as if some people just need someone to play the antagonist, to be the enemy and the GOP is it. But that is so dumb in Georgia because most GOPers were Democrats who enjoyed a ton of black support just a few years ago. That’s right. Blacks had no problem voting for Nathan Deal when he was a Democrat. And were Nathan Deal still a Democrat, blacks would vote for him by 9 to 1, and Better Georgia wouldn’t even ask him about this nonsense (just as they never did Zell Miller).

This stuff has to be dealt with head on because it keeps us from dealing with more serious issues.
Like: 1) the Savannah port
2) the failure of the GOP to do anything on transportation again (there will never be a Plan B on T-SPLOST for instance)
3) the plan to increase the tax burden of the vast majority of Georgians by giving us the highest sales tax in the nation in order to pay for an elimination of the state income tax

All those issues – especially #3 – could be used by Democrats to make real inroads towards being competitive again in 2014 and beyond. But instead of battling the GOP on policy and issues, it is just cheap and easy to call them segregationists (despite knowing full well that it isn’t true, if only for the fact that if it was, these former Democrats like Deal would have joined the GOP when Strom Thurmond did and not 40 years later) isn’t it?

And that is why this is so dumb. It will only alienate the very rural Georgia whites that could possibly be put in play by the state GOP’s failure on economic issues and their plan to drastically increase their taxes by calling them a bunch of racists to the pleasure of the New York City liberals.
Better Georgia activist to white rural Georgia voter: do you know that Georgia Republicans want to raise your taxes and oppose infrastructure investments that would bring jobs to your area?
White rural Georgia voter to Better Georgia activist: since you called me a segregationist and a racist despite knowing good and well that it isn’t true, why should I listen to anything that you have to say? Straight Republican ticket for me!

This nonsense has to stop, and the only way that it is gonna stop is if it is confronted directly.

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