On the same day the National Basketball Association decreed a lifetime ban of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling after racist statements he made about African-Americans became public, reports show that Democrats in Washington State have taken a large sum of political contributions from a person known for delivering bigoted tirades.
Official political campaign finance disclosures show that Thurston County Democrats have accepted $65,000 in political contributions from spiritual leader J.Z. Knight, who has previously been videotaped making anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic statements to large groups at the Ramtha School of Enlightenment located in Yelm.
Knight is currently under investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center for hate speech.
As reported by Jeff Rhodes of the Olympia Report, local Democrats have once again accepted political donations from Knight, $65,000 so far for use in the upcoming 2014 elections. From the Olympia Report article: [bold added]
Apparently J.Z. Knight has lost her taint — or at least her money has.
Two years after the Washington State Democratic Party was shamed into declining a $70,000 donation from the Yelm-based cult leader, the Thurston County Democratic Central Committee has accepted a pair of donations amounting to almost as much.
According to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website, Knight made a $50,000 contribution on Feb. 25 and donated another $15,000 on March 24.
The Thurston County Democratic Party did not respond to a phone message about the story.
We were able speak with Thurston County Democratic Party Chair Roger Erskine by phone Tuesday. Erskine said that the Central Committee is not considering refunding the contributions and characterized the statements made by Knight as “alleged.” Erskine said that the decision to accept Knight’s contributions was made by unanimous vote at a recent committee meeting and their decision was based on their having verified that Knight was a Democrat in good standing who supports all parts of the party platform.
This is hardly the first time that Democrats have tempted controversy by taking Knight’s cash.
In 2012, the release videotaped recordings of Knight’s rants and the revelation that Knight and her incorporated entity, Ramtha International, had then donated more than $65,000 to Democrats in state and local races as well as more than $60,000 to Pres. Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
Some of Knight’s offensive statements transcribed directly from recordings made by former students at her school include:
- “The invasion of the Mexicans who just breed like rabbits [audience laughter], they are poison.”
- “I’m telling you this, every G—damn Mexican family is a Catholic — [more laughter] they’re breeding like f—ing rabbits.”
- “All Mexicans are not worthy of conscious thought.”
- “San Francisco is beating off the Catholics from down below…”
- “All gay men were once Catholic women.”
- “F— you, you Catholics!”
- “We will come on you in a terror… We will bring… St. Peter’s temple down and we will swallow it in the sea.” [St. Peter’s temple is a common reference to the Catholic church.]
The 2012 story generated significant media coverage (including our own articles here, here and here), eventually forcing Democrats to make a faux mea culpa by agreeing to donate their Ramtha contributions to the Anti-Defamation League and the referendum campaign to ratifying the state’s same-sex marriage law.
Fast forward to 2014 and Democrats are back at it again, but at a time when stories of bigotry involving Sterling and Nevada rancher Clive Bundy are the top news items, the self-anointed “party of inclusion” has little or no room to maneuver when crafting answers to legitimate questions involving why they are accepting money from a person such as Knight.
Shame and disassociation are legitimate responses by a civil society to men who made those comments. For example, it’s perfectly right for the NBA to give Sterling a permanent ejection from the league.
(Note that if it was the government enforcing any sort of legal penalty for his speech, that should be an entirely different matter. We should pay social consequences for stupid speech, not suffer punishment by government thought police and enforced by law.)
It’s also not unthinkable for the Pres. Obama to step up to the microphone and register his outrage at Sterling.
(Though it is one more indication of the commander-in-chief’s naïveté in the arena of foreign affairs that he chose to conflate the comments of one racist with a non-existent surge of racism in his home country while speaking on foreign soil.)
It’s also likely that no one will ever accept another political contribution from Sterling. He should be shunned and we should carefully judge those who choose not to. Why should Knight be any different? Knight distinguishes herself from Sterling and Bundy in one relevant way; she has not made bigoted statements about African-Americans. Put another way, are comments aimed at gays, Mexicans, Catholics, and Jews not adequate enough reasons to disassociate with Knight?
Democrats should have refused to take her donations after her comments became public in 2012, but it is inconceivable that they could claim ignorance only two years later.
As in so many other cases, this current set of examples—the rapid rejection of Bundy and Sterling’s racism in contrast to tantamount endorsement of Knight’s—makes it clear that cries of racism from the political left and their friends in the Democratic Party are rooted in politics, not morality.