You were quote in the August 23 issue of Mountain Xpress as saying at the Buncombe County Republican convention in March that “we live in the heart of enemy territory” and that “we have to strike a blow from the inside.”
Could you please explain your comments?
First off, I’d like to thank Gordon for allowing me to post my response. Having recently been told I wasn’t welcome to take part in a candidate forum because of my beliefs, it’s nice to have been given some space on Scrutiny Hooligans. Thanks. And I mean that sincerely, Gordon.
Second, let me directly answer RHS, and anyone else who wants to continue fanning the flames of partisanship rather than talk about ideas:
In addressing a large number of Republicans earlier this year, it was necessary to bring attention to the elephant in the room: Republicans, be they centrist Republicans, libertarian Republicans or conservative Republicans, are all grouped as one and treated like second class citizens in Asheville. Why was it necessary to address this?
Because at the best, disrespect is no way to treat other human beings, and at worst, the actual fear that exists among many Republicans of being “outed” among our neighbors and losing what could have been a strong tie to our communities, or of having our personal property destroyed, or the very real fear among many Republicans in Asheville of losing a job… and having our livelihoods, and therefore our families, put at risk is just plain wrong.
That day, I said that Republicans are in enemy territory. But context matters, and the context in this case is this: It is the Republicans who, according to many in our community, are the enemy.
Republicans are told that we are not welcome in Asheville, no matter what our ideas might be. We are told that Asheville doesn’t want us… and that comes from the few people who put forth the effort to even talk at or about us. More often that I’d like to admit, I hear, “You’re a Republican? Then no, I will not talk with you.”
Don’t believe me? It exists right here, unfortunately, on Scrutiny Hooligans…
and specifically this: “Cates is definitely talking about something important. Asheville does need to have conversation about its water system. It’s something we’ve put off and put off and put off. And then we all said: “Screw it, let’s put in bike lanes.” But I think I’m stating the obvious here when I say Asheville doesn’t want to have that conversation with a straight, white, male Republican. Asheville doesn’t like Republicans. Asheville doesn’t trust Republicans. A socially liberal, female, business owner Republican, maybe. But not Cates…”
Really. Let’s disregard the fact that the author brings up my sexuality (why?), my skin color (why, again?) and my gender (seriously?) and focus on the partisanship… because that’s the heart of what I’m being accused of. The author admits that I brought up something important, but immediately says that Asheville doesn’t want to have that conversation with me because I’m a Republican, and that’s it. No other reason but political affiliation. Again, partisanship is more important to some people in Asheville than ideas. This is wrong, closed-minded and, let’s be honest, it’s flat out bigotry.
That’s a charged word, bigotry, and it should never be thrown around lightly. Let’s reference the definition of a bigot, from Merriam Webster: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.
I doubt that we need a reminder on the definition of intolerance, but maybe some of the audience could use some help. Definition of intolerant: a : unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters; b : unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights : bigoted.
Even the dictionary references bigotry when defining intolerance.
Is one example not enough? Just so we’re all on the same page that this isn’t cherry picking, here is another example… unfortunately also from Scrutiny Hooligans: “All across “middle Amurrica” are straight, white, male Republican types who wish all the gays/hippies/liberals/freeks would go “somewhere else.” So when the freeks find themselves just such a “somewhere else”: an Asheville, a San Francisco, a New York, the occasional college town… why, the straight, white, male Republican types aren’t happy with that, either!”
Two examples not enough? How about this: “Straight white Republican
males: the guys who just want to own the living shit out of EVERYTHING.”
And this follow up: “You left out authoritarian.”
Are we to think that these Scrutiny Hooligans contributors are Republicans? What, exactly, is the charge against my affiliation with a political group when it comes to the inclusion of racism, sexism or sexuality? If we’re going to accuse everyone today of the actions of individuals throughout history, then nobody is innocent.
Did anyone castigate these community members? No.
Did anyone delete the bigoted comments? No.
Did anyone apologize? No.
The comments have been up there for months, in a public forum.
But that’s only half of the comment that the partisans among us wish to continue throwing up. The other half: “Let’s strike a blow from the inside.”
When a people are being met with intolerance and bigotry, there is no excuse for them to take the same path. Are some Republicans and conservatives guilty of intolerance and bigotry? Just like some Democrats and progressives, yes. Two wrongs don’t make a right, so it is now incumbent upon someone to stand up and win an election in the city… based on the merits of ideas. A Republican who can win an election in Asheville, when his or her campaign is based on ideas, sends a huge blow to bigotry and intolerance. Hopefully, all sides will see that. Education, tolerance, engaging in conversation (especially with those who we might not agree with at the outset) and, ultimately ideas… these are the tools with which we fight intolerance. These are the weapons with which we fight against bigotry. And winning an election, in the face of bigotry and intolerance, in the face of fear for our property and livelihoods, is just that: striking a blow from the inside.
The proof is in the pudding: my campaign is about ideas. My positions on economic development, quality jobs, clean air, clean water, hunger, homelessness and poverty, and access to responsible government have been up on my website for months. Let there be no question that I love Asheville, voted for it with my feet, and that I wholeheartedly believe in the culture that exists here. Our culture is what makes us great. We are interesting. We are creative. We are independent. We have a soul when so many of the cities around the country no longer have one. And it is exactly this culture that I was determined to protect, preserve and promote when I developed an economic and environmental vision to help the more than 17,000 of our neighbors who are out of a job right now get back to work.
But that’s an idea… and I wasn’t asked about that.
-Mark CatesRead the full article