Tracking Racism in Idaho

Idaho has been my home since I was between that infant to toddler stage. Of my eight younger siblings I’m the only not born here.   Now most of my time growing up was spent in communities where the likes of Steve Rule were ‘the norm’ and their idiocy embraced and fostered.  Small towns are not necessarily warm and fuzzy, most often they’re judgmental places not terribly welcoming of newcomers and most especially if those newcomers are not like ‘us.’  Having had friends early on who were not Caucasian (hereafter referred as ‘white’) or just ‘different’ be it ethnic heritage or religious preference, not to mention sexual orientation, I don’t tolerate fools well, especially bald-faced lying fools.


Steve Rule, Canyon County commissioner, forwarded an email using his county email account denigrating Michelle Obama under the apparent guise of being a fashionista cop.  Jill Kuraitis at New West was privy to said email  in which Michelle Obama’s attire at Grant Park in Chicago  was compared to that of “a poisonous black widow spider.” Jill ably takes Rule to task and minces no words.

There’s no getting away from the impact of language and symbolism to transmit culture, and the email transmits the culture of racism.

The racism is communicated by both overt techniques – the blatant comparison of Mrs. Obama to a poisonous creature, for example, and semi-covert techniques – pointing out that the spiders have a very wide backside (compounding the racism with bold, underlined type), and unnecessarily emphasizing that the spider is Black.

Mr. Rule wouldn’t speak to Jill. He issued a statement through the ‘communications director.’  Jill countered by asking to speak directly to Mr. Rule; he has yet to respond. As Jill calls it, his apology – well, it “qualifies as a non-apology apology” – words echoed by Keith Olbermann in naming Mr. Rule worst Person in the World the other night.

According to The Idaho Statesman this is what Mr. Rule told ‘them’ –

The e-mail, which Rule forwarded last week, featured a photo of Obama in a black dress with red markings, next to a photo of a black widow spider. Rule said the markings seemed very similar, and he thought that was funny.

“For me, it was all about the dress,” he told the Idaho Statesman Wednesday. “But apparently it offended some people, and I’m sorry.

It’s within Mr. Rule’s “apology” that I know he’s lying. I know the type of good ‘ole boys like Mr. Rule.  I went to junior high and high school with them. They were all over our small farming community as well as those surrounding it.  Smug in their fit as white men, the objects of their derision included women and all those ‘others’ who they were certain wanted to either be them or at the least be like them.

Mr. Rule forwarded that email because it was about a woman who also is the wife of a black man – a man who will be president in less than 37 days. His derision and disgust with the choice made by Americans and the electorate are reflected in that email. That’s why he forwarded it, and he forwarded it to people he thought would agree with the perception.  It is NOT about the dress.  The dress is the smoke screen used to deliver not only racist message, but misogynist as well.  Steve Rule knows it.

Additionally, the remarks (comments) left at the Idaho Statesman, The Press-Tribune, and New West, some defend Mr. Rule’s stupidity by reinforcing what the email is not about through their words.


As an aside, the other thing that escapes me, and truthfully always has, is the willingness to forward objectionable or questionable emails using work computers or work email addresses. One thing I have noticed when I have gotten forwards are the number of individuals receiving emails via their workplace.  And no, I haven’t – ever. I don’t give out my work email address just like I don’t give out my cell phone number.  With the free email sites: Google, Yahoo!, and whatever else is out there, there’s no need to use your work email unless it’s related to business.  This was left at the Statesman’s site from Hadenough wrote on December, 11 10:11 AM:

Canyon County policy is no transmittals of these kinds of emails for any reason at any time.  Mr. Rule is in violation of county policy. Employees can get terminated for this behavior. We pay these guys to conduct county business on county time and county equipment. The last serious abuse of county computers got the offender put on administrative leave, termination and $75,000 bill for one year of administrative leave at taxpayer expense. Mr. Rule exercised very poor judgment and this is indicative of other actions where he and fellow commissioners used bad judgment with taxpayer funds.

We can certainly hope, can’t we.

43 rd State Blues has a posting that includes Steve Rule’s email address, while Chris at Unequivocal Notion found the Idaho Press Tribune’s editor commenting on this dust up and highlighting another incident with yet another ‘public official from Nampa link to The Boise Guardian where a commenter mentions misogyny as well.  Chris also has video of Keith Olbermann bestowing ‘Worse Person in the World’ on Mr. Rule.


3 Responses

  1. Eric’s comment was spam….fucker.

  2. Nice post. I saw this guy featured on Olbermann but really didn’t know what it was about. Now I do.

    BTW, despite the attempt at subtlety, hovering over Eric’s name reveals his post to be commercial comment spam – selling cell phones. I got one of those the other day, you can see how I dealt with it here.

  3. Pretty clever, SBT. Ham & eggs without the spam. 🙂

    Steve Rule is hoping to lay low and wait for the attention of the locals turn elsewhere.

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