Capitol View Commentary: It Might Be Funny If It Was Not So Sad

By: Pat Nolan, Jan. 22, 2016

We begin with something state lawmakers do all the time. They pass hundreds of congratulatory resolutions commending their constituents and others who have achieved local, state or national honors.

So it was for Nashville representative John Ray Clemmons. He drafted a resolution regarding Nashville Hispanic activist Renato Soto. She was recently elected president of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group in the nation.  Ms. Soto has also been an outstanding community leader in Nashville, being named Nashvillian of the Year by THE NASHVILLE SCENE in 2013 and receiving a Women of Achievement Award from the local YWCA.

But this week the resolution about Renato Soto did not pass along with the others being offered on the State House’s consent calendar (the usual way these matters are handled). Why not? Well House GOP leaders, Gerald McCormick and Glenn Casada say it was deferred because one member (no name was mentioned) told them he didn’t know what the La Raza group is, or for that matter, who Soto is. Reportedly, neither did McCormick or Casada.

Really? So do they know who all the folks are they honor each year through these resolutions? Do they know all the organizations that these resolutions might mention? My guess is no. But Representative McCormick told this to THE NASHVILLE SCENE (January 21): “”We’ve done this before where we’ve honored people that it came back to be kind of embarrassing.”

Really? No examples were mentioned in the story.

Well, here’s a suggestion for these clueless lawmakers. There’s a little on-line invention that’s even available in their offices on Capitol Hill. It’s called GOOGLE. You can go there, enter the names of Ms. Soto or La Raza and learn all you need to know. Oh, if you’re still not sure about how to do that, I am positive you can ask your young staff members or even your kids. I am sure they can tell or show you and even suggest some other on line places you can find out what you need to know.

So if these lawmakers went on line, what would they find about Ms. Soto or La Raza that might come back to “embarrass” them? Here’s one thing I found on Wikipedia concerning La Raza which has been operating since 1968:

“Some critics, such as conservative talk radio host George Putnam, call NCLR exclusionary in its approach to civil rights.[11] Republican congressman Charlie Norwood of Georgia's ninth district criticized congressional earmarking of four million dollars for NCLR housing initiatives.[12] Anti-illegal immigration websites, such as American Patrol, and anti-immigration websites, such as The American Resistance, accuse NCLR of encouraging illegal immigration to the United States.[13]”

OK, now I get it. Somebody in the Republican Super Majority is concerned the General Assembly might honor someone or some organization who isn’t liked by their right wing friends. Oh, the horror of it all!

The Soto resolution is reportedly now set to be considered separately by the House next week. I hope if it passes (and it should), it comes along with an apology.  But I am not holding my breath.