Monday, March 6, 2017

Joseph O. Patton: Jim Zeigler's Confederate flag panties are showing

  Though I shouldn't be surprised, Alabama Auditor Jim Zeigler has once again slinked into the spotlight to flash his unique brand of embarrassment and dysfunction to taxpayers. Following President Trump's address to Congress, Zeigler felt compelled to share a disturbing, unfair and borderline slanderous bit of material on social media, equating female members of Congress to Ku Klux Klan members.

  The congresswomen in question simply wore white to the address, a classy, non-confrontational nod to the American suffrage movement. In Zeigler's post, it included the inflammatory and insulting text, "now appearing without hoods," and "Nancy Pelosi and the Klannettes" along with an actual photo of Klan members.

  Political opinions aside, this is no way for a state constitutional officer to behave. This type of juvenile, unprofessional and painfully divisive conduct reflects poorly on Zeigler of course, but also his office and our state as a whole. And worse, in doing so, Zeigler even attacked Alabama's own Congresswoman Terri Sewell who represents the 7th District as she was included in the photograph. Imagine being a duly elected member of Congress, a person of color, and being linked to one of this nation's most violent, racist terrorist organizations.

  Congresswoman Sewell has insisted upon an apology from Zeigler, but as expected, he has doubled down on his online post and refused to apologize. On a side note, refusing to accept responsibility for one's words or actions and never expressing any remorse for poor behavior is a sign of a sociopath. Just saying....

  And in one interview, Zeigler clumsily insisted that by simply wearing white, those members of Congress pictured were opening up themselves to criticism. By Zeigler's nutty-cakes reasoning, doctors wearing white lab coats, brides and chefs can apparently be written off as Klan members as well.

  And lest we forget, Zeigler has a colorful history of low-brow theatrics, often driven by a strain of race-baiting. Little more than a year ago, Zeigler hatched a conspiracy theory involving the portraits of George and Lurleen Wallace hanging in the Capitol Building. As new portraits are added, older portraits - due to space limitations - are shifted from the main level of the building to the lower level. Despite this longstanding practice which shows no preference to one governor over the other and is simply chronological, Zeigler screamed that moving the Wallace's portraits was somehow a "politically correct move" and an attempt to "revise" history. I'm not sure what's notable about that lower hallway aside from Zeigler apparently losing his marbles down there. Nonetheless, he got his Confederate panties in one hell of a twist over it.

  And ultimately, Zeigler's stunt was nothing more than a ham-handed attempt to pander to the League of the South types, neo-Confederates and garden variety assholes among us. In fact, he took his side show directly to the League of the South as part of the controversy. The League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group, has advocated seceding from the Union. Its president has even expressed excitement over the prospects of a "race war" according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  In the wake of the race-fueled shooting by terrorist Dylann Roof at a predominantly black church in South Carolina in 2015, Zeigler flippantly responded via social media by saying, "church attendees should pack [heat]," proving that his mouth is much bigger than his heart. Apparently not too terribly bothered by the mass shooting itself, Zeigler nonetheless flipped out when the Goat Hill Museum Store in the Capitol Building temporarily removed some Confederate memorabilia.

  Zeigler's pattern of poor behavior and embarrassing statements is indisputable; it all too often stems from race.

  The drama queen antics of elected officials such as Jim Zeigler are the reason countless Americans outside of our state and individuals around the world still think of Alabama as a third-rate nightmare consisting of politicians who appeal to the worst in people, festering racism, unbridled homophobia and xenophobia, unfettered ignorance, and 19th century attitudes. And if we ever want to climb to any level of respectability or foster any sense of progress, we must stop electing individuals who keep peddling hatred and divisiveness and routinely engage in bat shit crazy behavior.

  Jim Zeigler needs to conduct himself as a state constitutional officer should. He needs to stick to doing his job as opposed to being a shameless attention whore who leaps at every opportunity to rile the redneck rabble and sow the seeds of division. His race-baiting, pandering and spewing absurd conspiracy theories do not serve the taxpayers of Alabama, and we should not tolerate it.

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst and commentator.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press 

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