MADISON, Wis. — State Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) issued a press release yesterday declaring the country has been “torn apart” by the “divisive racism” of the first African American President of the United States. But amazingly, that was not the most outrageous thing Kremer did on June 14. In a follow-up interview on his rant about President Obama with the state news service Wispolitics.com Kremer declared, “I don’t remember race ever being a problem before he took office.”
“Obviously Rep. Kremer misspoke in his interview, what he meant to say was that race was not a problem for him until the election of the first African American President in our nation’s history,” commented One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “Because we would like to believe that in 2016 an elected Wisconsin state legislator could not possibly be so ignorant as to declare that things like slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws to deny equal rights based on skin color and our current crisis of racial incarceration disparities aren’t problems related to race.”
The ignorance and paranoia of Rep. Kremer aren’t just restricted to race relations. The first-term Republican state representative quickly established himself as the state’s leading transphobe, authoring legislation to prohibit children from using the bathrooms of the gender they identify as and also advocating for segregated grocery stores for persons using the state food assistance program. Kremer also co-authored bills that would have allowed concealed weapons in public schools and on University of Wisconsin and technical college campuses.
Kremer’s screed is just the latest in a series of unhinged racially-charged attacks on people and communities of color launched by white Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature. Last week Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) called for stripping funding from the City of Milwaukee saying that crime in the city threatens to destroy the “flourishing suburbs.” Quickly coming to Brandtjen’s public defense after she was called out for her dog-whistle racism was GOP Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger). Gannon had earlier blamed Milwaukee’s African American population for the GOP’s economic failures that have left the state lagging the nation and neighboring states on jobs.
Ross noted that press releases aren’t the only expression of the GOP’s racism, they’re changing state laws to deny people their rights. One Wisconsin Institute is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit, One Wisconsin Institute et. al. v. Gerald Nichol et. al., challenging laws passed as part of the five-year assault on voting rights in Wisconsin perpetrated by state Republicans were meant to and have the effect of making it more difficult to vote in Wisconsin, especially for minorities, young people, people living in poverty and voters who tend to support Democratic candidates
He concluded, “It seems there is a culture among Wisconsin State Assembly Republicans that sanctions virulent racism in words and deeds. Perhaps Rep. Kremer and his klavern should take a break from writing press releases and start studying the shameful history of race relations in this country.”