Racial jokes have as much place in American discourse as outright bigotry because, well, they are the same thing. Another Hillsborough County Republican Party official has figured that out, and party leaders need to, too.
Carol Carter resigned her post Thursday as a state Republican committeewoman after the St. Petersburg Times reported she forwarded a racist e-mail post. "I'm confused," the e-mail read, contrasting President Obama's inauguration with Hurricane Katrina. "How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, D.C., in one day in subzero temps when 200,000 couldn't get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice?"
Carter issued an "apology" that was worse than her original e-mail. She lamented that people took the e-mail in a "negative" way, complained that Americans were losing their sense of humor and criticized those who ratted her out for not being "real team players." Her words recall the adage: When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.
This was a real chance for the new county chairman, Deborah Cox-Roush, to put a fresh stamp on the party. She won her job after the previous chairman, David Storck, stepped aside in December after sending a racist e-mail of his own. Yet again, it fell to Jim Greer, the state Republican Party chairman, to set the right tone by immediately rebuking Carter.
This is the third time in recent months that a local Republican leader has embarrassed the party with a racially offensive message. The local party overall is more moderate and diverse than these episodes suggest. As chairwoman, Cox-Roush needs to send that message.