Augustana Republican Chair Uncomfortably Embraces Trumpist Language

Last night I posted Augustana Democrat Spencer O’Hara’s report that members of the Augustana Republicans shouted “Build a wall” and “Lock her up” from their Viking Days parade float, along with some racist jibes at Democrats wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts.

Augustana Republicans chair Cara Beck has responded to O’Hara’s report with this defense of Trumpian language and this resort to another favorite Trump word—defamatory:

As the chairwoman of the Augustana Republicans, I think it is necessary for a statement on behalf of my organization. We intended to stay out of remarks which sought to ignite horrid political arguments on Facebook, but in light of outright false and untrue allegations, we cannot remain silent any longer.

This election has not been easy. And although it seems easy to cast a very large net over all members of one political party, it is simply naïve to assume everyone in one political party feels the same way. This year, we have a nominee who is by no means one hundred per cent accepted by all Republicans. He does not represent all factions and ideologies of all members of the Republican Party. It is a difficult year for many conservatives and liberals alike.

This weekend was the perfect opportunity for all groups at Augustana to voice their opinions and political support during the Viking Days Parade. In my four years on the Augustana College Republican float, we have vigorously chanted U-S-A, G-O-P and sang both patriotic songs and Augie songs at the tops of our lungs, demonstrating our unwavering support for the United States and our pride in being American and our pride in being students of Augustana University. By doing so, it does not suggest that other groups are un-American. This year, our candidate has advocated for stricter border control using the controversial “Build the Wall” slogan. Other slogans like “Lock Her Up” are also used to demonstrate support for Mr. Donald Trump. Because our float chanted it, it does not mean every single individual on our float is a Donald Trump supporter. The chants were not directed at any specific person, race, nationality, or organization. We chanted to demonstrate our support for Mr. Trump’s policies. We will not apologize for advocating for our political candidate by using policy views and slogans in which he created; nor will we apologize for invoking our First Amendment right to free speech, in which so many brave men and women have sacrificed their lives to protect. Being uncomfortable is not a reason to stifle a group from utilizing their constitutional rights to advocate their policy preferences.

Furthermore, there have been allegations that members of the Augustana Republicans float have engaged in “racial slurs” and “obscene gestures” towards members of the Black Lives Matter protest, which raised their clenched fists defiantly at us as our float concluded its route. These allegations are completely unfounded and categorically untrue. There is no evidence that members of our group EVER said anything so horrible or acted in a way that would have been disrespectful. There is a substantial difference between chanting “Build the Wall,” “All Lives Matter,” and “Lock Her Up” and partaking in racist remarks and actions. That being said, if we ever see any evidence indicating that members of the Augustana Republicans partook in any of these alleged slurs and gestures, reprimand will ensue. As the chairwoman of the Augustana Republicans, I absolutely do NOT condone any of the actions in which we have been accused of, and you can be sure that if there was any wrongdoing by any member of my organization, it will be dealt with swiftly. However, that is not the case. To outwardly accuse members of the Augustana Republicans of such actions without any kind of proof is defamatory and unacceptable [Cara Beck, Facebook post, Augustana Republicans page, 2016.10.16].

I agree that if the Augustana Republicans want to bear the moral stain of uttering the un-American language of Donald Trump, the First Amendment protects their right to do so, as surely as it protects the right of hippies to burn flags or Klansmen to heil Hitler or Black Lives Matter protestors to raise the classic clenched fists of the Black Power movement. O’Hara’s suggestion that the Augustana Republicans’ exercise in vile but free speech warrant formal punishment goes too far.

However, Beck’s response gets a little fuzzy in both intent and responsibility. Shouting “Build a wall!” and “Lock her up!” doesn’t make a real, practical policy statement. “Build a wall” is a crowd-pleasing fantasy that will not happen (at least not on Mexico’s dime). “Lock her up” is, at best, a complaint that responsible investigators can’t alchemize partisan invective into evidence that would support prosecution and, at worst, a grim cry for tyranny.

Beck also doesn’t quite understand that an official parade entry flying a club banner is no longer a loose collection of individuals. If one Augustana Republican pees off the side of the parade float, the public embarrassment trickles down to dampen all Augustana Republicans.

Beck does not distinguish Trumpists from non-Trumpists on the float. Neither would any parade-goer. Neither did O’Hara—he accused no individual and attributed the Trumpist language to the Augie GOPers as a group. And even if the Augustana Republicans want to bring a defamation suit, it will be interesting to hear them argue that one defames Republicans by attributing to them the words and demonstrated attitude of their Presidential nominee.

Related Reading: Charles M. Blow writes in today’s New York Times that Donald Trump is “The Worst of America.”

17 Responses to Augustana Republican Chair Uncomfortably Embraces Trumpist Language

  1. Nick Nemec

    Chants to “lock her up” and “build a wall” weren’t directed at any specific person , race or nationality? I beg to differ. If not Sec. Clinton who are the Augustana Republicans wanting to lock up? This chant was clearly directed at a specific person. The chant to build a wall is a racist attack against Mexicans, a group Donald Trump has frequently attacked.

  2. Darin Larson

    The Augustana Republicans are free to take up the tin-horn dictator slogans of their perverted nominee. Maybe some of them could take some classes in the political science building that would make them question some of the dangerous utterances of the casino operator that has hijacked their GOP. Maybe they could take some classes in business to avoid going bankrupt like their nominee’s businesses on 6 occasions. Maybe they could take some classes in history to avoid repeating the mistakes that their nominee seems intent on making. Maybe they could take some classes on the freedom of the press which Trump has threatened to curb when they are critical of him. Maybe they could take some classes on Due Process of law and respecting our government institutions and Constitution because their nominee seems to have no interest in such things. Maybe if they take enough classes at Augustana they will even understand what a dangerous demagogue their nominee is. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

  3. mike from iowa

    Well said Nick and Darin.

  4. Maybe Ms. Beck could take a class on remedial English. Her writing and grammar are not up to college standards.

  5. Beck: “The chants were not directed at any specific person, race, nationality, or organization.”

    Yes, because we all know “build a wall” is a slogan meant to refer to the need to improve our nation’s infrastructure…. so the wall they were referring to is clearly part of a levy system designed to keep the Red River from flooding Fargo.

    Also, the “Lock her Up” chant wasn’t directed at any single person, but rather is mean to convey the fight for legal justice and thus is meant to suggest the idea of locking the scales of lady justice so that both sides are equal.

    See? Clearly nothing in either of those chants is directed at any specific race, nationality or person.

    (sarcasm intended)

  6. I wonder if Beck even knows that the phrase “All Lives Matter” is in fact subtle racism? It is meant to diminish the power of the BLM movement, because the BLM movement has never been about saying ONLY black lives matter, but rather that black lives matter TOO. To repeat or chant “All Lives Matter” it wishes to strip BLM of the only thing they are fighting for and merely reinforces the status quo. Granted I’m not a fan of BLM and the movement has been corrupted in many areas and by many people, but the premise of racial equality is something I can support regardless of who is pushing for it.

    Yelling “All Lives Matter” directly into the face of black students takes it a step further. That is no longer subtle racism but rather overt racism. Beck should apologize on behalf of anyone in her group which said these things, but instead she defends it under the mantra of free speech.

    The good news is Beck is clearly demonstrating the skillset required to be a major power player in today’s Republican Party. Ignore facts, shift into a victim mindset, blame others, deny wrongdoing, and ensure any written statement includes catchphrases such as “brave men and women” or “constitutional rights” without understanding that although words may be protected by the Constitution, it does nothing to prevent responses or actions based upon those words.

    I sincerely hope Beck isn’t a Senior, because she has a lot of growing up to do before she enters the real world.

  7. I was with you until the last line of your article, which is dumb. Like, really dumb. You do realize you are using a guilt by association argument to put words into people’s mouth’s, right? I have never seen a “member of same political party of person who actually said those words, ergo you said it” defense to defamation.

  8. Yep Mr. Rorschach, Ms. Beck needs some remedial English and perhaps a little Book reading as well. Racism is an invention of America that was not prevalent until after 1492 here. Slavery will do that though, as what was once a trophy of war, suddenly became the common man’s conquest. Trumpsters are not known for their prowess in thought or historical matters either, fascism works like that. Their parents taught them well and should be proud of them for sticking to their false ideals of being thoroughbreds.

  9. At least they didn’t chant “Grab some p****y!” Good Christian values over there at the AU.

    Sadly there seems to be very little intellectual curiosity, original thinking or collegial debate at Augie.

    The administration must be so proud.

  10. Jana, Beck’s defense owuld seem to justify shouting that very phrase. The defense attempts to excuse “Build a wall” and “lock her up” as slogans, as words that don’t mean what they say; why not permit a shout calling for a handful of genitalia, not as a literal expression laden with aggression and vulgarity, but simply as a repetition of a favored candidate’s language?

    Nick and others get me thinking that the GOP is falling back on a lot of relativism this year to excuse their words.

  11. Hang on, Dicta. Let me see if I can parse my closing statement and your interpretation.

    1. O’Hara said that Augie GOPers (when will someone rechristen the Grand Old Party the GrOPers?) shouted the slogans of Donald Trump.
    2. Beck said that saying that they said things that Donald Trump said is defamatory.
    3. The implication of that statement is that we hurt people’s reputations by saying that they talk like Donald Trump.
    4. Whether or not Beck and other Augie GOPers said Trumpist things is not the main question… or at least it’s not the complete question. To prove defamation, yes, Beck would have to prove that what O’Hara said about the Augie GOP float is false, that no one on the float said the things he said they said. But Beck would have to go further and demonstrate that attributing such Trumpist words to people actually hurts their reputation, which claim I’d love to see affirmed in court.
  12. She is definitely good at REPUBLICAN LOGIC!

  13. 1. LOL. Well played. But that’s not all they said: “Furthermore, there have been allegations that members of the Augustana Republicans float have engaged in “racial slurs” and “obscene gestures” towards members of the Black Lives Matter protest, which raised their clenched fists defiantly at us as our float concluded its route.”

    I think this is where you and I are not seeing the same things (don’t misunderstand me, I think Trump is a racist pig).

  14. Ah, there’s nothing quite like a flock of Lutheran bigots. Be thankful you didn’t have to attend a service for the evidence. (And the have the gaul to wonder why organized religion is retreating faster than the glaciers and ice caps.)

  15. The Trump brand has been badly damaged and Augie Republicans have done the same to themselves and the University. This is the same group that grifted their way to CPAC to learn about personal responsibility and had members convicted of felony voter fraud.

    These guys are like Animal House and probably need to be placed on double secret probation.

  16. Where in MN can you find the last place that is totally full of blond blue-eyed white people.
    A Lutheran church

  17. Last place as in the only place left.