A great deal has already been said about the yes-he-really-said-it Frank Artiles saga.
And there seems to be near-universal agreement on these points:
— Artiles is a world-class jerk.
— What he said goes far beyond the limits of acceptable.
— This was not his first foray into the unacceptable.
— Artiles needs professional help.
— The Senate President needs to either send him home for the session (so presumably he can get some much-needed help), encourage (also read as “force”) him to resign, or use whatever power is afforded him to have him removed from office. Something!
But there is another element and let me be among the first to write it.
Hey, senators not named Frank Artiles, now it’s your turn — and, unfortunately, there is a burden that probably falls to the black members and then the Democrats, in that order.
This is uncomfortable, and a little unfair, but the calls for an apology or sanction are not enough.
The members of the Black Caucus, in particular, know American history all too well — heck, they are living embodiments of what peaceful civil protest can yield. And they know, perhaps better than their colleagues, the power that sitting, standing, staying or leaving can have.
So here goes: If Artiles shows up to a committee or on the Senate floor, they should quietly stand up and leave. The Black Caucus members need to lead on this and, as a show of solidarity, their fellow Democrats should leave as well. I can easily take this to its natural conclusion and say ALL members should rise and quietly leave.
Not for themselves. Not for the press. Not to force the hand of the Senate President. They should walk out because their voters will genuinely appreciate that they would not sit (literally) for such utter nonsense. Members of the Black Caucus need to express zero tolerance for Artiles’ comments and his behavior.
Artiles, by merely being in the room, degrades the legitimacy of the body. Likewise, sharing the dais or the floor with him adds an element of complicity to those who tolerate his presence.
Sorry, senators. I don’t mean to make you the target, but not taking more serious action is almost tantamount to acquiescence.