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Nikki Haley In The Media

June 24, 2010

On Tuesday night, 38 year-old Nikki Haley became the first GOP woman and Indian-American candidate for South Carolina Governor.  The run-off election was a result of Haley’s inability to capture the required majority vote to win the race outright on June 8th.  This election was surrounded in nation-wide media attention, as various allegations surrounding possible affairs surfaced, and as the possibility of the first woman and Indian-American candidate for Governor in this conservative state quickly became a reality.  While Haley has stood strong against serious personal attacks, she should stop trying to wipe these attacks under the carpet.  Instead, she should start spending time addressing these attacks and show that she will not stand for racial and gender bias. In November she will be facing Democratic State Senator Vincent Sheheen, in a much hyped campaign for the state of South Carolina. Haley has come under numerous attacks in recent weeks, with rumors of her infidelity just the beginning.  Since then, there have been extremely serious attacks on her gender and race.  There were statements made by political leaders that declared Haley a “Raghead” and a “Whore.”  This use of “slut-baiting,” as some have come to call it was a blatant attempt to sink Haley’s campaign.  Our government is over two hundred years old.  Why must bigotry, misogyny and slander still be used?  It is time to step up and address the issues rather than ignoring it altogether in hopes that it will just disappear. A couple of weeks ago, the Women’s Campaign Forum addressed the sexist and derogatory comments in their blog piece.  “RedState, a leading Republican blog, objectified Haley to a disgusting level when blogger Erick Ericson stated, in “defense” of Haley: “This violates the very basic laws of nature: hot women do not have affairs with ugly guys unless those guys are rich.” Ericson then went on to take it to a new low: “Take home point for the moms in the audience: how likely is it that a hot woman would want to have an “inappropriate physical relationship” with this guy when, according to his timeline, she would have had very small children at the time and more likely than not wanted sleep above all other things?” The WMC agrees with the Women’s Campaign Forum.  These egregious comments are both misogynistic and disgusting. Nikki Haley’s victory has created a state and media uproar, which will undoubtedly continue and grow into November.  When questioned about her upbringing by immigrant parents, and about her gender and race, Haley replied, “I think the timing is right, where people realize this is about issues; it’s not about gender; it’s not about race.”  Her statement is most likely an attempt to remove attention away from her race and gender, yet her actions and the behavior of her supporters prove otherwise.  According to a Politico Story written by Jonathon Martin, on Monday morning, at a rally in a Main Street Café, many of her supporters were donning pink shirts with inspirational quotations on the back. One such “Haley for Governor” shirt had the Margaret Thatcher quote which read, “If you want something said, ask a man.  If you want something done, ask a woman.”  While her statement avoids all notions of identity politics, it is precisely her gender and background that have made this election such a story for the media; and her supporters are more than willing to play off of this.  Haley has tapped into the desire of half the population to see one of their own in gubernatorial power. Nikki Haley has turned around the notion that women and minorities do not belong in government, and used it to her advantage whether she would like to admit it or not.  If Haley hopes to see a government where it really is about the issues, and not about the identity politics, then she should start to admit the huge role it has played in her own election.  Without the media storm surrounding her in this election, it is unlikely that Nikki Haley would have become the victor.  Haley should confront the hate speech.  Doing so could help show the nation that the United States is no longer a place where misogyny and bigotry will be tolerated. For more on this topic, you can read: WCF’s Blog piece Jenn Q. Public’s article in The New Agenda and Jonathon Martin’s article for Politico