Dustin Hurst from the Montana Watchdog seems to have gotten himself a little bit of attention for one of his stories, with the National Review’s Corner, a place certainly familiar with racism, picking up his claim that Governor Schweitzer called Montanans racists. From the Watchdog:
Why did Schweitzer shepherd the innovative and groundbreaking program? Well, because Montanans are a bunch of white, racist rednecks – the governor’s words. [EMPHASIS MINE]
“All over Montana, you can walk into a bar, a café or even a school or a courthouse and just listen for a while as people talk to each other,” Schweitzer explained, shortly after noting 93 percent of his state’s population is classified as Caucasian. “And you will hear somebody, before very long, say something outrageously racist about the people who’ve lived in Montana for 10,000 years.”
That’d be one heck of a story if it were true. The governor’s thoroughly entertaining remarks about the state of Montana were recorded by the Ohio Democratic Party and are available here for your review.
The remarks in question come at about 8:14 in the video. At no time, did Governor Schweitzer says that Montanans were a bunch of racists, redneck or otherwise.
Instead, what the governor did say was something that’s pretty damn important. There are pockets of racism here in Montana, just like everywhere else. Through the Indian Education for All program, though, Montana has decided to take a critically important step to ensure that our young people see Indians in an accurate light.
Schweitzer’s absolutely right. There is little hope of changing the attitudes of those who, as adults, still espouse racist views, but programs like Indian Education for All will go a long way towards reducing racist beliefs in the future. The truth has a funny way of defeating the lies of stereotypes—and IEFA combats those stereotypes with engaging and effective lessons that address the importance of Indian tribes in our history and our future.
It’s well past the time when we should expect honest reporting from the Montana Watchdog, so that’s not even the real issue of this post. What matters most is that we should be proud of Governor Schweitzer—both for acknowledging and confronting the racism that still persists in Montana and for supporting critical programs like IEFA which combat it.