Meet Rep. Melissa Hortman, the House minority leader for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party in Minnesota. Her GOP colleagues are outraged and demand an apology for her recent comments.
But she’s got zero patience for their arrogance and disrespect, and is not backing down. It all started Monday as Republicans jammed a measure into a Public Safety bill that would crack down on protesters who block freeways and entrances to airports and light rail stations.
MPR News reports the debate got heated as two women of color gave impassioned and “deeply personal” speeches to defend our right to protest. Yet Melissa Hortman noticed that some of her white, male colleagues not only weren’t listening, they weren’t even in the room.
Where were they? In the “retiring room” playing cards. Incensed, she called them out from the House floor.
“I hate to break up the 100 percent white male card game in the retiring room but I think this is an important debate,”
The House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin furiously demanded an apology, but Melissa Hortman refused. After all, when you’re about to strip people’s rights away, you should at least have the courage to hear their response.
“I thought it was very disrespectful. I thought it was impolite, I thought it was rude and I thought it needed to be called out,”
She adds that the behavior of her GOP colleagues (and, alas, some of her more right-leaning Democratic ones) goes beyond the pale. Who the hell else even does this?
“This is a new thing, members sitting in the back playing cards for extended periods of time. There is a whole new level of disrespect and disregard for debate and discussion. I don’t know a lot of people who get to sit for two hours and play cards and ignore what everyone else at their workplace is doing.”
The Uptake adds:
Rep. Ilhan Omar had just given a speech connecting the action of Black Lives Matter protesters back to the civil rights protests in Selma, Alabama — where state troopers brutally assaulted protesters — an event that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”
The fragile white male snowflakes in the House doubled down. Rep. Greg Davids called for her resignation and Rob Dettmer also demanded an apology. But Melissa Hortman staunchly refused.
“I have no intention of apologizing. I am so tired of watching Rep. Susan Allen give an amazing speech, Rep. Peggy Flanagan give an amazing speech, watching Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn give an amazing speech, Rep. Rena Moran give the most heartfelt, incredible speech I’ve heard on this House floor, as long as I can remember, watching Rep. Ilhan Omar give an amazing speech … and looking around, to see, where are my colleagues? And I went in the retiring room, and I saw where a bunch of my colleagues were. And I’m really tired of watching women of color, in particular, being ignored. So, I’m not sorry.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Melissa Hortman explained that as leader of her caucus she felt obligated to call out her colleagues. Several members had already voiced their concerns to her about the 100 percent white male card game taking place.
“So various members of my caucus had come up to me and said, ‘They’re playing cards in the backroom, and you should do something about this.’”
Nor did she take the prospect of publicly shaming her colleagues lightly. She first texted a friend in the Republican caucus asking him to come out and bring his mentee with him. But he refused.
“And I just thought, ‘Well, there’s only one way I’m going to get them out here to listen to this, and that’s to call them out.’”
Melissa Horton even “very seriously” considered apologizing.
“And I drafted what I would have said if I had apologized, and I talked about it with my husband this morning ― my white male husband. And he said, “No! You shouldn’t be sorry! You were right. You shouldn’t be sorry.”
Likewise, her caucus’s response was best summed up by a text from one of her white male colleagues:
Watch: Minnesota State Rep. Melissa Horton refuses to apologize to her rude and callous white male colleagues.
This assault on people’s right to free speech passed 75-56, and would effectively muzzle Trump resisters, Black Lives Matter, and other movements by depriving them of the means to make themselves visible. Protesters in the North Star State can now be charged with gross misdemeanor crimes punishable with up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
Mind you these are the same people who’ve got no problem with pro-forced birth “activists” standing outside of Planned Parenthood clinics.
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