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Where's the historical IQ in this O.C. GOP woman? It's MIA

Obama Kansas wasn't that populous a state in the 1950s and '60s -– a couple of million people, smaller than Orange County -- so I wonder whether Marilyn Davenport ever ran into some of her fellow Kansans: Wichita folks by the name of Dunham.

Davenport now lives in Southern California. She is also the Orange County Republican Central Committee official who sent out an email to some pals a few days ago. It showed three seated figures, father, mother, baby, with chimpanzee faces pasted over the man's and the woman's faces, and President Obama's face over the baby's. "Now you know why no birth certificate," the accompanying text reads.

Davenport issued one of those passive-aggressive apologies that puts the burden on the recipient, not the sender; she has said she thought it was "amusing regarding the character of Obama" and is only sorry if anyone was offended.

Who could not be? Not only by the image and the inference but then by Davenport's protest that "in no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email."

Her explanation seems contradicted by what she told the OC Weekly in an interview, that "I only sent it to a few people — mostly people I didn't think would be upset by it." If she thought other people might be upset by it, then obviously she must have understood that it is intrinsically offensive.

Hers is as disingenuous a rationale as that offered by another Orange County official in a related predicament a couple of years ago. Just after Obama was sworn in, the mayor of Los Alamitos, Dean Grose, shared an email with a picture of the White House lawn planted with watermelons and the line ''No Easter egg hunt this year.'' Grose resigned -- something Davenport has said she will not do -- but he too explained perplexingly that he had absolutely no clue that there was any stereotype about black people and watermelon.

Really? Is life so sheltered, so insulated in Orange County that these two had never even heard of the centuries-old black people/ape slurs? How about the ''Gorillas in the Mist'' reference made by one of the four officers in the Rodney King beating case, regarding a domestic violence call to an African American household? That was all over the news in Southern California for months. And those watermelon/black people stereotypes have been around for more than a century, on postcards, in stand-up comic routines and edgy TV shows. Ring any bells? Really?

The county’s Republican chair, Scott Baugh, knows all about these stereotypes, and he told the OC Weekly: "Depicting African Americans as monkey is a longtime, well-known and particularly offensive slur because it denies them their basic humanity … The damage to the Republican Party has been done by her, and I still think she should resign."

If none of this long, wide and deep history was known to  Davenport, why did she not then send an email of a picture of a family of dolphins, with the president’s face on the youngest? Or the bears in Goldilocks? No birth certificates for marine mammals or ursines either.

So, back to Kansas, Davenport’s home state, Bleeding Kansas, the frayed rope in the tug of war over race and slavery in this country since the 19th century, a free-state-or-slave-state battleground well before the actual Civil War, and at the heart of race in America, from John Brown's raids to the Kansas-born Brown vs. the Board of Education Supreme Court case.

Maybe Davenport's path did not cross the Dunhams'. Ann Dunham -- Stanley Ann Dunham, officially -- was a few years younger than Marilyn Davenport, and her parents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, a number of years older.

The Dunhams traveled the country a bit before they came back to Kansas, and their daughter wound up at college in Hawaii, where she married a Kenyan graduate student and gave birth to her son, Stanley and Madelyn's grandson, Barack Obama -- the man whose parentage was mocked in Davenport's email.

In a later email, Davenport remarked: "To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen this email I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior. I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive.’’

"Tea party" activists set great store by American history, but theirs may be a selective enthusiasm. If you take at face value what Davenport says, that hers was an act of ignorance and not racism, then the question is: How could a daughter of Bleeding Kansas be so utterly clueless about what is, in fact, her own history and heritage -– and that of Obama and his family too?

They aren’t in Kansas anymore, yet the Sunflower State, one of the earliest scars from the nation’s deepest self-inflicted wounds, is still in them -- and in all of us, and we can only heal that scar if we are smart enough to remember it.


GOP official who sent Obama chimpanzee email: 'I am not a racist'

Orange County GOP official considers photo of President Obama as baby chimp 'amusing'

-- Patt Morrison

Photo: President Barack Obama, accompanied by Barbara Miner, PhD, Manager, Intel Transmission Electronic Microscope Lab, right, and Intel CEO Paul Otellini, second from left, looks at a computer screen at the Intel Corporation with in Hillsboro, Ore., Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. Credit: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster


Comments () | Archives (36)

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Liberteze Patriot

And just where is the connection between this idiot of a woman and the tea party (referenced in the next to last paragraph)? Please DO NOT equate any political party to the tea party, or any other part of the conservative grassroots movement. We ARE NOT the GOP!! Furthermore, we repudiate such racist material.


Marilyn Davenport knows EXACTLY what the connection between depicting the President as an ape and his race is. She claims otherwise in the vain hope that someone just might be stupid enough or naive enough to believe her. This woman has a history of racist behavior. She has defended the racist actions of her colleagues on at least two occasions in the past. And indeed, the very act of questioning the birthplace of the President is racist. The only reason that anyone questions his birthplace, regardless of the questioner's race, is because the President is Black. There is absolutely no other point on which they can get him. He is articulate, educated, wealthy, classy, ambitious and highly intelligent. As such, because his father is Kenyan, his birthplace is suspect. Miraculously, he has managed to get past all of the checkpoints that all American Presidents go through and sneak into the White House. These idiots don't really believe that and if they do, it is because they want to. They cannot and will not believe that a Black person can rightfully hold the position of the President of the United States. There must be some error in such a situation somewhere. Marilyn Davenport is the one who was stupid enough to believe that her associates were all on the same page with her. Sadly, we know that there are many more, much smarter Marilyn Davenports out there who will never be exposed and who will be in positions of power and influence.

Rebecca Fransway

Hey, Marilyn Davenport! Hope you'll be recalled or primaried as soon as possible, but meantime, behold! You've made the big times as worst person in the world, you rancid racist! http://bit.ly/gMnY9E


It's hard to believe that in this day and age someone in a position of influence and power can openly disrespect the President of our country by sharing racist "humor" and think it's amusing. Anyone who believes her claim of ignorance really is ignorant. Marilyn Davenport obviously does not know the difference between right and wrong and is most definitely politically incorrect. Her actions not only offended the President but an entire race of people as well. She should be immediately ousted from her position which should be given to someone who can represent their party with more honor and dignity. If I were a member of her organization I would be ashamed but thank goodness I am not. I support and respect my President Obama and appreciate him for doing his best to bring our country back from recession. His efforts with healthcare, education and infrastructure reform will make America a better place. He is doing a great job and I for one am glad he perseveres and does not let ignorant distractions like Marilyn Davenport get in the way.

frank burns

Thats right Patriot, you are all really into multiculturalism and sensitivity.

Vangie Meneses

The sad and pathetic thing is that Davenport has no inkling that she is a stone cold racist. She is in a position to influence policy and through the prism of racism and ilk like her, they have the power to diminish us all.


Regardless of what this woman says now, if she has any character at all, she should resign. What pathetic behavior.

T. Debley

Liberteze Patriot, who maintains there's no connection between either Marilyn Davenport and the Tea Party or the Tea Party and the GOP, needs to better informed before hitting the keyboard. Ms. Davenport has been identified in any number of news articles as "a Southern California Tea Party activist and member of the central committee of the Orange County Republican Party." Liberteze Patriot gives us all good reason to reject the Tea Party fringe as ill-informed, unthinking, true believers in things that are harmful to all Americans.


This is what the Republican party has devolved into, a collection of the ignorant, the racist and the ultra-wealthy who manipulate them.

It's just sad and pathetic.

Jason Albright

Marilyn Davenport is not ignorant, or clueless. Like this article points out, her email joke makes no sense outside of it's racist context. She knows it is a slur esp. reserved for Blacks. What she is doing is thinking that as long as she doesn't say the 'n' word, or is out burning crosses, then she must not be a racist.

That's why people like Davenport fall back so quickly on the 'I have Black friends' defense, or 'I'm a nice person'.

My Grandfather was a nice person and was generally considerate of Black people. But he didn't think for one moment that Blacks and Whites should mix, go to school together, etc, etc. He would have found this email funny, and understood it immediately.

Krisa Shea

Marilyn Davenport is a disgrace. A hateful, immature, ignorant 74 year old racist. She's a typical Tea Bigot who is angry about only one thing: That our President is not white. She has embarrassed OC, Irvine and the nation, but probably not the GOP which these days, has many, many racists just like Davenport. The GOP has become the same as the KKK and should be required to change their name to RepubLIE-KKK-CONs. And they need to stop claiming to be "Christian" when they never behave like one. They can claim to be KKKristian instead. Let's have an anti-tea-bigot rally in front of Davenport's Fullerton house this weekend and force her to resign.

Shane Aspen

All of the Tea Baggers are a bunch of old, white, ignorant racists just like Marilyn Davenport. Email the OC GOP to let them know how you feel about their Ms. Davenport: Email address is: [email protected]

Alice Rion

As an independent voter, I refuse to vote for any Republican after 2 years of such vile hatred, ignorance, lies, overt racism and craziness from the desperate, outdated, hateful GOP and their Tea Bags. Stop the hate; end racism and get some work done for the economy and jobs, already!


Such vile, inexcusable hatred towards a man who is kind, intelligent, mature, poised, a loving family man, a man who loves his country and who is compassionate and working hard to make this country better. It is people like the GOP's Marilyn Davenport and so many others that bring this country down and feed ignorance, racism and hate. The old bag needs to resign.

Krista Shea

The entire Republican party needs to take tolerance and anti-bias classes. It may help, but some of them are so old, simple minded, ignorant and love to hate anyone who isn't white, that it may be difficult. And, after getting further dumbed down by the hatred and ignorance fed by Fox "news", it may be very difficult for any of them to ever be real Christians and stop all the hate towards anyone who is not white.


This article is racist. It references IQ, which all right-thinking people know is a concept that measures nothing useful and is a racist concept designed to denigrate the intelligence of people of color.

Mitchell Young

"She knows it is a slur esp. reserved for Blacks."

Really? Is that why we had about six years of Bush as chimp?

"New Scientific Study Reveals Bush is a Chimp" [You stay classy, Arianna]


Bush or Chimp?

http://bushchimp.homestead.com/ (This one includes the infant 'lil darlings')

Here's W 'morphing' into various primates.


Appealing to 'historical context' to explain why Obamachimp is evil but Bushchimp is okay fails. Fact is Morrison's grand narrative about the portrayal of blacks as apelike having much -- if anything -- to do with slavery is wrong. Do an image search for 'slave auction' and you'll see what are quite clearly humans being auctioned off; the slaveholder or seller had no interest in what was, after all, his 'human capital' being portrayed as anything less.

After the Civil War there were popular series of caricatures of blacks -- Harper's had 'Blackville', Currier and Ives "Darktown" . To be sure they portrayed exagerated features, and had captions in phony 'negro dialect' etc. Here's an example:


But there really is nothing apelike there, unless you think 'dark=ape'. In the 19th century all groups were caricatured more roughly than in our sensitive times, and I'll bet you'd be as likely to find a simian-looking Irishman as a black.


Jon Healey

@Thomas -- And your comment is nonsensical. Stop trolling.

Jon Healey

@Krista, Karila, Alice and Shane -- Perhaps you all should follow Krista's admonition and take a tolerance class too. Declaring that all Republicans are this, that or the other is exactly the kind of stereotyping that you all decry. Especially you, Shane. Go to a few Tea Party rallies before you offer any more ill-formed opinions about who constitutes the membership. There's no Tea Party, really -- it's a whole bunch of Tea Parties, each with its own following and its own set of anxieties about government.

You might also check out Mitchell's comment for an example of how to build an argument around evidence, not emotion. And how to keep it civil.



It was tongue in cheek. There really are people on the Left who say exactly that about IQ.

Dr. Alan G Phillips, Sr

The President of the United States, his wife and children are owed a written apology from Davenport. As a Republican candidate participating in the Iowa 2012 GOP caucuses I urge my many friends and all GOP candidates to condemn this example of racist indiscretion. One's admission of historical ignorance and lack of awareness may be a first stepin apologizing by Davenport but she should immediately resign her committee service. This action was disgraceful when used against Abraham Lincoln in the publications of his era, it is even more ludicrous today. I condemn it.

Dr. Alan G Phillips, Sr
Bloomington, IL


That photo was done, who knows adobe photoshop? It might be you know photoshop or you paid somebody to do it for you? It means it is intentionally done. Sorry is not good enough to hear if you did it with intention. Shame on you, you are already old lady, and we are young. We know how to behave better than the old people like you. This is bad deeds if you believe in God. Do you think people forgive you or God? You represent America how you treat your President no matter if he is Republican or Democrat. People around the world looking at you. What do you think if people see this and this is the representation of people in America? How we behave and use our education being a role model in the society? How can we respect the older people here if they don't even know what is right and what is wrong?


Ms. Davenport....you are fired!


I don't know whether the woman is racist and knew what she was doing, but there are a couple of major jumps to conclusion after the two main points of evidence are presented:

1. "If she thought other people might be upset by it, then obviously she must have understood that it is intrinsically offensive." Yes, but not necessarily because it's racist. If someone put George Bush's head on a monkey's body, I'd assume some people would be offended by it too.

2. "If none of this long, wide and deep history was known to Davenport, why did she not then send an email of a picture of a family of dolphins, with the president’s face on the youngest?" Davenport forwarded the e-mail. She did not make the picture.

Geoff Ward

Maybe a good thing President Obama has fundraisers in LA tomorrow. The white supremacism in the air might inspire the spirit of giving. Of course, I'm sure he'd rather just arrive as a sitting American president looking to win the support of his people, but we aren't that nation yet, that nation where his people would simply mean fellow Americans.


But michelle obama DOES look like a chimp or a monkey, this is not racism, it is just facts and observation. Bush was also compared to a monkey and nobody complained. Do we have a doouble standard? Truth hurts?


gbnobama to say the president's wife looks like a chimp means you and your family does too. Since my father in heaven created all of us in his imagine you are saying that God is a chimp/monkey too.


What this woman did is inexcuseable. The ugliness of it is only softened by the ever self important Elsworth Too- er Pat Morrison, delivering the message.


This poor excuse of a woman knew exactly what she was posting and what it meant. The problem for "her" and the "party" itself is that now the public knows exactly how they feel about minorities in this Country. Not only blacks, but Hispanics, Gays, etc. For this piece of work to mock the president is beyond belief after looking at her.I have seen better leather on a saddle bag.


Shane Aspen- wow your response isn't racist -old rich white people-really? This kind of response is exactly why the Tea Part thrives. Do you think you'll shame people into your point of view? Try for a more nuanced suggestion and you might get somewhere.

Angie Wallberg

The explanations given by these Orange County politicians are completely laughable - from the White House lawn/watermelon explanation to the current extraordinary "apology" given by Marilyn Davenport.....how could one not think that the picture she posted was racist? She needs to step down - I am sure she is not representing the majority of the OC voters, and if I were one - I would be on her doorstep right now with an empty truck - three strikes you are out!


Racist B@#$h

Ron Paul

Remember when the GOP stood for balanced budgets, individual freedom and isolationism.

The Republican Party has run up these deficits, we want the federal government to be in our bedrooms and between our women and their doctors, we started two wars instead of ending them like the Korean War and were supposed to stop the Vietnam War the Democrats started. We have lost our way!

So why waste our time with these fools who use their racist rhetoric, like this Marilyn Davenport and Donald Trump with his birther unproven myth, why do we allow our Fox news people to keep talking down our country. Don’t they know we can win the next election with optimism and hope instead of the current rhetoric, that the sky is falling, if we are not careful we will end up like chicken little where no one will listen to us.


OMG! This lady amazes me, unbelievable! I can't believe there are people like her out there.. so nuts!


Republicans need to demand her resignation. She shouldn't be allowed anywhere near any Republican position of authority.


She must step down so we may honor all who have been marginalized by her kind for too long. There is no place for people of her ilk in public life. Decency must never take a back seat in any arena; it is the cornerstone of character and lack of it must be called out.



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