Tags: Steve Scalise | racism | media

Rep. Steve Scalise Decries Media's 'False Narrative' On His Racial Views

Image: Rep. Steve Scalise Decries Media's 'False Narrative' On His Racial Views
(Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 02 Apr 2015 01:05 PM

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana says media worked to create a largely "false narrative" about his racial views after he spoke more than a dozen years ago to a group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

In an exclusive interview with The Hill, the third-ranking Republican, describes how he has been deeply hurt but has also weathered a storm that he asserts falsely depicted how he feels about race.

He says the media's version doesn't track with his record, which he argues was deliberately left out of coverage. And he's working to repair any upset his actions have caused.

"When you get into this line of work, you're in public office, you expect you're gonna have cheap shots taken at you. That's part of the process," Scalise told The Hill.

"The thing that probably frustrated me and hurt me the most was when there were inaccurate stories written about me or stories that were written that were trying to imply or infer things that weren't true."

The former state lawmaker, who joined the House in 2008, sparked outrage after it came to light that he spoke in 2002 to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, also known as EURO, founded by Duke.

He has since apologized, noting he made a mistake after initially saying that he didn't realize what the group stood for at the time he accepted the speaking engagement.

"At the end of the day, I also reject bigotry and I reject things that they [EURO] stood for," Scalise told The Hill.

The Hill also reported in January about minutes from a 1996 Louisiana statehouse meeting where Scalise objected to a resolution apologizing for the state's role in slavery.

According to a transcript, The Hill said he "took exception to being asked to apologize for something the present generation had no part in."

He defended his work with youth from a local housing project before Hurricane Katrina when he coached a basketball team. He also served on the board of Teach for America, a program designed to place non-traditional teachers into inner-city schools, and one he says changed the culture of education in New Orleans.

"We had an almost 90 percent African-American population. And kids that were graduating that couldn't even pass the exit exam, they were being denied opportunities," Scalise told the Hill. "We replaced it with a system of charter schools that have literally transformed not only the system, but have transformed people's lives."

He added of his one-on-one engagement. "The kids I coached, every single one of them, either had a friend who had been shot or killed in drug violence. And these were kids just looking for a way out. One of my kids was shot in a drive-by shooting just standing on his porch. These are kids on the front lines of inner-city violence.

"Nobody wanted to talk about that because it didn't fit the false narrative," he continued. "At the end of the day, I'm really proud of the work I did to help kids get an equal opportunity, and a lot of them have."

At least one black lawmaker, a Democrat no less, has risen to defend criticism of Scalise as racist. Scalise told Politico that he would be "forever grateful" for the support of U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, who represents Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District.

"It was offensive, and it hurt me because it wasn't true," Scalise told Politico of racism allegations leveled against him. "There were people that were trying to associate me with something that I reject."

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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana says media worked to create a largely "false narrative" about his racial views after he spoke more than a dozen years ago to a group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Steve Scalise, racism, media
594
2015-05-02
Thursday, 02 Apr 2015 01:05 PM
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