For a while now the Nebraska GOP has had a Nazi problem, and a new chapter was added last week at the legislature. Senator Julie Slama was appointed by Governor Ricketts to her seat in the Legislature, but prior to that she served alongside confirmed white supremacist Bennett Bressman on Ricketts’s 2018 reelection campaign. You would think serving alongside a nazi on a campaign might make Slama at least somewhat cautious about where her alliances are, if for nothing else to avoid the embarrassment of association. A person who truly found Bressman’s history to be problematic and hateful would vow to never be associated with anyone who holds such an ideology again. And if she wanted history to smile upon her she would be vocally standing up to nazis instead of giving them cover.
However, that’s not how things went in the Judiciary Committee hearing on February 21. A person listed on Southern Povery Law Center as a “Neo Nazi” led hundreds of people, including two men with assault weapons openly carried around the Capitol, to oppose a moderate gun control bill.
From her Ricketts appointed seat, Slama first intervened to silence testifiers who mentioned the neo-Nazi sympathies of the gun advocates of the room, scolding them to keep their testimony “relevant.” She then left the room, apparently to avoid having to listen to further testimony calling out the white supremacy of the gun advocates. She returned to the hearing only after proponents for the suicide prevention bill finished. On her way back to the room, she thanked and shook hands with a man open carrying an assault weapon, which he described as “fully loaded with one in the chamber.”
Finally, after the committee allowed the neo-Nazi to speak a minute beyond the time allowed to any other testifier, Slama doubled his time at the mic to go on the official record to respond to the allegations that he is a neo-Nazi. He responded by affirming that he loves the white race above all other races.
So, in sum: armed white supremacists came to the Nebraska state capitol and three unapologetic, unafraid women rose to speak truth to power: that the venn diagram of white supremacists and gun hoarders are two significantly overlapping circles. In response, Ricketts’s appointee gave the nazi and the rest of us a gift. Despite hearing about and being provided print documentation of his nazi sympathies, Slama gave him extra talking time, which he turned into a rope to hang himself with and tether himself to her. Later, in an attempt at damage control, Slama took to social media to say she was “shocked and dismayed” that the man who had been repeatedly identified as a Nazi indeed confirmed that he was a Nazi when she tried to salvage his reputation. His long, racist, hate-filled screed–the committee, including Slama, game him a total of triple the time afforded to those speaking for gun control–was enabled and amplified by the shameless pandering of Ricketts’s appointee.
Since Friday, Seeing Red contributors have heard from two state senators that pointing out the Nazi sympathies of the gun profiteer who paid blood money to bus in a hoard of gun-toting lobbyists is “irrelevant” and “not helpful.” But we believe what a wise woman once said: when people in power go out of their way to say what you do isn’t working, keep doing it.
Heather Heyer is a hero. Be like Heather.