Civil Rights Commission Ousts VT Chair Over Anti-Bush Comments, Nazi Comparison

The conservative-controlled U.S. Commission on Civil Rights ousted the chairman of the agency’s Vermont State Advisory Committee last week over an October column in which he wrote that the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s “Pure Vermont” slogan “raises the specter of Hilter’s Aryan Nation and the Khmer Rouge, where the purifying agent was genocide.”

The commission voted not to reauthorize the reappointment of Curtiss Reed Jr. as chair of the Vermont SAC, though he had the unanimous support of the rest of the Vermont committee. In an interview with TPM on Tuesday, Reed said his remarks were not intended to imply that former gubernatorial candidate Brian Dubie was a racist.“‘Pure Vermont’ had a double entendre there that I felt that the Dubie campaign needed to pay attention to and acknowledge,” Reed said. “In no way was I suggesting or stating that Dubie was in any way racist or in any way a bad person, my point was that given the changes of demographics in Vermont, his campaign people chose a poor choice of words to brand him.”

Reed had written that Brian Dubie’s “Pure Vermont” brand “is another example of cross-cultural blundering.” That column was removed from the website of the paper that originally published it and eventually republished by a different site.

“Presumably, the slogan refers to Vermont’s agricultural products and environmental legacy,” Reed wrote. “But for many Vermonters, these words denote racial, religious and cultural oppression. They imply that Vermont is a place reserved for white Christians.”

The Volokh Conspiracy published the line that was removed from the now-reposted article:

Dubie’s brand resurrects the horror of the Eugenics Survey and the 1931 passage of An Act for Human Betterment by Voluntary Sterilization. This measure codified the practice of racism, harassment, and the sterilization of the Abenaki people. “Pure Vermont” raises the specter of Hilter’s Aryan Nation and the Khmer Rouge where the purifying agent was genocide.

In addition to his comments about Dubie’s slogan, Reed suggested in a 2008 interview with NPR that there was an effort by the Bush administration to curtail civil rights. Reed’s dismissal was first reported by the Associated Press.

The conservative majority of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has come under criticism for its focus on the New Black Panther Party case. President Barack Obama is expected to announce two new appointments any day who will replace two George W. Bush appointees. The Commission recently approved a report slamming the Justice Department’s handling of the voter intimidation case.

“I would certainly hope that the commission itself would be more balanced with the appointments from the President,” Reed told me.

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