The reelection campaign of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has parted ways with Roan Garcia-Quintana, a volunteer who belongs to a white supremacist group. Garcia-Quintana says he's not a racist. "Is it racist to be proud of your own heritage? Is it racist to want to keep your own heritage pure?" he told The State last week, before he got canned. "Racist is when you hate somebody so much that you want to destroy them." Even white supremacists in are anti-lynching, so that's progress of a sort for South Carolina.
After several days of local media attention on Garcia-Quintana's views, Haley's reelection campaign asked for his resignation, and he provided it. Her campaign's statement reads: “While we appreciate the support Roan has provided, we were previously unaware of some of the statements he had made, statements which do not well represent the views of the governor. There is no place for racially divisive rhetoric in the politics or governance of South Carolina, and Governor Haley has no tolerance for it.”
Garcia-Quintana sits on the board of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which opposes "all efforts to mix the races of mankind." Several Republicans politicians, such as former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, have been criticized for attending the group's events. Garcia-Quintana also belongs to the group Americans Have Had Enough, which opposes immigration reform. (He says that would give amnesty to the "lowest of the low.") On the latter group's website, Garcia-Quintana's biography reads, "He loves the South and everything for which it stands!" Maybe this just means delicious Chik-fil-A sandwiches? Probably not. He's called himself a "Confederate Cuban."
Before they asked for his resignation, the Haley campaign defended Garcia-Quintana's racial purity views as simply conservative political views "The IRS thinks conservatives should be targeted for abuse, but Gov. Haley does not," Haley adviser Tim Pearson emailed to The State. Most conservatives would not agree. But South Carolina politics sometimes seems stuck in an earlier time. The former chair of the South Carolina Republican Party, Todd Kincannon, tweets a lot of racist jokes, and they occasionally get retweeted enough to get national attention. (He says this is commentary on... something.) In May, South Carolina Democratic Party chair Dick Harpootlian said in the next election, Democrats would "send Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from." (He says he meant her parents' small business.)
"If I were a racist, I don’t think I would be supporting somebody like Nikki Haley who appointed a black man (Tim Scott) to the U.S. Senate," Garcia-Quintana said. He just doesn't want their kids or cousins or whatever to marry his kids or cousins or nieces or nephews. South Carolina is progressing in tiny baby steps.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.