(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
The Denver Post published a few thoughtful letters over the weekend about whether the New York Times erred in reporting on the potential impact of Republican candidate for governor Walker Stapleton’s family ties to the KKK.
The letters responded to Post columnist Mario Nicolais’ June 29 piece titled “The New York Times kneecaps Walker Stapleton.”
In his column, Nicolais complained that the Times article, titled “Family History Haunts G.O.P. Candidate for Governor in Colorado” by Julie Turkewitz, was a “hit piece.” “It’s dirty, it’s wrong, and it contributes to the dumbing-down of the electoral process,” wrote Nicolais.
One letter writer, Ryan Bauer of Thornton, points out that Nicolais, who’s normally super detail-oriented, somehow failed to note that Walker Stapleton once bragged about his great-grandfather, Benjamin Stapleton, who was a leader of the Colorado KKK in the 1920s,
As the Times article points out, Stapleton touted his great-grandfather’s public service in at least one campaign ad as a candidate for state treasurer in 2009. He has avoided the issue more recently with rising public awareness of Benjamin Stapleton’s Klan affiliation, i.e. efforts to rename the Stapleton neighborhood as well as an eponymous school.
If Walker Stapleton felt it was appropriate to highlight his great-grandfather’s accomplishments for electoral gain, he also must decry the ugly, racist side of that legacy. It’s a loose end that, unless Stapleton officially comments, voters will be left to wonder whether his sympathies lie with the white nationalist bloc under the Trump-GOP tent.
A second letter, by Nancy Banks, states. in part:
Nicolais correctly argues that Walker Stapleton isn’t responsible for the sins of his great-grandfather; however, he ignores the fact that Walker Stapleton is not a self-made politician, but instead is the beneficiary of the political dynasty started by his great-grandfather — a dynasty that had initial success based on Benjamin Stapleton’s support for white supremacy and his support by white supremacists.
Voters are entirely within their rights to ask Walker Stapleton what that dynasty means to him, and to get a clear answer from him.
A third letter writer wrote:
I note that Denver attorney Mario Nicolais in his op-ed justifiably lambastes the New York Times for its association of Colorado gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton with the membership of his great grandfather Benjamin Stapleton in the Ku Klux Klan.
It is rather ironic to say the least that on the very next page George Will begins his criticism of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez by noting that “For three months in 1917, Leon Trotsky lived in the Bronx, just south of the congressional district where Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez recently defeated a 10-term incumbent in a Democratic primary.” C’mon George.