Compassion: May 3, 2018

Dear Mr. VP,

I just finished reading this opinion piece, written by Eugene Scott, in the Washington Post.

Like I did yesterday, Scott writes about his concerns with your tacit endorsement of Joe Arpaio. To recap, you called him “A tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.”

Scott points out all the reasons you shouldn’t be praising Arpaio.

In July 2017, Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt when a federal judge ruled he had deliberately ignored a court order for his department to cease and desist racial profiling individuals who appeared to be Latino.

Here are a few other things Arpaio is known for:

He was and continues to be a proponent of the “birther” conspiracy theory that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

A judge ruled in 2008 that conditions at the Maricopa County Jail overseen by Arpaio were unconstitutional, citing inhumane conditions, including inadequate medical care, poor nutrition and overcrowding.

Referred to the “tent city” outdoor jail he opened in the early 1990s as a “concentration camp.”

Failed to adequately investigate violent crimes, including sexual ones against minors.

I talked about a lot of those yesterday. Scott and I agree.

Where we diverge is here: Scott’s attempts to brand you as a previously “compassionate conservative.” Even the headline indicates this: Pence’s ‘compassionate conservative’ credentials take a major hit with embrace of Arpaio.

To quote Scott further:

Many people, especially anti-Trump conservatives, thought Pence was different. The man praised for his evangelical faith has, on more than one occasion, spoken with compassion about the marginalized groups Trump seems to offend every time he addresses an issue related to them.

To see the vice president, an outspoken Christian, embrace a man responsible for a string of human rights concern could have real consequences for Pence in the long term.

Perhaps Scott and I have a different definition of the word “compassionate”, but I fail to see how this is the first time you’ve lacked compassion.

In Indiana, in the face of an H.I.V. epidemic linked to re-use of needles, it took two months for you to listen to people on the ground and okay a needle exchange. Dozens of people contracted H.I.V. in the meantime. That is not compassion.

As governor, you signed a law requiring all fetal tissue to be buried. This means people having miscarriages would have to save the tissue and blood, take it to a hospital or clinic, and have it cremated or buried. Forcing people to deal with funereal arrangements for a fetus? That is not compassion.

You also tried to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. That is not compassion. 

You expressed support for conversion therapy. Telling LGBTQ people there is something fundamentally wrong with them that needs to be shocked out of them? That is not compassion. 

You repeatedly supported the GOP health plan, which would have kept children, the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, and anyone with a human body who isn’t wealthy, from accessing the care they need. That is not compassion.

A tax bill that takes from the poor to give to the rich? That is not compassion.

Apparently we’re at a point in history when a compassionate Republican is just anyone who isn’t outspokenly racist and dog-whistling to white supremacists.


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