Vanity Fair, the magazine that launched Beto O'Rourke's failed 2020 presidential campaign, has published a profile of Rep. Val Demings (D., Fla.), the frontrunner to win her party's nomination and lose to Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) in the state's election for the Senate.
The article opens with an outrageous anecdote that no legitimate opponent of racism could read without literally shaking. Demings was caught red-handed peddling a racist stereotype, which as we all know is indistinguishable from physical violence. The candidate's praise for the story suggests she has absolutely no remorse for her destructive actions.
The racist incident took place at a diner in Lake County, where Demings "milled about with twinkling eyes" before being approached by "a white man with sparse grays and a stubbly beard [who] grabbed her right hand." Here is reporter Rita Omokha's chilling account of the racist act:
"Miss Demings?" he said, locking eyes.
Her staffers stood more erect.
"I want to ask you—" the man began.
"Can I pray for you?" the man asked, his voice soft, his gaze on Demings as he cradled her hands.
Her staffers’ shoulders dropped in relief. In a town where Confederate flags fly freely, in a state that increasingly restricts LGBTQ+, reproductive, and voting rights, and bans history books while its Republican officials call a mob attack on the Capitol legitimate political discourse, their fear of the worst-case scenario was no exaggeration.
The sweet old man bowed his head and closed his eyes. He proceeded to pray, unfazed by the bigoted assault on his white body. "God, I ask that you watch over Miss Demings as she rides her motorcycle. That you keep your hand of protection on her, guide her, and encourage her. We bless your name. In Jesus's name. Amen."
Demings "dwelled on that encounter" hours later during a debrief with campaign staffers and "reflected on how stereotypes can creep in unexpectedly, even when we know better." She appeared to accept at least some responsibility for her actions, but resisted a deep reckoning with the harm she had inflicted on an innocent man. "What I felt, it wasn't him, it was me," she said. "I looked at him and thought about the people that broke into the Capitol."
The reporter didn't bother to examine the pain that sweet old man must have felt after being racially victimized by an elected official. All he wanted to do was pray, but Demings couldn't see past his white skin. In the courtroom of her racist mind, he was just another QAnon Shaman fomenting insurrection, presumed guilty of a treasonous crime along with every other white man.
That's unacceptable. The citizens of Florida deserve better.