Republican Karin Housley is challenging incumbant Democratic Senator Tina Smith in this November's midterm election. Though Smith currently holds a comfortable lead in the polls, Housley's chances of winning have been called into question by the resurfacing of a 2009 Facebook post in which she compares then-first lady Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee.
In her post, she comments on Michelle Obama's posture when meeting Queen Elizabeth:
Michelle is soooo far from cool. Don't we expect our First Ladies to at least stand up straight? (And my dear sister, know the proper etiquette and DO NOT TOUCH THE QUEEN!)
She then takes things a step farther, going out of her way to bring up Bonzo, then-actor Ronald Reagan's chimpanzee co-star in Bedtime for Bonzo:
I do miss Nancy Reagan. Ronald even more. Speaking of Bedtime for Bonzo, I think even that chimp stood up straighter than Michelle. Uh-oh, someone is going to make a comment.
Her last statement makes it clear Housley knew what she was doing was improper. Comparisons between black individuals and apes has been a staple of racist rhetoric since the earliest days of slavery, when such comparisons were used to justify the immorality of enslaving another race.
The instinct to dehumanize and belittle those you're attacking still plays a common role in human culture, as does this particular comparison. As recently as this past May, Roseanne Barr was fired from her position at ABC for commenting that Valerie Jarrett, a former Obama Staffer," looks like the child of the "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes." To elect Housley, Minnesotans will have to overlook extremely similar behavior.
Jake Schneider, a spokesperson for Housley, responded to Huffpost when asked whether Housley still stood by her 2009 comments:
It's not surprising the Huffington Post—basically an extension of the Democratic Party—would do Tina Smith's dirty work for her. This is what the radical left does when they are losing—they attack Republicans so they don't have to come up with solutions to the problems Minnesotans are facing.
By this point, Housley is well-known for her offensive rhetoric. In a 2009 column for the Stillwater Gazette, she made the case that then-VP candidate Sarah Palin was being judged unfairly because she was "hot," while implying Hillary Clinton was given the benefit of the doubt because she was unattractive.
Gov. Sarah Palin didn't even have to utter a word and people thought she wasn't qualified. Sarah is beautiful (hot even, some say), with a stunning smile, great figure and an adorable family. Is it possible that we judge the beautiful people in reverse? She's attractive, therefore not smart? Would we rather have our women in politics look like Hillary Clinton?
She has also made disparaging comments on Facebook regarding Clinton's weight and President Obama's pronunciation of Arab countries. Perhaps most uncomfortable, however, is her use of the word queer, "a term co-opted by LGBTQ-identifying people to describe non-heterosexual preferences, in a pejorative way." She wrote:
Trying to figure out why I chose that queer profile picture
After a friend commented, referencing a fuzzy purple pair of pants Housley owned, she responded:
Ummm…. listen QUEER BOY, I have lost them, seriously, lost the purple plants.
Voters on both sides of the aisle are obviously not thrilled by Housley's comments:
The midterm elections will be held on November 6, 2018, and will decide whether Housley will be speaking for the people of Minnesota for the next six years.