Minnesota Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen (R) joined his democratic opponent Michele Anderson in a debate Thursday on their local PBS station. Things got strange as the conservative Senator began a rant denying racism exists because Obama was elected in 2008.
As seen in the video below, Ingebrigtsen continued by blaming the Obama administration saying "we went backwards" on racism the Senator does not believe exists.
When the moderator asked how each candidate proposed to combat racial disparities, Anderson called out Sen. Ingebrigtsen's lack of action saying:
"I appreciate the work that Senator Ingebrigtsen does, but unfortunately, this is something I really think he needs to do a better job on."
Anderson brought out how students have been proven to do better in school when they have role models who look like them so she would like to see more teachers of color in Minnesota classrooms.
This is where things got weird.
Rather than acknowledge the data and offer solutions to improve such racial disparities, Senator Ingebrigtsen scrambled for an explanation.
"Well, quite frankly, I think this country is going through some times now where I guess it's the… I guess I don't know how to put it, exactly. But I don't think there's an educational opportunity that's been turned down for a teacher."
He then embraced full-fledged denial saying:
"We shouldn't even be talking about this. We shouldn't even be discussing this. And I don't believe there is racial discrimination going on. I absolutely don't."
No one was buying the Senator's denial.
The Senator reminisced of how he had lived during segregation and the civil rights movement of the 60s where protesters where attacked by authorities with "fire trucks and hoses and dogs and horses."
Ingebrigtsen failed to find parallels between then and today's current movement that has had police brutality injuries and authority's continued use of tear gas —banned in warfare since 1925 by the Geneva Protocol— on protesters seeking racial justice. Instead he insisted we have come "leaps and bounds" since his time.
What's the proof the Senator has that weighs more heavily than a myriad of expert studies?
Ingebrigtsen says it's because America has had Obama as President. One, single, non-white President since it's founding in 1776.
"But to sit here and lie to people and say we are in a horrible racist situation in this country, I'd have to ask, how did Obama get to be where he is? How did these professional sports stars get to be where they are?"
Twitter users weren't having it.
Ingebrigtsen has had a history of making such controversial statements during his career. Thankfully, the internet or a local library can provide access to research, statistics, and American history to help someone in such disbelief understand systematic racism. Perhaps the Senator will check it out sometime.