Ethnic slur reflects need for real apology

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 17:25 PM.

Franklin County leadership punched itself in the face – twice -- this month when County Commission Chair Cheryl Sanders lobbed a callous and careless ethnic slur against Jews during a heated debate at the July 2nd meeting. A ridiculously weak apology this week has left a lingering bloody nose to public civility in the wake of such pathetic, but supposedly unintentional, hate mongering posing as leadership. How could it even happen today?

Sanders’ nonchalant nastiness was a sobering but stupefying moment that is forever on the record as a disgraceful piece of modern history for the community. It cannot be ignored. It must have a strong and direct response.

As the commission wrangled over how much to raise the salary of Howard Nabors, a longtime employee elevated to now head the road department, chair Sanders tried to cut through conversation about salaries of other department heads with this comment: “Today’s not the day to do it. We’re here (for Nabors’ salary), not to be up here jewing over somebody’s pay.”

What a stunning comment for anyone to make – let alone a public official in a public meeting. Even worse than the anti-Semitic remark by Sanders was the fact that no one challenged her about it. Not one of her peers on the commission called her on her language; not one member of the audience spoke up in protest; and not even this newspaper, The Apalachicola Times, which quoted the remark in a long story about the Nabors appointment, ever took Sanders to task for it, in news columns or editorially.

Under the best-case scenario – and that’s not a very good case -- Sanders may just be very ignorant. But that is hardly a good excuse for her words.

I spoke with chair Sanders on Monday, July 15, when - to her credit - she returned a phone call from me. When I told her use of the word “jewing” was offensive, she initially denied that she had said it. Instead, she offered, she had used the word “jawing.” That’s not true – and, later in the brief call, she acknowledged that she had, indeed, said “jewing” in reference to the salary discussion.

“It was a slang, not a slur,” Sanders told me.

1 2 3

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top