Nevada’s Mouth-Runnin’ Rebel

When Nevada’s newly ascendent House Republicans decided to lift Ira Hansen to the speakership of their chamber, they clearly hadn’t gotten the memo on how Republicans are trying real hard not to project an image as troglodytes. Hansen, it seems, has said a lot of really crazy and offensive things right out loud via 13 years of op-eds in his local paper (running at least up until 2007, which isn’t a long time ago).

You can follow the link and sample some of Hansen’s sexist, racist and homophobic ravings over the years, but here’s the thing that grabbed me:

Hansen has said he keeps a Confederate battle flag on the wall where he writes his columns. “I fly it proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause,” he wrote.

That helps explain his resentment of African-Americans:

He wrote that African-Americans are insufficiently grateful for being given their freedom: “The lack of gratitude and the deliberate ignoring of white history in relation to eliminating slavery is a disgrace that Negro leaders should own up to.”

Now regular readers know that nothing gets me going quite like neo-Confederate sentiments, particularly when (as with this bird and with former Sen. George Allen) it involves enthusiasts for the Lost Cause who did not grow up in its stomping grounds (Hansen was born in Reno; Allen used to tool around Los Angeles with confederate flag plates on his sports car).

But as Matt Ford points out at the Atlantic today, Hansen’s really lucky his rebel yells weren’t emitted a little closer to the event:

In 1864, a Nevadan man went on trial for murdering a Confederate sympathizer in public. “I want him convicted, and before I resign … I mean to pardon him,” proclaimed James Nye, the outgoing territorial governor, who would soon become the new state’s second U.S. senator. “If it be meritorious to shoot a traitor in South Carolina, it cannot be unpardonable to shoot one in Nevada.”

Hansen should probably find himself another line of work.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.