Montana's own human gaffe machine, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton continues to amaze us with his ability to say the wrong things on subjects that don't have anything to do with Montana, voting or business compliance.
The most recent chapter in an almost unending string of embarrassments comes courtesy of his newsletter in which Stapleton waxed philosophical on what he saw as the parallels between Israeli-Palestinian relations and Montana's Little Shell Chippewa tribe.
While it could be that Stapleton was straining to find a way to justify his junket to the Middle East, the secretary of state pondered: "Species, languages, races all adapt and assimilate or they fade away."
Stapleton continued the awkward comparison, saying that the Palestinians and the Little Shell were "dealing with the same thing! Kinda."
Kind of not, Secretary Stapleton.
To suggest that a tribe whose land has been taken should just assimilate or perish is not only heartless, it's the very antithesis of what America aspires to be — a melting pot of many cultures.
To brazenly suggest that cultures that are overpowered should just adapt (in other words accept their fate) or fade away seems to be suggesting the same kind of fate that awaited so many native cultures in the 18th, 19th and 20 centuries when tribes were forced to adapt to European culture or banished to barren lands to struggle and perish.
It is an insult to Montana and Israel that Stapleton could travel to Israel, itself a creation after unspeakable genocide, and then suggest that another culture should either adapt or perish. That was the same kind of logic that gave rise to Third Reich which endorsed wiping out an entire religion and cultures because they refused to adapt. Stapleton's words should find no corner of welcome in this country or abroad.
Stapleton owes the Little Shell an apology. It's another glaring example of how supremely unfit he is for elected office of any sort. Even more so when it comes to his ego-driven quest to replace Rep. Greg Gianforte in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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More than just an apology to the Little Shell, whose own struggles to get the recognition and land it deserves, Stapleton would do well to issue an apology to the citizens of Montana who must endure having a secretary of state who gives Montana a black eye every time he opens his mouth.
The situation in Israel-Palestine is complicated by centuries of history, and continued armed conflict between the two sides. Thankfully, Montana does not know that kind of violence or bloodshed. Stapleton's grasp of history is shallow and his comparisons demean the Israel-Palestine conflict and do nothing to advance the Chippewa history of Montana.
Montanans should also be wary of Stapleton's most recent junket. We should at least be grateful that he was traveling on some other group's dime, instead of using thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money like he's done previously.
But, Stapleton has no official business traveling to Israel. There is hardly nothing that he — or nine fellow secretaries of state — needed to learn by letting some outside group pay for a pleasure trip under the guise of business.
We should demand that Stapleton get back to business, which includes trying to modernize a voting system that will ensure Montana's election integrity in 2020 and beyond. Residents will recall that Stapleton rushed into a contract with a software company to provide election safeguards by 2020, only to have the company be unable to meet the deadlines. Ultimately, the new election system will not be ready until after 2020. Instead of tackling issues like this, Stapleton would rather pontificate about Israel and travel thousands of miles away rather than deal with the issues and we elected him to solve.
We continue to question whether it's proper to have the secretary of state put out a newsletter full of rambling opinions as part of state government.
A newsletter full of updates on voting or business registration? Sure.
But an electronic soapbox promoting Corey Stapleton's own fragile grip of world history? Now there's something that could perish.