Poor Jim Lucas.
The Republican Indiana representative from Seymour who just loves, loves, loves guns and racially charged memes is in the middle of another controversy.
This latest dust-up is a particularly Lucas-like tragic farce. It’s filled with alt-right half-truths and outright whoppers and ends with Lucas, as usual, feeling sorry for himself.
It began, as so often has been the case for Lucas, on social media.
A Black surgeon from Houston named James Carson wrote on Lucas’s Facebook page about the Constitution. He took issue with some of the lawmaker’s views and noted that the Constitution Lucas lauds in its original form condoned slavery and denied Black people their rights.
Lucas responded by claiming the first slaveowner in America was black.
He followed that by later asking Carson:
“Did you get any scholarships or financial assistance because of your skin color? Any minority scholarships?”
Before long, Carson threw up his hands and disengaged from the conversation, but not before calling Lucas racist.
The Indianapolis Star did a story on the incident.
Lucas labeled the story a “race baiting hit piece.”
That is vintage Lucas.
He routinely calls people who disagree with him “evil” and “dishonest,” but let anyone cast so much as a sideways glance in his direction and he goes off like a Roman candle.
No matter the dispute or context, in his eyes, Lucas is never wrong.
He’s also always the victim.
The world he moves in is like a funhouse mirror. Much of what he sees and believes is warped, distorted or just plain fiction.
Take the “fact” about the first slave owner in America being Black.
Anthony Johnson—presumably, the historical figure to whom Lucas referred—was Black and a slaveowner. Johnson was the first slaveowner to go to court here to assert the “right” to own another human being.
This was in the 1600s, more than a century before the Revolutionary War began when America was a collection of British colonies. It’s not likely Johnson was the first American slave owner—nor does it override the fact that, by the time the Constitution Lucas claims to venerate was adopted, slavery was a white supremacist institution.
But it does suggest this country’s history with race is both more complex and more tragic than Lucas’s self-justifying bluster would acknowledge.
The same goes for his take on affirmative action.
In Lucas-world, any attempts to redress America’s historic racial injustices are just reverse discrimination, a case of two wrongs attempting to make a right.
His misunderstanding of reality is entirely Lucas-like.
Once, in the middle of a radio discussion about gun policy I moderated, he told a legal scholar not to “Scalia” him. Lucas meant he didn’t want to hear references to statements from the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—who generally supported gun owners’ rights—that guns could be regulated.
Lucas is an absolutist when it comes to guns.
He didn’t want to hear any fact contradicting his fantasy.
Something similar seems to be going on with his views on affirmative action.
The courts have ruled any race-based discrimination that determines an outcome—getting into a college or securing a job—is illegal.
What is legal—and encouraged—is casting a wide net to make sure the best applicants, regardless of race, gender or ethnic background, find their way into it.
In addition to being good law, that also just makes good business sense.
But that reality makes it harder for guys like Lucas to feel aggrieved, so they conjure up some strange fantasy to contend with instead.
There are scholarships to support racial minorities—just as there are to help veterans, people from specific towns or those who have specific skills or interests. They often are privately funded.
This is all part of living in a big and complicated nation made up of more than 330 million people with varied backgrounds, interests and points of view. It’s a task that requires quite a bit of balancing—a lot of give and take—if it’s going to work.
But that’s not the way Jim Lucas sees it.
He prefers to live in a fantasy world in which everything is a conspiracy to oppress folks like him.
That he seems to think that way isn’t evil or even dishonest.
It’s just sad.
Poor Jim Lucas.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.