The Slatest

Arizona State Politician Re-elected Despite History of Racist Remarks Under Pressure to Resign After Newest Racist Remarks

A sign saying “stop hate” can be seen in front of a capitol building at night
Arizona’s state Capitol building in Phoenix.
John Moore/Getty Images

An Arizona state politician recently re-elected to office despite a history of racist remarks is once again fending off calls from his own party to resign after audio recordings surfaced of him telling students that black immigrants are more of a burden on society than white immigrants because “they don’t blend in. They always look different.”

Republican state Rep. David Stringer, who made the remarks last month to a group of Arizona State University students quietly recording him after a lecture, told the students that “racial tension” and multiculturalism made institutions like the military and the education system weaker and that immigration should be capped to “create more opportunity for assimilation, so it’s not too much too fast.” According to the Prescott eNews, an online publication whose parent company he co-owns, he went on to bemoan what he believed to be new trends:

David Stringer: Also, diversity in our country is relatively new.

Unknown Student: What do you mean? Irish and Italian—my great-grandfather …

David Stringer: They were all Europeans. By the second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same, but that’s not the case with African Americans or other racial groups because they don’t melt in. They don’t blend in. They always look different.

Unknown Student: Why does looking different matter?

David Stringer: I don’t know. And maybe it doesn’t. It doesn’t to you. Maybe it doesn’t to a lot of people. But it seems to matter to a lot of people who move out of Detroit, who move out of Baltimore—you know, we have white flight in this country.

When a student challenged Stringer’s beliefs that Hispanic immigrants were different than the student’s Polish immigrant ancestor, Stringer replied, “[T]he difference between the Polish-American immigrant and the immigrant from say, Somalia, is that the second-generation Polish immigrant looks like the Irish kid and the German kid and every other kid. But the immigrant from Somalia does not.”

Since the comments were published by the Phoenix New Times last week, he has faced a number of calls for his resignation, including in a resolution from the Prescott City Council condemning his “abhorrent words.”

On Thursday night, at a town council meeting, he defied the calls and announced he would not step down, saying, “I believe that everything I’ve said—if you look at what I actually said—is defensible, that it is truthful, that it is factually accurate, that it can be supported by academic research.” He added: “I am not going to disenfranchise the thousands and thousands of people who just returned me to office a month ago.”

Stringer has also been banned from the Humboldt Unified School District, which includes 5,700 students in rural Yavapai County—the largest school district in the community he represents. “Viewed in the best light, these comments can be understood as incredibly insensitive, but a plain reading reveals blatant racism,” the school superintendent wrote Wednesday in a letter to parents and faculty to announce Stringer would not be welcome at the schools or school-related events.

But Stringer has a history of saying equally offensive things about immigrants and minorities. In June, he was seen on a video at a Republican men’s forum saying “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” in Arizona public schools and that “immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States.” After those comments, Gov. Doug Ducey and the chair of the Republican party in Arizona called for his resignation, but Stringer refused. He was re-elected in November.

In 2016, when he was a candidate, he theorized at a public forum that immigration would “result in some kind of civil disorder and a dissolution of the United States as we know it.” Then, in October 2017, he expanded upon those beliefs in an editorial for the Prescott eNews praising President Trump for being “the first President in modern history to defy the racial pieties of the mainstream media and live to talk about it:”

Over the last half century the United States has been transformed from a nation predominantly peopled by those of European ancestry into a true multiracial society where White people are becoming a minority. …

The cultural implications of this rapid transformation are only beginning to be felt. We see it in our popular culture in everything from entertainment, sports and music, to changing school demographics and public safety. We see it in the media with the savage negativity toward President Trump and the White voters who elected him.

Cultural and ethnic transformation is nothing new in the history of nations. Many lands have changed hands or seen their borders redrawn. But the displacement or dispossession of a people from their homeland typically occurs thru military conquest. The United States may be the first nation in history to voluntarily surrender its traditional culture and national identity to other peoples. We are only beginning to experience the consequences.

The opinions, which Stringer has defended as “philosophical debate” and “valid questions,” smack of the fearmongering and rallying cries of self-identifying white nationalists, many of whom speak about shifting demographics as if they are a “white genocide.”

Republican leaders in Arizona have renewed their calls for Stringer to resign, while the local branch of the NAACP has called for a boycott of the city of Prescott, where Stringer lives, until the lawmaker resigns.