Tolbert: Another Forwarded Rutledge Email (UPDATED)

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 246 views 

The stories on Leslie Rutledge continue to trickle. It seems like someone is hoping to hurt her campaign with a death by a thousand cuts. But as with the previous stories on her, today’s news is another one with a big build-up followed by very little payoff.

It broke today on Matt Campbell’s Blue Hog Report with the promise of an obtained email from Rutledge that he says is “written in an overtly racist patois.” You can read the email and his take over on his blog.

The Rutledge campaign confirms to me what I suspected when I first saw the story – this is yet another example of an email forward that is being attributed to Rutledge instead of the actual writer. The AP notoriously bit on one of these email forwards a few weeks back.

“This is just another desperate attempt by leftist bloggers to attempt to misattribute someone else’s words to me. As was obvious from reading the email, I simply forwarded without any comment something written by Judith (Gardner). Any questions about the content of the email should be directed to the author. These same liberal bloggers have attempted to paint me as, among other things, secretly pro-choice, not eligible to vote in Arkansas and now a racist. I would expect these kinds of silly attacks to continue from the Democrats desperate to hold onto this seat,” said Rutledge in statement to The Tolbert Report. “In spite of these baseless attacks, I remain focused on my message of protecting Arkansans from those who seek to do them harm.”

As I have demonstrated here and here, these little shots on Rutledge are trickling out from Democratic operatives. So far Nate Steel has stayed out of any direct involvement. But it is about time for Steel to either own this continuous drip of oppo or distance himself from it and call off the dogs.

Either way, it is getting old.

UPDATE – Judith Gardner, author of the email in question, just sent me this statement.  Here it is…

Here is a statement confirming that I am the author of the email entitled, “Prayer for Miz Judith.”  I hope it helps to clear up any misunderstandings and misperceptions.

I, Judith Gardner, am the author of the email entitled “Prayer for Miz Judith,” not Leslie Rutledge.

Anybody who infers that this story is racist is on shaky ground.  Nowhere does it describe the individual’s ethnicity or identity.  Any implication of racism comes not from the story but from the reader’s unfamiliarity with literary technique, as I explain in the following paragraph.

In 2005, I moved to Arkansas from California and immediately fell in love with Arkansans and southerners in general.  I started to write about all the people and experiences I’ve had acclimating to southern culture.  I have read three of my stories on Tales from the South, the popular NPR radio show, that reflect how the southern soul imprinted itself on me and changed my life. (Google YouTube Tales from the South Judith Gardner). In each of these stories, I use the southern vernacular as a literary device to more deeply capture the nature of the characters. “Miz Judith” is a true story that was one of the most spiritually powerful, humbling experiences of my life.  Never intended as a literary work, and not one of the NPR selections,  I simply sent it out to all my friends to share with them God’s love, power and grace that these people brought to me.

A lifelong democrat, my first experience with civil rights came when I was four-years-old.  My parents were approached one day by neighbors who were seeking signatures on a petition to prevent a Japanese family from buying the house across the street from us.  These neighbors cloaked their post-war hatred of the Japanese under the guise of protecting their property values.  My father told them that he wouldn’t sign it because his “principles are more important than my property values.”  The prospective buyer was an American-born man of Japanese descent who was one of the soldiers in the United States Army Nisei special battalion—the most valorous and highly decorated battalion in the entire European Theater. Even if he hadn’t been a hero, he was a U.S. citizen with the same rights as any of us.  The Associated Press picked up the story and it went worldwide. My parents received letters from around the globe, lauding them on their courageous stand.

My brother and I were ostracized by the entire neighborhood and although my parents could ill-afford it at the time, they put me in private nursery school to protect me from their poison.

I knew, even then, I would always fight for justice and equality.

I started working for civil rights as a teenager, participating in everything from freedom marches to demonstrations in the Delano fields with Cesar Chavez, and continued to dedicate my life to advancing the candidates and causes of the democratic party. Since that time, I contributed endless hours and dollars to democratic candidates whom I believed were aligned with the egalitarian ideals of the democratic party.  I was as staffer on the 2006 Beebe campaign, an officer with Pulaski County Democratic Women, a member of the National Federation of Democratic Women, am currently an active member of Pulaski County Democratic Committee, and have hosted and contributed to countless democratic candidate fundraising campaigns.

Leslie Rutledge was one of the first people who embraced and welcomed me into a diverse circle of wonderful Arkansas friends.  We have spent many hours in prayer and fellowship together.  Although our political views differ on many fronts, I have always found her to be a woman of courage, loyalty, and a brilliant creative mind who can cut through deception faster and more precisely than anyone I know.

I am now calling upon God’s guidance for the same grace and justice that the people in the story of Miz Judith gave me and pray that this same spirit of healing will touch everyone who has been affected by these horrible misinterpretations of each others’ motives.