Judge Caught Sending Racist Obama Email Has Infuriating Response

judge richard cebullThis is one of those stories that makes you facepalm at the sheer stupidity of it all: A federal judge in Montana is in hot water for forwarding a racially charged email about President Obama to his friends from his work address. The email was intercepted by a local newspaper, and now Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, is having to answer some tough questions.

Unfortunately, Cebull's responses are almost as disturbing as the initial email. True, he's apologized and acknowledged that the content of the email was racist; but he's pretty adamant that he himself is definitely not racist. He's just not a fan of our Commander in Chief.

Really? I thought this guy was supposed to be a JUDGE. How can he get away with putting on such a weak defense?


The subject line of the offending email Cebull sent to his "old buddies" (his description) was, "A Mom's Memory." Here's what it said:

Normally I don't send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.

A little boy said to his mother; "Mommy, how come I'm black and you're white?" His mother replied, "Don't even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you're lucky you don't bark!"

So, basically, it's making fun of the president's mixed racial ancestry and equates African Americans with dogs -- glad we can all agree that the email is blatantly racist. Here's the thing, though. Every single one of us has sent/forwarded an email we wish we hadn't. Maybe it wasn't racist per se, but perhaps it made fun of someone or some group of people. What makes this situation particularly troubling is that this federal judge sent such an email from his work account during work hours. And this is a guy who is supposed to keep his personal bias to a minimum in his job!

What makes it even worse is Cebull's rather simpleton denial of being racist or of "ever demonstrating racism." As hard as it may be to admit, we all have some racism in us. Maybe it's only a tiny bit deep down, maybe it's larger and on the surface. But we all have been subjected to the same stereotypes and misinformation about race, and, though we can educate ourselves about these issues, there's no way we can fully escape it. The only thing we can do is acknowledge it and try to be better.

That Cebull is refusing to acknowledge it at all makes me wonder if he really understands these issues and how personal biases deep down can sometimes rear their ugly heads even when we don't want them to. At the end of the day, the fact remains that he thought an email about blacks and bestiality was so funny he wanted to share it with his friends. What does that mean about how he views black people? (And there are better ways to criticize the president than making fun of his race, so I'm not buying that excuse.)

We deserve more self-awareness and thoughtfulness from the people who make decisions that affect people's lives on a daily basis. I'll be interested to see how long this guy stays in his job.

Do you think the email was racist?


Image via United States District Court District of Montana

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