Colorado District 60 Representative Ron Hanks put his foot — or at least his mouth — into a comment on the floor of the Colorado State House on Thursday, in a gaffe apparent to many of those listening to him. But he appears to remain blissfully unaware that many would see his words as racist bigotry.
The statement was immediately pointed out by the Colorado Democratic Party, which put out a statement saying they condemned “the disgusting” comments and called on the state GOP and House GOP leadership to join them in condemning his comments.
During a debate of a bipartisan bill to strengthen civics education in Colorado public schools, Republican State Representative Hanks made a flippant comment when he was mis-introduced, saying “Being called Mr. Lynch might be a good thing for what I’m about to say. No, just kidding.”
Then he went on to reference the practice employed by several slave-owning states prior to the Civil War; of valuing each Black person as worth three/fifths of each white resident of the state, saying:
“Going back to the founding, and going back to the 3/5ths, and I heard the comments and I appreciate them, and I respect them, But the 3/5ths compromise, of course, was an effort by non-slave states to not, to try to reduce the amount of representation that the slave states had. It was not impugning anybody’s humanity. It was an effort to, uh…”(inaudible comment).
Then he continued: “Well, it’s important to say. We had this conversation on one side, let’s talk about it on the other. Is this really racist to be talking about what the 3/5ths compromise was? I don’t think so, and I think it’s important. It’s part of the civics lesson here. It was brought up, and it merits discussion. That was an effort by the North to try to keep the South from having too much representation and push slavery beyond, and ultimately it worked out. It took a war to do it. It took 600,000 American lives. It took a lot of treasure. That’s the kind of thing that ought to be taught.“
The Colorado Democratic Party released the following statements by Shenika Carter, Chair of the African Diaspora Initiative of the Colorado Democratic Party:
“To call the comments made by Mr. Hanks today disgusting and ignorant would be a gross understatement. For him to downplay the indisputable, historical fact that enslaved Black people were treated less a person’s worth both in law and in practice is offensive and beneath the dignity of our state legislature. Mr. Hanks needs to apologize immediately, and he needs to educate himself before he makes ignorant comments with such recklessness in the future.”
This is not the first time that Hanks has gotten into hot water related to his views. A ruckus he created on the floor of the House even before he was sworn in earned reprimands from the man he replaced: term-limited and popular Jim Wilson, who gained a reputation as a statesman during his time in the Colorado Statehouse.
Then Hanks proudly announced that he had taken part in the January 6th insurrectionist mob at the U.S. Capitol, changing his story a few times about whether he was inside the Capitol or not.
But Hanks did not leave it at that. Just prior to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration, Hanks sent out a fundraising email claiming that the mob was the work of “antifa” and that “foreign intelligence agencies” may prevent Biden and Harris from being sworn in.