Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said striking teachers were to blame if children were harmed and then accused critics of 'misunderstanding' what he was really trying to say.
Kentucky’s far-right Republican governor, Matt Bevin, unleashed a despicable attack on striking teachers last week, but his so-called “apology” only makes it worse.
“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin said Friday, blaming teachers on strike for any harm that befalls children during the strike.
The reaction to Bevin’s outrageous claims was swift and widespread, including from members of his own party.
So on Sunday, the governor released a video to try to mitigate the damage. But his supposed “apology” mostly blamed his critics for failing to understand his message about “the unintended consequences of schools being shut down” and said the condemnation of his comments was mostly a “misunderstanding” of what he was trying to say.
“For those of you who understood what I’m saying, thank you,” Bevin said. “I appreciate that you do. But clearly a tremendous number of people did not fully appreciate what it was that I was communicating or what it was that I was trying to say, and I hurt a lot of people. Many people have been confused or hurt or just misunderstand what it was that I was trying to communicate. That’s my responsibility.”
Bevin never apologized directly to the teachers he had so blatantly insulted. Instead, he offered his apology to “to those who have been hurt by the things that were said.”
Bevin’s remarks might have been more believable if he hadn’t been attacking teachers since the beginning of their strike.
But before he claimed he was merely concerned about the children, he was lashing out at the teachers the Kentucky Education Association representing them.
“They’re phonies,” he said in an interview last Tuesday. “They’re not even sincere.”
Bevin’s escalation of his attacks on teachers Friday was a continuation of his ugly rhetoric that had nothing to do with kids. His belated apology Sunday night was a clear attempt to stop the condemnation coming from even members of his own party.
Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, said he was “troubled, frustrated and disappointed by the Governor’s comments last night about teachers.”
The governor “needlessly and unjustly demoniz[ed]” teachers, Westerfield added, who “peacefully” engaged with legislators in the state capitol.
Bevin’s problem isn’t that the people of his state misunderstood his message. It’s that they understood all too well.