Recent blog post about Ira Hansen
An Open Letter to My Fellow Nevadans,
Recently, numerous allegations against my character have been made in the media. These allegations are based on small extracts from articles I wrote starting 20 years ago when I was a young opinion columnist for our local paper. Reviewing the statements now, many years after they were made, I freely admit my choice of words was at times very poor. As a columnist, I was encouraged to write provocatively but over the last 20 years I have learned that there is a line between being provocative and being offensive. There were times when I crossed that line. My intention was not to offend, and for any offense I have caused I again sincerely apologize.
Unless you know me personally, these snippets may be all you know about me. It saddens me to think that people may make such sweeping judgments about my character based on a few quotations. You may not agree with my politics but this is not just an attack on my politics, it is an attack on my personal character. Being called racist, sexist, and homophobic are not merely political accusations—they are personal. My intention with this response is to share more about myself in response to these allegations against my character.
Claim 1: Ira Hansen is a racist.
Ironically, the most quoted statement being used to label me a racist is taken from a column advocating educational reform for black children. I argued that inner-city black children are currently trapped in a cycle of poverty with little opportunity to escape. Furthermore, for my assistant campaign manager, I chose my personal friend Maurice Washington. Maurice is a brilliant African-American State Senator who honorably served the state of Nevada for 16 years. I have also proudly and publicly supported Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas, Ted Cruz, Allen Keyes and locally, Keith Primus along with other minority candidates. A family member of mine ran a non-profit orphanage in Africa in the past decade, and I personally provided financial support to the orphanage. I do not like sharing personal details like this, but in this setting, I feel it is appropriate that people see that actions speak louder than (old, written) words.
In addition, some have stated I am a neo-confederate because I owned a confederate flag. For some, that flag is a symbol of slavery and hatred; however, many people with Southern roots keep the confederate flag, not as a symbol of racism or hatred, but because it represents their Southern heritage. Country artist Brad Paisley recently wrote a song called "Accidental Racist" which describes how the flag is often mistaken as a symbol of hate and the song’s message sums up my feelings well. I have ancestors who fought on both sides in the Civil War. History is extremely important to me and cherishing the memories and lessons of the past are central tenets in my life philosophy. Slavery is totally repugnant to me, period. Morally and politically, in every respect, it offends my Christian convictions.
Speaking about racial issues can pose a major political risk because it can be used against you, but I have never been the type to avoid discussing important topics because they are politically unpopular. The bottom line is that I believe all people are equal in the eyes of God, the law, and should be treated with respect.
I am not a racist.
Claim 2: Ira Hansen is homophobic.
This is a very personal subject, because I have family members and friends who are gay. I have, in many ways, been humbled by this experience as I have come to know firsthand the types of challenges they have faced and are facing. I stand by my religious beliefs but their sexuality has never been- and never will be- a reason for me to reject them or anyone in the LGBT community. They have always been welcomed into our home and I was honored to receive their endorsement when I ran for office. My relationship with them represents my feelings well—we have different opinions on this sensitive matter, but I realize I don't have all the answers to life's complexities and it is most important that we respect one another. This attitude is not reserved for my family and friends alone, but for the entire LGBT community.
I am not homophobic.
Claim 3: Ira Hansen is a sexist.
If anyone has met the amazing women in my life they will quickly realize they are not under the thumb of a misogynist patriarch. My wife is my business partner (and much better at business than I), my mother is a professional educator, my eldest daughter will soon earn her master’s degree in psychology, my second daughter is a registered nurse and my youngest two girls plan to be a nurse and a veterinarian, respectively. I could not be more proud of these dynamic, free-thinking women in my life. Additionally, my campaign manager Diana Hoffman, is a skilled entrepreneur and attorney who is a trusted advisor and has become an addition to our family. Those who work with me know I respect and treat equally the women with whom I work. When these acusations began, even legislators on the other side of the aisle have publicly expressed the respect I have shown them. Yes, I believe in the traditional family, but like the majority of Americans who think as I do, we do not believe that constitutes "sexism".
I am not a sexist.
While the events of the past weeks have been personally trying, I find comfort in the adage that actions speak louder than words. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from those who know me personally. For those who do not know me personally, I hope you will not pass a character judgment on me for poorly worded statements written by a young opinion columnist over a decade ago. While some of my opinions are the same, many have evolved as life and experience has taught me. Those who know me recognize that my life and political career has been marked with an openness to hear all sides of an issue and a willingness to change when necessary (or when I am wrong). While my politics are fair game for criticism, this campaign has degenerated into vicious attacks on my character and even my family. I do not ask for you to agree with everything I believe, but I hope that you take time to examine all the facts before passing such sweeping judgments. Now, entering my third term in the Assembly, my track record shows I have worked diligently for the greater good of the state of Nevada and for my constituents of all backgrounds. I love Nevada and care deeply about the citizens of this great state. I will continue to do everything in my power to make Nevada a better place for everyone.