A youthful, Republican political star seems to be in the making: Massachusetts State Representative Ryan Fattman. Yesterday, Mr. Fattman was part of a debate with Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Local news outlets are hailing Ryan Fattman as a young, Republican hopeful with a future in national American politics. Quoted by The Milford Daily News, he said in the debate: “Being a Republican in Massachusetts isn’t always that easy, as I’m learning in the Legislature… We need you to help us fight the fight.”
And what fight would that be? A fight that involves fear and injustice for rape victims. Especially if the victims in question are among the most vulnerable: undocumented immigrants. Because, as Change.org News reports:
Massachusetts State Rep. Ryan Fattman believes that rape and abuse survivors ought to be afraid to report their assault, assuming they are undocumented.
“My thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward.”
Tim Murphy, reporting for Mother Jones, contacted Mr. Fattman for clarification, and at first, he said his statement was taken out of context. But then, when he sought to clarify he added:
According to Fattman, the Telegram quote ignores some key context: “If someone got into a car accident, it’s obviously a tragic event. But if they’re drunk and they crash, it’s a crime,” he explained. “If that person was drunk and survived the accident they would be afraid to come forward. I think if someone is here illegally they should be afraid to come forward because they should be afraid to be deported.”
I asked him he thought that analogy really held weight. After all, if you drink and crash a car, that’s your fault; if you’re undocumented and get beaten up or raped, it’s absolutely not.
“But if you weren’t here, the crime wouldn’t happen,” Fattman says, reiterating that by virtue of being in the country without the requisite paperwork, undocumented residents are committing a crime.
Yes, rape survivors are the same as drunk drivers. Moreover, killing someone while driving under the influence is equated to an administrative violation (because that’s the extent of the “crime” committed by an undocumented immigrant). No mention of the vulnerability of these immigrants and how they are already targeted for abuse and systematic violations of their rights.
When asked what should happen to these illegal immigrant reporting a rape if they do come forward, should they perhaps be arrested? he shared more of his compassionate views:
I think it’s up to the discretion of the police. I have a lot of friends who are police officers and I have a lot of police officers in my district and I trust their discretion.
However, Mr. Fattman’s forays into misogynist politics are not new as he is also a co-sponsor of Bill H01333 to limit partial birth abortions. So far, Massachusetts’ Republican Party has not issued an apology or a reprimand, even though there are calls for his resignation and a petition for a formal apology by New Hope, an organization whose mission is to end domestic and sexual violence in Massachusetts. And you know, considering none of the big Republican names that participated in the debate yesterday thought to distance themselves from his offensive statements, something tells me that Fattman’s career in politics might be a long and prosperous one. A career built on rape culture and the violated bodies of immigrant women, too afraid to report the crime and too alone to seek justice.