Americorps @ the hull house,” by Ansy Dupiton

January 18, 2018; Washington Post

Most of us know the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as one of the federal agencies that works most closely with nonprofits, since it is responsible for running programs that promote civic life and volunteerism, like AmeriCorps. As CNCS says on its website, through its core programs—AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Social Innovation Fund—CNCS helps millions of individuals “meet local needs through a wide array of service opportunities in six priority areas: disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families.”

In other words, the agency has historically sought to draw people together to create a stronger community. But, as with most things, this new administration has brought a bit of change. For the last six months, Carl Higbie has served as chief of external affairs for the Corporation for National and Community Service—that is, until CNN surfaced a series of bigoted and prejudiced statements he made to conservative talk shows over the past five years.

As per his statements, although Higbie doesn’t like Muslims “because their ideology sucks,” when called out for Islamophobia, he said, “I was like, ‘no, no, no, no, no, I’m not afraid of them. I don’t like them. Big difference. I just don’t like Muslim people.” Call him a racist, though, and he’ll cop to it. “People always rip me a new one for that. ‘Carl, you’re racist, you can’t, you’re sexist.’ I’m like, Jesus Christ. I was called an Islamophobe, and…they were like, ‘Well, you’re racist.’ I was like, fine if that’s the definition of it, then I guess I am.”

This jibes with some of the things he’s said about Black people. According to statements sourced by CNN, Higbie has called Black people “lax of morality,” said Black women think “breeding is a form of government employment,” and accused Black culture of encouraging “the high percentage of people on welfare in the black race.” Moreover, “The whole African American thing gets me whipped up because it’s like, 99 percent—and I’m paraphrasing here—of people who write down ‘African American’ have never been to Africa.”

On Fox News, he positively cited Japanese internment camps during World War II as a “precedent” for some of the president’s plans for immigrants, has suggested that citizens who own guns should be allowed to just shoot border crossers, and he has accused military veterans with PTSD of faking it: “I’d say 75 percent of people with PTSD don’t actually have it, and they’re either milking something for a little extra money in disability or they’re just, they honestly are just lying.”

He keeps going,

What’s so wrong with wanting to put up a fence and saying, “Hey, everybody with a gun, if you want to go shoot people coming across our border illegally, you can do it fo’ free.”…You cross my border, I will shoot you in the face. I will go down there. I’ll volunteer to go down there and stand on that border for, I don’t know, a week or so at a time, and that’ll be my civil duty.

To cap off this tirade, on the subject of Rhode Island’s legalizing gay marriage, he said, “Congratu-f’in’-lations, you suck, Rhode Island. Why would you do that? I mean, you are breaking the morals, the moral fiber of our country. You know, I don’t like gay people. I just don’t.”

Again, Higbie has now resigned, and we have to thank the press, specifically CNN, for doing this exhausting work. For the flip side of CNCS, check out today’s feature interview.—Ruth McCambridge