Senator Corker tells me: “If you don’t like it, leave”

Who should come walking the other way down the trail over the weekend but our very own GOP senator, Bob Corker? I greeted him then told him how deeply ashamed I was to be from a state where our senator will not denounce Trump for boasting of sexual assault. Corker has been silent on this matter and on the racism and hate that the T-monster has spewed into our country these last months (judge for yourself: see addenda below for links to his statements). I told him that as a Tennessean I was deeply ashamed of his silence.

Corker’s response? “If you don’t like it, then you should leave the state.”

He then turned the conversation to attack me: “It’s people like you who won’t accept the results of the election who are deeply dividing this country.” “What have you ever done to contribute to this state?” Well, I did not say that I disputed the election, merely that I was ashamed of my senator. And my contributions? Modest, for sure, but irrelevant to the question: “Why have you not, Senator Corker, denounced Trumps’ boasts of sexual assault?” Or any other of Trump’s outrages?

He responded only with attacks on my character and complaints about the uncivil way that I was disrupting his restful Sunday walk “in nature.” Then he repeated his charge to me: “If you don’t like it, leave.”

No, Senator, if you don’t like your constituents using their First Amendment rights to express their deep dismay and disgust at your failure to take a stand against odious statements, then maybe you’re the one who needs to book the U-Haul van. Pack your bags and leave Washington. Take your silence in the face of Trump’s vile words back to your Chattanooga mansion and ponder why a group of hikers — immigrants, women, LGBTQ, and Latinos — would be so distraught to see your smirking countenance sauntering through the woods.

Yes, we are ashamed of you. No, we are not leaving.

Update 7 hours after original post:

I just got a call from a newspaper reporter who told me that Senator Corker’s office claims that I said I was ashamed to be from a state that voted for Trump. This is absolutely untrue. I said I was ashamed that Senator Corker had stood by Trump through all of Trump’s vile pronouncements. Ashamed of Corker: yes. I said nothing about the votes of my fellow Tennesseans. Corker’s also claimed that I was profane and aggressive. I’m afraid my profanity was no match for that of Mr Trump and I showed no aggression. Anger, for sure, but I stood at a respectful distance and listened to Corker. First Amendment speech is not aggression, it’s a right. Grabbing women, punishing them for abortions, egging on rallies toward violence: now that’s aggression.

Addenda added after post was first published:

Three witnesses can vouch what what Senator Corker said to me.

“Anonymous” comment in the comment section is coming from U.S. House of Representatives IP address Evidently some in Washington think that it is OK to use government network addresses to make anonymous comments on blogs.

Nashville Scene coverage here. Chattanooga Times here. Tennessean here.

Corker’s official website (search for Trump”).  Refusal to withdraw endorsement here. Calls Trump’s foreign policy “very thoughtful.” Corker campaigns with Trump in NC. Comparison of Corker to other Republicans on Trump.

56 thoughts on “Senator Corker tells me: “If you don’t like it, leave”

  1. Paula Rabkin

    We don’t need dung balls like that in our forests! (Or our Capitol.) So glad you took him to task for not speaking out against the candidate’s odious remarks.

  2. Kelly Blake

    Corker thinks that he is short listed for Sec of State. If that’s his idea of statesman-like behavior we are in for a very difficult time! What a disaster!

  3. Kate Karakassis

    Thank you for calling him out. Politicians that can’t accept criticism are in the wrong business.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. vsjs

    I admire your courage for engaging Senator Corker and agree with your views. I think everyone who cares about defending the rights of all Americans and protecting the environment (another topic you write so eloquently about) will be challenged to engage and take action, whenever possible, after Trump takes office.

  5. G. R. Renshaw

    For the past 8 years, the GOP has not only tolerated, but endorsed Mitch McConnell’s divisive goal of focusing, in 2008, on “making Obama a one-term president,” rhetoric like Rush Limbaugh’s (“I hope he fails”), tactics such as refusing to pay our national debt or federal employees, the birthers (including Trump) who lied about President Obama’s citizenship, a flat refusal to even consider a SCOTUS nominee, a purely political refusal to work with Democrats to improve the Affordable Care Act (because then it might have been more successful and an accomplishment would have accrued to the Obama administration), vile insults at Michelle Obama (calling her a “baby momma,” among other names) when the Obamas have managed their role of first couple with class and grace, and that doesn’t address the Nazi-ish “Killery” or “Lock her up” chants (in America, we don’t usually jail the other party candidate, right?).

    And now, they’re saying “we need to come together.” Or, apparently, leave.

    I earnestly hope Democrats behave better than the GOP did, for the sake of the country. I hope we are all better than Sen. Corker in inviting people to put up and shut up or leave.

    But let’s be clear: the GOP set an extremely low standard for “better behavior.”

    And “behaving better” doesn’t mean endorsing or not working against policies we believe are not in our country’s best interest going forward.

    David, let us know if you are involved in any environmental initiatives. My understanding is that Trump is proposing a climate-change denier as EPA chief.

  6. St Brigid Press

    Stunning, angering, and sad. So sorry you had to take the brunt of this brute’s behavior. It seems clear that Corker and his colleagues have completely lost the concept of a REPRESENTATIVE democracy. Instead, he and they represent hate, power, and self-interest.

  7. Wendy Jacobs

    Thank you David! Many of us are going to have to learn how to lean in to get through this Trumpean disaster, and the hardest leaning in is done by those who directly and peacefully challenge the Trumpkins. Please continue to set a good example for us and speak for us and the other living creatures! I am planting more trees and cutting invasive vines to stay busy!

  8. Paul Kvinta

    Gee David, why haven’t you done more for Tennessee? Why have you frittered away your life? People would take you more seriously if you would DO something. ;)

  9. Ralph

    If Sen. Corker and others would take a moment and insert their wives and daughters, mothers and sisters into the many disgusting and vile comments made by the President-elect (a civil servant) perhaps they would speak out against such deplorable comments. How he (Mr. Corker) can defend such behavior (and remaining silent is defending it) is unthinkable. If he and others really are OK with exercising fear and abuse over others, verbally or otherwise, then a fundamental decency in fatherhood, husbandhood, and basic human respect has been lost. Not to mention trust and faith in a high ranking PUBLIC servant.
    It was a fair and basic question David and I can only speculate as to why he chose a cowardly road of attack. Thank you for sharing your experience and I hope we will all continue to confront our concerns in a firm yet respectful manner as you did.

  10. Anonymous

    I think this is completely fabricated, as I know the senator and his family. Sounds like some crap show, big wash, dribble made to fuel the liberal shit show.

    1. Anonymous

      I totally agree with you Anonymous. I have known him most of our life and have worked for him for years. A bunch of poor losers. They need to get over it……we didn’t act like this when Obama won.

      1. Katherine

        Who was it in 2008 that vehemently promised to make the newly-elected President of the USA “fail”?

      2. David George Haskell Post author

        Ah, the Anonymous comments. Three witnesses — all well-respected professionals — refute your denial of Corker’s words. And I see that you use his same tactic: attack us as “poor losers.” I say nothing about losing. Just that Corker has said not a thing against the foul words from Trump. I expect better from Corker — yes, many of us know him from his time in Chattanooga and remember a man who, I hope, would not have remained silent in such a situation. Times change.

      3. Katz

        Anonymous, you have conveniently forgotten:

        – Mitch McConnell’s statement that making Obama a 1-term president was the GOP’s sole goal
        – The birthers, which Trump participated in
        – Rush Limbaugh bellowing “I hope he fails!”
        – The false accusations that, because Obama’s middle name is “Hussein,” he’s Muslim
        – The total failure of the GOP to work with Obama on anything
        – The GOP’s refusal to pay the nation’s bills
        – The GOP’s shutting down of the government
        – The country paying thousands of federal workers on furlough because the government was shut down, but we still (rightly) owed them their salaries
        – John Boehner finally throwing his hands up and quitting
        – The racist rhetoric that reached the point some of us feared obama would be assassinated before he completed his first term
        – Michelle Obama being called a “baby momma”
        – Etc etc etc

        The GOP has set the bar really low for civil behavior. Many of us are disappointed that a man who knows nothing about policy has been elected our president for the very reason that he doesn’t know how to run a government. We wonder who will fill that void, since someone must run the government. Before this occurred, I though Corker might be one of the decent, capable conservatives. Now I’m concerned that he’s one of the many who will bend however they need to, including ways that will really hurt our country, to keep Trump and his party in power.

        Party over country isn’t a good goal. At this point, it appears our best option is to batten down the hatches, do what we can locally, and wait this out–or step in when things blow up. I hope that’s not literal.

    2. David George Haskell Post author

      “Anonymous” is IP address, Bradley County, TN.
      Welcome to the discussion. I have better uses of my time to make up things about the GOP…who needs to try these days? Just reporting what I was told by Senator Corker.

    3. Lou Ann Browm

      You’ve GOT to be kidding. I know him too. Even held a high ticket fundraiser for him in my home in Nashville. When Bob Corker failed to denounce Trump, I wrote him off forever. I am ashamed of him. Failing to speak out against bigotry and hate makes him a party to bigotry and hate.

  11. Randy Horick

    Thank you, Professor Haskell, for speaking up to Corker’s face, and thank you for expressing what you have written here. He and Lamar ought to be deeply ashamed, but they are no longer capable of that. All they see is opportunity for personal power.

    I only wish that I could have been with you on the trail. I’ve lived in Tennessee for 36 years, and I’m a foot taller than Bob Corker. I’d have liked to hear him tell me to my face (or, more accurately, look up toward my face) and tell me to get out of his state.

  12. Katherine

    Thank you for this post, David. I emailed Corker a couple of months ago to say it was shameful that he was endorsing a demagogue like Trump who relies on transparent (Hitlerian) propaganda techniques (big lies, fear-mongering, name-calling, bandwagon effect, blood libel, etc.) to mislead voters. I received no response to my email. His response to you is appalling, and confirms that we are in for dangerous times.

  13. Robert W Smith

    I used to tell my staff that if they were personally attacked while testifying in court, celebrate. It meant they were winning on the merits. That’s small consolation at this point. But it is what underlay the politics of personal destruction. They needed tactics like that, because they can’t win on the facts and merits of their policy. Small consolation indeed when they have dragged themselves and us to hell.

  14. dtapley

    Well said. Even here in very blue Massachusetts, the snark and venom from the Trump crowd is disturbing. Yesterday, here in Gloucester, a muslim store owner was verbally berated by a drunken Trump supporter. Sadly, none of the people present intervened, including a friend of mine who is very upset about his own inaction.

    So thank you for speaking up to this horrid person. Many people would have felt intimidated and walked on by.

  15. Mary Lou Knapke SC

    Though the mountains may fall
    And the hills turn to dust………
    Is 54:10

    The love of the Lord will stand…
    And stand with you , David
    As we all live into and hopefully through
    These next four years!!!!!!

    Sister Mary Lou Knapke

  16. Robin Holt Zenker

    It would be nice if all parties would stop the divisive behavior regarding the election results. The election is over and unless I have completely missed something we still maintain a democracy where the majority wins. Fueling this fire ad nauseum is so disappointing to see. Especially from a well respected scientist, writer, teacher.. the list goes on.
    Perhaps the admirable and civil way to respond to what has already transpired would be to stop the press, hold our breath, and wish good thoughts for our country and what the immediate future holds. Beating a dead horse is increasingly hard to tolerate. Energy begets energy. Discention to the magnitude that we are seeing is nothing but dangerous.
    I wished so much for a third candidate. Someone with class and integrity that we all could be proud of as our country’s leader. Unfortunately, that person was nowhere to be found on our ballots. The least we may all do for our country is to let go of so much misdirected anger and wish the very best for our country and for ourselves and for our fellow man.

    1. Katherine

      However, the actual majority voted for Hillary Clinton. It’s the electoral college that will give the post to Trump.

    2. Randy Horick

      Robin, assuming your reading comprehension isn’t faulty, you should go back and re-read the account of what happened. Dr. Haskell specifically noted that he wasn’t questioning the result of the election. He was ashamed of Corker, as all Tennesseans should be, for keeping silence in the face of Trump’s misogyny, race-baiting and xenophobia DURING THE CAMPAIGN. And you seem not to grasp the irony in your own post; if you favor democracy, you don’t tell the people on the losing side of an election that they should leave the state if they don’t like the result. Please, please, please, get over yourself.

      1. Robin Holt Zenker

        Randy, I do believe you read several things into my response that weren’t there.. speaking of reading comprehension… since attack mode seems to be your forte’. I did not say David disputed the election results. What I suggested was we ATTEMPT to respect the decision of the majority. A courtesy that should extend from both ‘parties’ or ‘sides’.. neither of which I based my decision for voting. Which leads to your next ugly attack. It certainly presents itself that you just assumed I was in that majority vote. And you know what they say about assuming…

    3. revkaren2014

      Um…this is democracy in action. A constituent telling an elected official his opinion and a concern. No one should be told to leave for exercising their rights. Senator Corker is supposed to be representing everyone in TN. Sharing that we want our elected officials to denounce spoken and actual acts of violence against minorities or women or immigrants or LGBTQ+ folks is not about election results.

    4. Myrlene Marsa

      As David said, he accepts the results. And for the moment we have still maintained our democracy. But, Trump and his cronies threaten that at every turn. He is continuing on his way to limiting the press and threatening people who disagree with him. That is not a democracy, but a dictatorship. We can keep our democracy through this time but only if we are vigilant and do not let them get away with spewing hate and shutting down speech. Corker should be ashamed of himself!

    5. Toby Stroud.

      How did you feel about unity eight years ago? How about four years ago?
      Very sorry to disappoint you.

  17. john gerber

    also, I think many of old school Republicans are embarrassed by him and surprised by the election results. They didn’t think he’d win. BC’s defensive response implies perhaps being caught off guard and “over it”.

  18. Randy Horick

    So “Anonymous” is a House of Representatives IP address? Guess I wasn’t that far off when I wondered if it was a paid Russian troll.

  19. Kelly Malone

    So, the contemptuous pol tries to put a constituent in his place, and that constituent turns out to be a celebrated writer with a blog. I’d call that karma.

  20. Jeff Kassner

    Good for you. We cannot be silent and never surrender to the negative and divisive attitudes of men like Senator Corker or president elect Trump.

  21. Bernie Ellis

    Amen and well said. Climate deniers like Senator Corner out my children’s and grandchildrens future in jeopardy. He should be ashamed.

  22. Patricia M

    Senator Corker has a 13% lifetime rating from the League of Concervation Voters. He has whopping 5% rating for 2015. No wonder he was upset that you interrupted his nature walk. He was probably trying to figure out how to get the 13% down to a tidy zero.

  23. Lori Whaley Barton

    Mr. Haskell, it was incredibly inappropriate for you to confront Mr. Corker during a recreational activity on his weekend. You are, clearly, not from the south, or you, clearly, find your views superior to anyone else’s. Otherwise, you would understand how completely lacking in dignity and class your behavior represents.

    Having spent a great deal of time and summers at Sewanee as a cradle-born Episcopalian, I am horribly embarrassed for them that you no so little of social constructs that you found this appropriate. The arrogance you have shown is appalling. So, how’s this? I did not support Mr. Trump for POTUS, but I agree with Corker – “If you are unhappy about who the citizens of this nation elected as POTUS, you are welcomed to take your infantile, classless self somewhere else.”

    1. Liz Norell

      Corker had every right to walk away from the conversation by saying, “I respect your views, but I’m currently enjoying a much-needed break from work. Have a nice day.” He instead chose to tell one of his constituents to leave the state. This is precisely what’s most disturbing (to me) about the US today; we seem to operate on the notion that if you don’t agree with me, you should take yourself elsewhere. We’re losing the ability to hear another perspective without hostility. It’s incredibly dangerous.

  24. tpwjr

    I have never met Prof Haskell, but I believe he was the object of a main article in one of the Sewanee Alumni Magazine articles earlier this year. My comments are summed up in the FB Note I am posting here. His public tirade against Sen. Corker is embarrassing (I have not met the Senator either). A poor role model for our current student community. Perhaps he could avail himself of the free counseling that is no doubt being provided those HRC supporters that have yet been able to muster the energy to return to class since last Tuesday.

Comments are closed.