Hate-mailing Health Ins. VP went to a segregated college in SC

Old habits die hard.

Inside_PT_Barracks

Denny Flahault finally “apologized” to Kiwanis for emailing out the inchoate-with-hate cartoons and mashups that we reported on September 9th (Health Ins. VP sends Obama Hate-mail on Company Account).

Well, sort of.

The local newspaper, the Herald-Times of Bloomington, Indiana published the following story today (because it’s impossible to access without a subscription, I’m reprinting it here, for the benefit of those members and readers of Kiwanis International and this blog, respectively) [emphasis added]:

Exec’s e-mail on Obama termed ‘very disturbing’ www.heraldtimesonline.com

VP of local chamber’s Large Business of Year criticized for sending out images of president

By Mike Leonard
9/25/2009

A day after Hylant Group of Bloomington was honored as the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Large Business of the Year, a vice
president for the company is being assailed for sending out an inappropriate and racially-tinged e-mail on his company account, using his company signature.

The e-mail includes various images of President Barack Obama: as a communist, as Adolf Hitler, as the nerdy African-American child character Steve Urkel from the television show “Family Matters,” and as Mad magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman. One image depicts Obama, surrounded by communist and Muslim symbols, urinating on a map of the United States.

The e-mail was posted earlier this month on a blog written by journalist Hart Williams, who wrote that the e-mail was passed to him by a friend who is a member of a “service organization” he declined to name.

LINK: See the Obama images and e-mails at the blog “His Vorpal Sword.” Warning: Some of the content may be offensive

On Thursday, Denton “Denny” Flahault, vice president of Hylant Group of Bloomington, acknowledged sending the e-mail. “Unfortunately, yes,” he said. “It was not intended for the individual who received it and it was completely a mistake.”

Jon Strole, regional chief operating officer for the Hylant Group, also said it was a mistake by an employee. “We do have a policy for employees in terms of you are not supposed to use your office e-mail to send personal things of that nature. We will deal with that internally,” he said.

“Denny has apologized to the Kiwanis organization and that has been accepted by their folks,” the Toledo-based corporate officer said.

Williams, the blogging journalist, linked the e-mailed images to the “pernicous racism” underlying attacks on the president, particularly over his call for health care reform. Audrey McCluskey, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at Indiana University, viewed the materials and wrote in an e-mail that they were “very much racially-tinged.”

She continued: “The easiest response would be to keep the temperature up by branding this outrageous slander as racist and giving the perpetrators the attention they crave. My question is, what is it about the American character that produces such images, and why do so many good people remain quiet in the face of it?”

Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, associate professor in the department of communications and culture at IU, termed the images “brutal and very disturbing” and wrote: “The images also serve as awful, scary replacements for argument and reason, which should be elevated in civic discourse. If health care matters and President Obama’s public polices ARE THE main issues under contention, then why is it necessary for one to resort to pushing images of President Obama with a dark mustache (with a swastika nearby) against a red background — all signifying that President Obama IS Hitler? Words and images matter!”

Despite Hylant’s corporate response that it does not condone the images sent out by its Bloomington representative, the company’s Web site does include a canned statement opposing health care reform for people to affix their own name to and send to their legislators. The letter urges legislators to “oppose any efforts to create a public health insurance program that undermines the employer-provided system” and maintains that “the practical impact of a public health insurance program results in higher costs for individuals remaining in the private system.”

“There are patently false and misleading statements in that letter,” health care reform activist Rob Stone said Thursday. Stone said he didn’t have a problem with some of the images in the Flahault e-mail — liberals had depicted George W. Bush as the Mad magazine character as well — but said the attack, overall, corresponds with the same kind of negative imagery and rhetoric used to undermine President Bill Clinton’s health care reform initiatives.

“The one of (Obama urinating) on the country with the hammer and sickle and the Muslim crescent — that stuff is so weird and mean-spirited, and, of course, the stuff with him as Hitler is so bizarre. Is he a socialist and a Nazi? What’s it supposed to mean?”

Christy Gillenwater, executive director of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, said it was unfortunate that a questionable e-mail was circulated at the same time the Hylant Group won its Business of the Year award and said she saw no connection between the two. “We were not privy to that information and that would seem to be a private matter,” she said. “The award went to the company and it’s a well-regarded company.

We’re thrilled to have them recognized as our Large Business of the Year.”

One more time.

FLAHAULT:  “It was not intended for the individual who received it and it was completely a mistake.”

Good lord.

from Flahault’s original email

That’s not even true. It was intended for SOME of the individuals who received it. Just not the people that Flahault cc’ed. Just as in the first report, he emailed his associate at Hylant, Bloomington but I got it, too:

Still wonder who this guy is and what he wants.  I’ll just wait and see a a bomb arrives.  If the package doesn’t look like wine or come from a winery, don’t accept it or open it!!

That was intended for his associate, Teresa James, and not for me.

But it’s really only the sort of “apology” that you make so as not to lose an account. Whether it’s sincere or not probably falls along the lines of what I wrote in the FIRST piece, which the Hylant Group just confirmed.

ME (September 9):

Now, the normal journalistic song and dance would be for me to call the corporate office, email them this, and ask for comment.

But we already know what that answer will be, no matter WHAT the truth actually is. Hylant Group are big boys and girls, and can defend themselves.

[And the corporate lawyers will vet it, come up with a lawyerly response (bear in mind that in the Say-owth, "lawyer" is pronounced "liar") and Hylant Insurance group would reply that this isn't their corporate policy, that Denton K. Flahault, AAI, CIC, CPIA, Vice President, Hylant Group Of Bloomington shouldn't have sent this out on corporate letterhead, and proper "disciplinary" actions would be taken. etc. etc. etc.]

And we won’t know a damned thing more than we already do.

Therefore, I will dispense with that portion of the song-and-dance. Hylant will undoubtedly issue that statement, all right, but not in this posting.

HYLANT (September 24 or 5):

Jon Strole, regional chief operating officer for the Hylant Group, also said it was a mistake by an employee. “We do have a policy for employees in terms of you are not supposed to use your office e-mail to send personal things of that nature. We will deal with that internally,” he said.

“Denny has apologized to the Kiwanis organization and that has been accepted by their folks,” the Toledo-based corporate officer said.

(So, should I apply for a position as court astrologer and crystal ball gazer?)

There’s a funny thing about moral courage. Sometimes it’s a good idea to stand up and be counted and say that what Denny Flahault  sent is NOT something that can be fixed with a quick, seemingly insincere apology.

As I stated on the radio station WFHB 91.3 in Bloomington earlier today, when you’re acting like a Grand Kleagle in the KKK, the burden is on YOU to prove that you aren’t. (And not on me to prove that you ARE.)

This is no laughing matter, nor is it a minor one: the insurance company VP who handles Kiwanis International is emailing Kiwanis officers racist cartoons and saying “you’ll love these.”  Now is the time to say “enough!”

[Click here to download an .mp3 of
the WFHB segment: 3 min46 sec 1.8 mb
]

And, supposedly, Kiwanis has accepted Denny’s “apology.” Swept it under the rug, more like.

You see, Denny Flahault is Kiwanis’ insurance guy. When Kiwanis want to hold a parade in Memphis, he writes the policy rider. When they want to put on an airshow in Oregon, he writes the policy rider. When they want to stage a fundraising fair in Kansas City, he writes up the insurance rider.

Get it?

Denny Flahault is the “insurance” exec who basically TELLS every Kiwanis in the country what they can and cannot do in their charitable activities. Oh, Hylant Group may have their actuaries and their offices in other states, but to Kiwanis and to Key Clubs, Denny Flahault is the face of the Insurer, without whom no one may stage an event (as our local Democratic party found out when it tried to hold a benefit concert). In the real world, Denny gets to tell Kiwanis what’s OK and what’s not.

And, they’re probably his biggest account. Kiwanis is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, of course.

And what Kiwanis members have to ask themselves is this: If this is the kind of stuff that Denny is sending around, what ELSE has he been sending around that DIDN’T get caught?

And, more importantly, WHO were the Kiwanis officers that Denny Flahault was emailing back and forth these “you’re gonna love these!” messages?

What do you suppose they were mailing back?

indiana

There is no PLACE for that sort of behavior in Kiwanis — a fine charitable and service organization — and Kiwanis OUGHT to make that clear. At this deadly point in history both Kiwanis AND Hylant ought to make that clear.

Because, at this moment in time, silence indicates assent.

According to one Kiwanis member who  sent a letter protesting the continued retention of Mr. Denny Flahault, “They never answered or even acknowledged my letter to them.”

So, are the good old boys covering it up?

kiwanis-1

Or is that serving “WHITE CHILDREN”?

We’ll ask them. And we’ll see how Kiwanis feel about the story that many of them haven’t heard of, and may never get told. But first, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on Denny Flahault’s actual or “accidental” racism.

Again, given the circumstances, the burden of proof is on him.

It would seem that Denny Flahault is the proud graduate of a segregated university. Or, it certainly was when he first stepped into its historic halls.

Yes, Denny Flahault is a graduate of The Citadel, Charleston South Carolina’s military university, and, well, let Wikipedia take up the tale:

American Civil War
Main article: Charleston, South Carolina, in the Civil War

On December 20, 1860, the South Carolina General Assembly made the state the first to ever secede from the Union. On January 9, 1861, Citadel cadets fired the first shots of the American Civil War when they opened fire on the Union ship Star of the West entering Charleston’s harbor. On April 12, 1861, shore batteries under the command of General Pierre G. T. Beauregard opened fire on the Union-held Fort Sumter in the harbor. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Officers and cadets from The Citadel were assigned to various Confederate batteries during the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Although The Citadel continued to operate as an academy during the Civil War, cadets were made a part of the South Carolina military department along with the cadets from the Arsenal Academy in Columbia, to form the Battalion of State Cadets. Cadets from both institutions continued to aid the Confederate army by helping drill recruits, manufacture ammunition, protect arms depots, and guard Union prisoners.

In December 1864 Citadel and Arsenal cadets were ordered to join Confederate forces at Tullifinny Creek, South Carolina where they engaged in pitched battles with advancing units of General W. T. Sherman’s army, suffering eight casualties.

In all, The Citadel Corps of Cadets earned eight battle streamers and one service streamer for its service to South Carolina during the War. [...]  In 1865, Union troops moved into the city, and took control of many sites, such as the United States Arsenal, which the Confederate army had seized at the outbreak of the war. The War department also confiscated the grounds and buildings of the Citadel Military Academy, which was used as a federal garrison for over 17 years, until its return to the state and reopening as a military college in 1882 under the direction of Lawrence E. Marichak.

Yes, and the Wikipedia entry on The Citadel notes this fun fact:

Charles Foster became the first African-American cadet to graduate from the Citadel in 1970…

Considering the earliest that Foster could have enrolled was the fall of 1966, the Citadel was only “integrated” during Denny Flahault’s senior year in one of the most virulent bastions of the Jim Crow South.

Here’s the pages, and here’s the pictures.

And,

Class of 1967
Denton K Flahault

“Denny”
Business Administration
Madison, NJ

64_Flahault_DK

1964 – Citadel segregated

65_Flahault_DK

1965 – Citadel Segregated

66_Flahault_DK

1966 – Citadel segregated

67_Flahault_DK

1967 – Citadel “integrated”
unless first Black student,
gr. 1970,  was a transfer student

You might notice that Denny Flahault uses his corporate address for lots of private business, and Hylant doesn’t seem to have had a problem with it before. (On that same Citadel alum page):

citadel alumni page

Denny Flahault on Citadel 1967 alumni page

So: given that, will the Hylant Group and Kiwanis International continue to sweep this under the rug, or will Denny Flahault make an actual apology for what are claimed to be inadvertent emails — “a total mistake”?

Inadvertent in WHO they were sent to, at least.

And yet there is no contrition. There is no mea culpa. Just the continuing apology for the mistake of having let the public see the ugliness of the graphically hateful and racially disgusting “private” emails of the graduate of one of the last bastions of the Old South, from back when it was still legally segregated. The insurance agent for Kiwanis International.

This is another Trent Lott moment, unless they can make it vanish.

But, if a Van Jones, in a position of public trust, can be drummed out of his job, why then is a Denny Flahault — also in a position that requires public trust (in this case, the customers of Kiwanis International over whose charitable activities he exercises an inordinate control) — swept under the carpet?

Isn’t that a bit of a double standard? Shouldn’t he be required to either explain himself or resign his position?

Oh, that’s right. He’s a white boy from a segregated Southern school living in Indiana. Indiana, whose history in racial relations isn’t exactly something to write home about.*

(* Wikipedia: The organization [KKK] reached its highest point of power during the years that followed, and by 1925 over half the members of the Indiana General Assembly, the Governor of Indiana, and many other high ranking members of the government were all members of the Klan….)

The officers of Kiwanis International should be required by their membership to account for WHO those emails were sent to, and how long this has been going on. And they should be required to explain HOW  Mr. Flahault’s egregious and over-the-line hate-speak doesn’t disqualify him as the insurance agent of Kiwanis International.

Remember, it has been demonstrated that the insurance companies are very much responsible for being the cash behind the “tea party” excesses of this summer. They need to be held to account. And, as such, Hylant needs to answer with something other than a patronizing dismissal. “Oh, he apologized and it’s been accepted.”

This isn’t third grade. And it wasn’t just that little Denny said a naughty word or dipped a girl’s pigtails in the inkwell. This is serious stuff, but Hylant and Kiwanis’ board doesn’t seem to “get” that.

If they (Hylant) “have a policy” about the dissemination of racist hate-mail regarding the President of the United States of America, then they ought to explain to US, their potential customers, the PUBLIC, what that policy is, and what they are going to do about our Alumni of a Segregated Southern University and his “you’re going to love this” racist emails.

Otherwise, they’re aiding and abetting.

Corporations and insurers have an obligation to the public, as well, even if it’s only the fear of losing a buck or two because of the unscrupulous activities of its agents.

Courage.

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2009/09/25/news.qp-5230405.sto
Exec’s e-mail on Obama termed ‘very disturbing’: http://www.heraldtimesonline.com
VP of local chamber’s Large Business of Year criticized for sending out images of president
By Mike Leonard
331-4368 | mleonard@heraldt.com
9/25/2009
A day after Hylant Group of Bloomington was honored as the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Large Business of the Year, a vice
president for the company is being assailed for sending out an inappropriate and racially-tinged e-mail on his company account, using his company
signature.
The e-mail includes various images of President Barack Obama: as a communist, as Adolf Hitler, as the nerdy African-American child character Steve
Urkel from the television show “Family Matters,” and as Mad magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman. One image depicts Obama, surrounded by communist
and Muslim symbols, urinating on a map of the United States.
The e-mail was posted earlier this month on a blog written by journalist Hart Williams, who wrote that the e-mail was passed to him by a friend who is a
member of a “service organization” he declined to name.
LINK: See the Obama images and e-mails at the blog “His Vorpal Sword.” Warning: Some of the content may be offensive
On Thursday, Denton “Denny” Flahault, vice president of Hylant Group of Bloomington, acknowledged sending the e-mail. “Unfortunately, yes,” he
said. “It was not intended for the individual who received it and it was completely a mistake.”
Jon Strole, regional chief operating officer for the Hylant Group, also said it was a mistake by an employee. “We do have a policy for employees in
terms of you are not supposed to use your office e-mail to send personal things of that nature. We will deal with that internally,” he said.
“Denny has apologized to the Kiwanis organization and that has been accepted by their folks,” the Toledo-based corporate officer said.
Williams, the blogging journalist, linked the e-mailed images to the “pernicous racism” underlying attacks on the president, particularly over his call for
health care reform. Audrey McCluskey, director of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center at Indiana University, viewed the materials and wrote in an
e-mail that they were “very much racially-tinged.”
She continued: “The easiest response would be to keep the temperature up by branding this outrageous slander as racist and giving the perpetrators
the attention they crave. My question is, what is it about the American character that produces such images, and why do so many good people remain
quiet in the face of it?”
Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, associate professor in the department of communicaions and culture at IU, termed the images “brutal and very disturbing”
and wrote: “The images also serve as awful, scary replacements for argument and reason, which should be elevated in civic discourse. If health care
matters and President Obama’s public polices ARE THE main issues under contention, then why is it necessary for one to resort to pushing images of
President Obama with a dark mustache (with a swastika nearby) against a red background — all signifying that President Obama IS Hitler? Words and
images matter!”
Despite Hylant’s corporate response that it does not condone the images sent out by its Bloomington representative, the company’s Web site does
include a canned statement opposing health care reform for people to affix their own name to and send to their legislators. The letter urges legislators
to “oppose any efforts to create a public health insurance program that undermines the employer-provided system” and maintains that “the practical
impact of a public health insurance program results in higher costs for individuals remaining in the private system.”
“There are patently false and misleading statements in that letter,” health care reform activist Rob Stone said Thursday. Stone said he didn’t have a
problem with some of the images in the Flahault e-mail — liberals had depicted George W. Bush as the Mad magazine character as well — but said
the attack, overall, corresponds with the same kind of negative imagery and rhetoric used to undermine President Bill Clinton’s health care reform
initiatives.
“The one of (Obama urinating) on the country with the hammer and sickle and the Muslim crescent — that stuff is so weird and mean-spirited, and, of
course, the stuff with him as Hitler is so bizarre. Is he a socialist and a Nazi? What’s it supposed to mean?”
Christy Gillenwater, executive director of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, said it was unfortunate that a questionable e-mail was
circulated at the same time the Hylant Group won its Business of the Year award and said she saw no connection between the two. “We were not
privy to that information and that would seem to be a private matter,” she said. “The award went to the company and it’s a well-regarded company.
We’re thrilled to have them recognized as our Large Business of the Year.”
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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Hate-mailing Health Ins. VP went to a segregated college in SC

  1. bughunter

    Two points: 1) I’m a good ole boy born and raised in Aiken, South Carolina (look up the sheriff’s name for a laugh) and I know how racism works. It’s displayed openly when around those of like mind, at home or at work. You got a small whiff of it in the forwarded email. Introduce a black person though, or put a camera in the room and suddenly everyone is a bastion of tolerance. Flahault, Hylant and Kiwanis are full of bullshit.

    and 2) If Flahault were a “liberal” Insurance Exec, and Kiwanis a “liberal” service group, and they offended Limbaughian sensibilities, you can guarantee there would be a shitstorm of national proportions until Flahault was fired. But good people don’t get outraged, not even when they should.

    Not enough of us, anyway.

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  3. Mac McFadden

    There was nothing “inadvertent” about the emails. I have no doubt they represent his true feelings. The only inadvertent part was sending them to non-Kluxers.

  4. Tootie

    Southern Indiana is pretty conservative ground – that’s why Evan Bayh is a Democrat but very conservative.

  5. Mary Corder

    I’m a Hoosier, too. This kind of crap happens far too often here. There are many liberals in Indiana, but you would never know it…people like “Denny” are everywhere. Lots of people move to get away from this — not me though. This kind of guy is not running me out of my state. Someone has to attempt to provide balance. Indianapolis has ONE newspaper, which is sad enough, but if you’ve every read it, it disgusts most liberals on most days.

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