Racism begets racism


by Jeff Fecke | | May 28, 2009 • Riffing off a point by Matt Yglesias (who notes that the opposition to Sotomayor has been almost cartoonishly racist), Ta-Nehisi Coates says the GOP can’t help itself:

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

One problem with the GOP is that when you build your brand on Willie Horton, “white hands” and the Minutemen, you end up with a party that, well, believes in those things. People keep saying that the GOP is playing into Obama’s hands. I’ve said similar. But as I think about this, that takes chess-match thinking to a rather silly extreme.

More likely, when you have a party, in which people feel comfortable coming to rallies and saying on camera that they won’t vote for a black guy, then that party will have people asserting the right to mispronounce Sotomayor’s name. That party will have people arguing that Sotomayer’s food choices are evil. It’s highly unlikely that that party will have some sort of sophisticated tolerence game at the ready. They are who they are.

That’s exactly right. The GOP is reaping the seeds sown when Nixon launched the Southern Strategy — the Republican Party has become the party of racism in America. I’m not saying all Republicans are racist — they aren’t. But most racists are Republican, for the simple reason that the Republican party has shown itself to be welcoming to the intolerant, the bigoted, and the hateful. That’s the reason that despite strong business support, and despite the clear long-term interest of the GOP in attracting Latino and Latina voters, and despite the strong support of both the the then-President and the party’s future presidential nominee, that immigration reform went nowhere. That’s the reason why opposition to Obama so often takes the where’s the birth certificate/scary black man/socialist!!! approach, when a sane approach would certainly work better.

Like the scorpion on the back of the frog, the GOP can’t help but sting anymore — it’s in its nature. Fortunately for America — and unfortunately for the GOP — the sting isn’t hurting the frog anymore. And unless the Republican Party can find a way to transcend the racism that is at the very core of its existence, the Republican Party alone is going to find itself drowning.

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