Culture wars – race

The Spirit That Drove Us to Civil War Is Back by Andy Schmookler, Huffington Post, 09/02/2014  …the force that drove us to Civil War more than a century and a half ago, and the force that has taken over the Republican Party in our times…In both cases, we see an elite insisting on their “liberty,” by which they mean the freedom to dominate… the use of the structures of American democracy was combined with a contempt for the democratic values that inspired our founders… the idea of compromise became a dirty word, as the inflamed insistence on getting everything one’s own way took hold of the inflamed side…the powerful elite in the grip of that destructive force refused to accept that in a democracy sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and sometimes you have to accept being governed by a duly-elected president you don’t like. Today’s Republicans have done everything they could to nullify the presidency of Barack Obama, whom the American people duly elected twice. Like no other opposition party in American history, they have refused to accept the temporary minority status to which American voters have consigned them. Blocking the president from performing the function for which the people hired him has been their top priority.

 

Fox News is Tearing Us Apart: Race Baiting and Divisiveness Hits a Disgusting New Low By Paul Rosenberg,  Salon, posted on Alternet.org, August 29, 2014  …today’s conservative media were unlike anything in existence in 1992…white victimization — and thus rallying around victim/heroes — is the cornerstone of Fox News’ programming, even as it’s embraced the ideology that racism has been eradicated (never mind the actual facts, and concluded that the real racists are those who still talk about race…There has been a clear strategic calculation here among Republican elites. Better to leverage or at least accept the racism of much of the Republican base than try to clean it up…almost 50 years after Nixon first launched his “Southern Strategy,” …

 

 

Noam Chomsky: Reagan Was an ‘Extreme Racist’ Who Re-Enslaved African Americans By Scott Kaufman, Alternet, December 11, 2014

The Real Origins of the Religious Right By RANDALL BALMER, Politico.com, May 27, 2014    They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation. Posted on Facebook by the Christian Left, 12-9-14 with commentary: We’ve been aware of this for some time but we were recently reminded of it. The “Christian” Right was originally brewed up to defend racism parading as “Religious Freedom.” When the founders realized they couldn’t flaunt racism in the open they threw up abortion instead. They would use whatever issue was handy, and they had tried most of them before. Abortion was their golden egg and they ran with it.   http://www.thechristianleft.org/

Is Southern Conservatism Just Plain Old Racism? By Paul Rosenberg, Salon, Alternet, August 21, 2014

Disrespect, Race and Obama By CHARLES M. BLOW, New York Times, November 15, 2013

The Spirit That Drove Us to Civil War Is Back by Andy Schmookler, Huffington Post, 09/02/2014  …the force that drove us to Civil War more than a century and a half ago, and the force that has taken over the Republican Party in our times…In both cases, we see an elite insisting on their “liberty,” by which they mean the freedom to dominate… the use of the structures of American democracy was combined with a contempt for the democratic values that inspired our founders… the idea of compromise became a dirty word, as the inflamed insistence on getting everything one’s own way took hold of the inflamed side…the powerful elite in the grip of that destructive force refused to accept that in a democracy sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and sometimes you have to accept being governed by a duly-elected president you don’t like. Today’s Republicans have done everything they could to nullify the presidency of Barack Obama, whom the American people duly elected twice. Like no other opposition party in American history, they have refused to accept the temporary minority status to which American voters have consigned them. Blocking the president from performing the function for which the people hired him has been their top priority.

Fox News is Tearing Us Apart: Race Baiting and Divisiveness Hits a Disgusting New Low By Paul Rosenberg,  Salon, posted on Alternet.org, August 29, 2014  …today’s conservative media were unlike anything in existence in 1992…white victimization — and thus rallying around victim/heroes — is the cornerstone of Fox News’ programming, even as it’s embraced the ideology that racism has been eradicated (never mind the actual facts, and concluded that the real racists are those who still talk about race…There has been a clear strategic calculation here among Republican elites. Better to leverage or at least accept the racism of much of the Republican base than try to clean it up…almost 50 years after Nixon first launched his “Southern Strategy,” …

The Truth About Race In America: It’s Getting Worse, Not Better By Gary Younge, The Nation, May 23, 2014

The Spiritual and Political Warfare of the New Religious Right by Bill Berkowitz for Buzzflash at Truthout, July 9, 2013

Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, June 28, 2012 

Fear of a Black President By Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic,The Atlantic, Sep­tem­ber 2012…

The Persistence of Racial Resentment By THOMAS B. EDSALL, Feb­ru­ary 6, 2013Although there was plenty of dis­cus­sion dur­ing the 2012 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign about the His­panic vote and how intense black turnout would be, the press was pre­oc­cu­pied with the white vote: the white work­ing class, white women and upscale whites. Largely miss­ing from daily news sto­ries were ref­er­ences to research on how racial atti­tudes have changed under Obama, the nation’s first black pres­i­dent. In fact, there has been an inter­est­ing explo­ration of this sub­ject among academics…Despite how con­tro­ver­sial it has been to talk about race, researchers have gath­ered a sub­stan­tial amount of infor­ma­tion on the opin­ions of white Amer­i­can vot­ers…the evi­dence strongly sug­gests that party attach­ments have become increas­ingly polar­ized by both racial atti­tudes and race as a result of Obama’s rise to promi­nence within the Demo­c­ra­tic Party…At the moment, the pop­u­la­tion of the United States (314 mil­lion) is head­ing towards a majority-minority sta­tus in 2042. The Amer­i­can elec­torate, on the other hand (126 mil­lion) is cur­rently 72 per­cent white, based on the vot­ers who cast bal­lots last Novem­ber …the shifts…within the right wing of the Repub­li­can Party. Many vot­ers voic­ing stronger anti-black affect were already Repub­li­can… Some Repub­li­can strate­gists believe the party’s deep­en­ing con­ser­vatism is scar­ing away voters…what Time Mag­a­zine recently described as the Repub­li­can “brand iden­tity that has emerged from the stars of the con­ser­v­a­tive media ecosys­tem: Rush Lim­baugh, Sean Han­nity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coul­ter, and others.”It is not so much Latino and black vot­ers that the Repub­li­can Party needs. To win the White House again, it must assuage the social con­science of main­stream, mod­er­ate white vot­ers among whom an ethos of tol­er­ance has become nor­mal. These vot­ers are con­cerned with fair­ness and diver­sity, even as they stand to the right of cen­ter. It is there that the upcom­ing polit­i­cal bat­tles — on the gamut of issues from race to rights — will be fought. 

America’s Ku Klux Klan Mentality By Lawrence Davidson,Con­sor­tium News, Sep­tem­ber 8, 2012 -The Ku Klux Klan… declared mis­sion was to “main­tain the supremacy of the white race in the­United States.” To this end it adopted tac­tics in the South­ern states that would so ter­rify eman­ci­pated African-Americans and their white allies that they would not dare to vote, run for pub­lic office, or inter­min­gle with whites except in “racially appro­pri­ate” ways…It was very rare that those involved…were arrested for their actions much less con­victed and ade­quately pun­ished. This, in turn, was pos­si­ble because of a num­ber of factors: – First and fore­most, the belief that African-Americans, and sub­se­quently all non-whites, were dan­ger­ous to “white civ­i­liza­tion.” This belief was built into the cul­tural per­cep­tions of the majority…The nation’s deep-seated his­tory of racism has helped pre­serve an appar­ent per­ma­nent sub­set of Amer­i­cans who grow up with prej­u­di­cial feel­ings against any­one they per­ceive as a threat to their ver­sion of the “Amer­i­can way of life.” This back­ground can help us under­stand the ongo­ing attacks against Amer­i­can Mus­lims. Since 2010 there has been an increase in the num­ber of attacks on Amer­i­can Mus­lims, their mosques and other prop­erty, as well as Amer­i­can minori­ties (such as Sikhs) who are reg­u­larly mis­taken for Muslims…An impor­tant fac­tor in all of this is the role of a num­ber of cam­paign­ing politi­cians who go around pro­claim­ing the threat that Amer­i­can Mus­lims sup­pos­edly rep­re­sent to the country…the United States, the nation spent…165 years, build­ing up an “Amer­i­can way of life,” which legit­imized dis­crim­i­na­tion against non-whites… there are still those groups of cit­i­zens who are deeply racist…when con­di­tions allow, that racism emerges in a pub­lic way, often in hate speech but some­times more bru­tally. These extrem­ists are the mod­ern day ver­sions of yesterday’s Klans­men and, given a chance, they will hap­pily com­mit may­hem in the name of their cher­ished tra­di­tions. Amer­i­can Mus­lims are now their chief target…

How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane By David Nei­w­ert [2], John Amato [3] Poli­Point Press [1] posted on Alternet.org, May 25, 2010 — The fol­low­ing is adapted from “Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Elec­tion Drove the Amer­i­can Right Insane,” [4]due out next month from PoliPoint Press.On the day Barack Obama was elected pres­i­dent of the United States… those who opposed Obama pre­cisely because he sought to become the nation’s first black pres­i­dent — it went well beyond the usual despair….So maybe it wasn’t really a sur­prise that they responded that day with the spe­cial venom and vio­lence pecu­liar to the Amer­i­can Right…We are see­ing lit­er­ally hun­dreds of inci­dents around the coun­try — from cross-burnings to death threats to effi­gies hang­ing to con­fronta­tions in school­yards, and it’s quite remark­able. I think that there are polit­i­cal lead­ers out there who are say­ing incred­i­bly irre­spon­si­ble things that could have the effect of undamming a real flood of hate. That includes media fig­ures. On immi­gra­tion, they have been some of the worst. There’s a lot going on, and it’s very likely to lead to scape­goat­ing. And in the end, scape­goat­ing leaves corpses in the street…

The Long, Sordid History of the American Right and Racism By Robert Parry, Consortium News May 20, 2013   Racism has been a consistent thread weaving through the American Right from the early days when Anti-Federalists battled against the U.S. Constitution to the present when hysterical Tea Partiers denounce the first African-American president. Other factors have come and gone for the Right, but racism has always been there…Though definitions of Right and Left are never precise, the Left has generally been defined, in the American context, by government actions – mostly the federal government responding to popular movements and representing the collective will of the American people – seeking to improve the lot of common citizens and to reduce social injustice. The Right has been defined by opposition to such government activism. Since the Founding, the Right has decried government interference with the “free market” and intrusion upon “traditions,” like slavery and segregation, as “tyranny” or “socialism.” This argument goes back to 1787 and opposition to the Constitution’s centralizing of government power in the hands of federal authorities…… the Second Amendment was devised to give individual Americans the right to own and carry any weapon of their choice…it was primarily a concession to the states… a Southern state’s ability to maintain slavery by force and defend against slave uprisings… the concerns were not entirely over rebellious slaves, but also over rebellious poor whites…Though the concentration of power in Washington D.C. gave rise to legitimate questions about authoritarianism, the federal government also became the guiding hand for the nation’s economic development and for elimination of gross regional injustices such as slavery. Federal action in defense of national principles regarding justice eventually helped define the American Left…After World War II – with the United States now a world superpower – the continued existence of institutionalized racism became an embarrassment undermining America’s claim to be a beacon of human freedom. Finally, spurred on by Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists, the federal government finally moved against the South’s practice of segregation. That reignited the long-simmering conflict between federal power and states’ rights…Though the federal government prevailed in outlawing racial segregation, the Right’s anger over this intrusion upon Southern traditions fueled a powerful new movement of right-wing politicians. Since the Democratic Party led the fight against segregation in the 1960s, Southern whites rallied to the Republican Party as their vehicle of political resistance. Opportunistic politicians, such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, deftly exploited the white backlash and turned much of the Dixie-crat South into solid Republican Red. This resurgence of white racial resentments also merged with a reassertion of “libertarian” economics as memories of the Great Depression faded. In essence, the late Nineteenth Century alliance between segregationist whites in the South and laissez-faire businessmen in the North was being reestablished. This right-wing collaboration reached a new level of intensity in 2008 after the election of the first African-American president whose victory reflected the emergence of a multi-racial electorate threatening to end the historic white political domination of the United States. With the election also coming amid a Wall Street financial collapse – after years of reduced government regulation — Barack Obama’s arrival also portended a renewal of federal government activism. Thus, the age-old battle was rejoined…However, the historical narrative that the Right constructed around the nation’s Founding was not the one that actually happened… in the Right’s revisionist version, the Articles of Confederation are forgotten and the Framers were simply out to create a governing system with strong states’ rights and a weak federal government. That fabrication played well with an uneducated right-wing base that could then envision itself using its Second Amendment rights to fight for the Framers’ vision of “liberty.” As this right-wing narrative now plays out, Barack Obama is not only a black Muslim “socialist” oppressing liberty-loving white Christian Americans but he is a “tyrant” despoiling the beautiful, nearly divine, God-inspired Constitution that the Framers bestowed upon the nation — including, apparently, those wonderful provisions protecting slavery.

Tim Wise on White Resentment in a Multiracial Society  - interview by Mark Karlin, Truthout, March 2, 2012 Dear White America, Letter to a New Minority [4]” is the latest book by Tim Wise, a specialist on white privilege, and the emergence of white resentment as power becomes shared among all citizens of the United States.…it took America — this place where the old divisions would need to be put aside so as to subjugate indigenous persons and maintain chattel enslavement of Africans in the name of “the white race” — to really bring racism, as we know it to fruition…If the elite could make the poor Europeans believe they were members of the same “white” team as the rich Europeans, then the prospects for class-based rebellion would be dampened…it’s not that the election of Obama caused the racism of course, but it certainly gave those with deep seated racial resentments and anxieties a new opportunity to articulate those under the guise of mainstream politics.…the sense of otherness surrounding him is even greater. He stands as something of a symbol of the transition from the old, white narrative of America to a new, multicultural, multiracial norm — and it’s a norm for which many, many whites simply are not prepared and about which they are not pleased…My goal isn’t so much to assuage whites as it is to confront us with the reality that, ultimately, racial equity is in the interest of all of us; that the nostalgic remembrance of the past is not only problematic in that it tethers us to a narrative that overlooks the fundamental evil of those “good old days” for millions, but also because it commits us to the kind of nation that is not sustainable for anyone in the long run.…The inequities to which the nostalgic are so indifferent are literally a dagger pointed at the heart of most all of us… I don’t expect the truly nostalgic white folks to much care — they will never be satisfied until their white republic is restored — but I do think there are millions of other whites, perhaps younger and less attracted to this “Pleasantville” kind of nation, who can be brought into allyship with people of color, and that’s what I think we should focus on…[poor whites]have been subjected to intense racial propaganda for generations, which has sadly left them clinging to…the psychological advantage of believing oneself superior to someone, anyone of color, even though you are suffering economically…the U.S., more so than elsewhere, has cultivated the notion that “anyone can make it” if they try hard enough…at some level, even the poorest persons hope that one day they will be one of them — or if not rich, at least comfortable. So class consciousness becomes harder in such a place, and yet, when one’s class position doesn’t rise very much from generation to generation (and for many whites it still doesn’t), they content themselves with their perceived superiority relative to persons of color, and settle for that, rather than fighting for a better deal for all workers, white and of color…few whites have ever been confronted with the dysfunctionality of our privilege, and racial inequity generally. Rarely has the anti-racist message been one that clearly confronted whites with the ways in which these disparities damage not just people of color, but indirectly, us as well. I think there is at least a chance that if that becomes a key part of the narrative, as mentioned above, that enough whites can be peeled away from our tendency to engage in race-bonding, and instead to begin thinking about solidarity more seriously…if you want to problematize a key identity — in this case whiteness — which people have become wedded to over time, you have to replace it with something. You have to give people some personal incentives for giving up the safety and security of all they’ve known, so as to trade it in for something else. The way I hope to do that is by making it as clear as possible that whiteness, while providing real advantages relative to people of color, comes at a cost. It tethers us to an economic system that ultimately harms all working people, by keeping them fighting with one another, by convincing us to slash safety nets in the name of free markets and “small government” (even as millions of whites then come to need these same programs and assistance in order to keep their heads above water), and by prioritizing individual success and accomplishment at the expense of the collective good. So for those who are deeply committed to whiteness, perhaps nothing can be done. But for many, many others, I think there is at least a chance that that kind of message can hit home…It’s incredibly difficult [for any group to willingly surrender privilege and power] But then again, if the cost of clinging to those relative privileges and advantages outweighs their benefits, in the long run, then realizing that can help us begin the process towards relinquishing them in the name of equity and a better deal for all…this nostalgic vision of the 50’s (or really the pre-1960s, let’s be honest) is due to the way in which the country in those days seemed to be so clearly white, protestant, straight, etc, and how the 1960s and 70s confronted the nation with its warts, with its injustices, none of which white America wanted to see. They remember those days fondly because it was before they had to share the notion of Americanness with those who were fundamentally different, racially, culturally, ethnically and so on. It was a time of “innocence” to them, even as it was a time of intense racial terror for millions. That’s why the cries of “I want my country back” are so clearly about race, at least in terms of their background noise…[question - Why does the debate about “big” vs. “small” government today have racial overtones?] Big government was something that was hugely popular, even among white people, right up until the 1960s.…But as soon as people of color gained access to the same programs that whites had always had access to, that is when we discovered our “inner libertarian,” and things like government intervention in labor markets or housing markets came to seen as bad, and destructive, and a cause of laziness, etc. It was very convenient. And as social policy and programs to help the have nots and have-lessers became more and more racialized, support for those efforts dropped…if black people, because of their incompetence, ethical depravity and criminality had managed to wipe out $12 trillion in wealth (mostly owned by white people, I should point out), which is what the Wall Street con men managed to do from 2007 to 2009, in just 18 months, you know what the discussion would have sounded like. People would have openly discussed the race of the perps…we are more comfortable blaming the “other” for the mess, rather than placing it where it belongs. 

10 Most Inhumane Laws Courtesy of Southern Republicans By Alex Henderson, AlterNet, September 3, 2014  The extreme right has been in a state of maximum anxiety during the Barack Obama era. Between growing acceptance for same-sex marriage, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, troubling economic conditions (which they blame on the left even though the September 2008 crash occurred under George W. Bush’s failed presidency) and being constantly whipped into a frenzy by Fox News and AM talk radio, far-right Republicans and the Tea Party believe they are “losing their country.” Instead of moving more to the center, the Republican Party and the Tea Party have resolved to “rally the base” by doubling down on their insanity, especially in the Deep South and Texas, where it is much easier to push a far-right agenda than it is in more centrist or liberal-leaning parts of the United States. And in a mid-term election year like 2014, railing against their usual targets—African Americans, gays, immigrants, atheists, women seeking abortions and pretty much anyone else who isn’t a white male Christian fundamentalist over 50—is an all-too-familiar GOP get-out-the-vote strategy for the Bible Belt. Here are 10 examples of Republicans showing their “southern hospitality” in 2013 and 2014 with oppressive laws, bills and official platforms in the Deep South and Texas.

1. Mississippi Anti-Abortion Law 1390

2. Tennessee Law SB 1391: The Tennessee Pregnancy Criminalization Law

3. Bill 2566: Tennessee’s “Turn Away the Gays” Bill

4. Alabama and Louisiana Admitting Privileges Laws

5. North Carolina Voter ID Law

6. Fetal Heartbeat Bills in Alabama and Arkansas

7. The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, Tennessee

8. “Reparative Therapy” For Gays, Texas-Style

9. Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act

10. Obscene Device Laws in Alabama and Sandy Springs, Georgia

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