Rosa Parks, Racism and the Modern GOP
Glad to see the RNC being called out on their idiotic Rosa Parks tweet for their suggestion that racism has ended.
Nothing to be shocked or surprised at here. It’s business as usual for a political party whose very existence is based on being able to attract America’s entire lot of racists and bigots. As was clear during the Trayvon Martin uproar, the GOP operates on the premise that racism is a thing of the past…or, at the very least, this is what they’d like their mindless sheep to believe is true. If there’s no racism to speak of in America, then every bigoted racist move they pull (e.g. voter ID laws that target black Americans, Confederate flags at Tea Party rallies, birtherism…) can’t be racism, can it now? Pure bullshit, of course, as Ron Rosenbaum explains in a 2012 Slate piece.
I’m not saying all Republicans are racist. I’m saying that as a party, ever since Goldwater and Nixon concocted the benighted, openly racist “Southern Strategy” in the ’60s, the Republican Party has profited from overt and covert racism.
The Southern Strategy was designed to capitalize on Southern white resentment of court-enforced busing to end school desegregation, of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of discrimination in interstate commerce, of enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to prevent historically racist Southern counties and states from discriminating against blacks who sought to exercise their right to vote where once they’d been effectively barred. By playing on these issues, Nixon and other Republicans of this era won many traditionally Democratic votes in the South. Later, GOP opposition to affirmative action, race-based hiring “quotas” and all other methods of compensating for the debilitating legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and segregation fed into what was one of the momentous shifts, a total turnaround in just more than a decade (1970 to 1984) from a solidly Democratic South to a solidly Republican one.
Which is how the RNC tweet like the one above came to be.
Yeah, it was probably a junior social-media staffer who threw up that Twitter post about Rosa Parks “ending racism” in 1955…
The first truth is that this staffer, whoever it was, in all likelihood made this slip for a reason. She or he has been schooled to believe that racism did end, and that all present-day discussion of the problem is just whining from society’s takers. We might call this a central tenet of the right, although the word tenet dignifies it too much. It’s more like a fact-free conviction, held by people who are never capable of imagining walking a hundred yards, let alone a mile, in another person’s shoes.
Whoever this tweeter was, s/he has been hearing the refrain since the day s/he got into the game. Yes, there was racism, and it was wrong. But racism, she’d have been tutored to believe, was a Democratic problem (check that; a Democrat problem, her tutors would undoubtedly have said). She’d have heard all about how it was really Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen who passed the civil-rights bill (which is like saying the Serbs defeated the Nazis—they were on the right side, but they hardly carried the heavy artillery). She’d have been instructed to repeat “Party of Lincoln!” at the necessary intervals, and she’d have been coached in the phony, euphemistic language that Republicans use to acknowledge certain past sins but to press forward, sunnily noting that all of that is “behind us.”
[…] It’s amazing that it’s been six decades since Rosa Parks did what she did, and there hasn’t been one prominent national Republican leader who has said simply: “We were wrong. We, the white people of the South, the evangelicals, George Wallace’s famous beauticians and firemen, the beating heart of today’s GOP—we were wrong.” I’d like to see that tweet come out of the RNC, but I’m not holding my breath.
You want something else not to hold your breath hoping it’ll ever happen?
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan said:
This country is just too fucked up about color. … People at each other’s throats because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back—or any neighborhood back. … It’s a country founded on the backs of slaves. … If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today.
Yes: “A country founded on the backs of slaves.” And a party cravenly unashamed to base its existence on the backs of slaveholder states. Journalists, start telling the truth about the GOP.