Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Racism Dance

by LINN WASHINGTON, JR.

As the racist rhetoric oozes from Republican presidential candidates, why are comments contained in Ron Paul newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s being widely considered more offensive than current bigoted banter uttered by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum?

One answer to that question is a politics where partisan criticisms are directed at crippling certain candidates feared as rising stars.

Thus when Congressman Paul began percolating up in the Iowa Caucus polls late last year, news of his caustic comments in those decades-old newsletters became headline news coverage.

Curiously for a candidate tagged racist Paul has a public record of opposing the most racist governmental offensive in contemporary America – the War on Drugs – that societally destructive campaign other GOP presidential candidates ignore.

The Drug War’s documented race-tainted enforcement practices drives facts like blacks comprising 25% of Iowa’s state prison population despite blacks there representing just 2.9% of that state’s population.

Another answer to that question of why Ron not Rick or Newt lies embedded in
America’s historic refusal to earnestly address racism especially pernicious institutional racism.

Dancing around racism, individual and institutional, is as American as apple pie.

Typical of the disingenuousness entangling that dance, racist remarks receive much ado while silence surrounds substantive issues like the unearned privileges arising from institutional racism that have aided the lives and careers of each of the GOP presidential contenders.

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, for example, enjoyed a comfortable middle class upbringing after his 1958 birth because both of his parents worked as medical professionals at Veterans Administration hospitals.

The VA along with other governmental and private sector employers openly discriminated against qualified black professionals until the late-1960s/early-1970s thus limiting blacks from income to improve their families.

Conservatives rarely if ever acknowledge the unearned benefits flowing to whites (especially those in the middle and upper classes) from America’s decades-long reign of legalized segregation.

“Racism is a tenacious evil,” civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated in a 1967 article published nine months before his assassination. This King observation is applicable to the political practice of candidates, mainly Republican, roiling race for electoral advantage.

King, in that article, also reminded “millions of underprivileged whites” of something they never hear from Republican GOP presidential candidates: white supremacy “can feed” egos but not stomachs. That factoid should resonate in today’s Recession ravished economy with high unemployment and rising rates of poverty.

Congressman Paul’s opposition to the creation of the January national holiday honoring Dr. King – a recognition Paul once castigated as hate whites day – is among the current criticism leveled against his presidential candidacy. Typical of America’s racism dance, Paul soft-shoes that opposition to ride electoral boosting rails among far-right-wing whites who still detest King.

There’s something unseemly about this ruckus over racist remarks playing out largely in America’s mainstream news media.

Much of the news media maintains segregated staffing practices just a few steps better than the campaign staffs assembled by the GOP presidential contenders where lack of diversity draws criticism from some black Republicans.

While coverage of the Iowa Caucuses consumed tons of newsprint, hours of broadcast time and data space on the internet mainstream news coverage rarely referenced the regressive fact that Iowa is one of only four states that permanently disenfranchises people with any felony convictions.

This disenfranchisement disproportionately impacts blacks who comprise 70% of the two million Americans nationwide permanently excluded from the democratic right to vote. (Disenfranchisement measures are rooted in racist laws against blacks approved in Deep South states following the Civil War.)

Discriminatory enforcement practices evident in the Drug War ensnaring innocent and guilty alike fuels the assembly line felony convictions producing permanent disenfranchisement. Yet, candidates and news coverage consign this abuse to ‘below-the-radar’ status.

In 1995 then GOP House Speak Newt Gingrich and then Democratic President Bill Clinton collaborated to crush a U.S. Sentencing Commission recommendation to end the racial abuses arising from federal crack cocaine laws.

That Clinton-Gingrich crack law collaboration, scuttling an effort to right race-tainted wrong, condemned thousands of non-whites to incarceration that was both unnecessary and expensive. Historically, bigotry in America is bi-partisan.

The saturation news coverage accorded the GOP presidential race further minimizes needed examination of many race-tinged electoral issues.

Those critical issues include the GOP’s nationwide vote suppression onslaught against minorities, the elderly and students (all presumed Democratic Party voters). A key weapon in that onslaught is enacting laws requiring government issued photo IDs to vote.

South Carolina, the site for the next GOP presidential primary, is expending state funds in an effort to beat back the U.S. Justice Department’s blocking implementation of SC’s new photo ID voter law.

The USJD cites South Carolina’s own statistics showing that ID law having damaging impacts on nearly 100,000 non-white voters as critical to its decision to block implementation of SC’s law.

The USJD is empowered under Voting Rights Act oversight provisions to block electoral measures that adversely impact minorities in South Carolina and other states with histories of discriminatory practices.

The Republicans controlling South Carolina’s state government happily spend taxpayer money to support voter suppression instead of using those resources to reduce that state having some of the nation’s highest levels of unemployment and rates of child poverty.

Current GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney recently termed the USJD’s protection of non-white voting rights in South Carolina a “very serious error” when addressing a predominately white gathering while campaigning in SC.

Neither Romney nor any of his GOP challengers, who endorse voter IDs to reduce possible voter fraud, found fault with the Iowa Caucuses not requiring any voter photo ID for participation.

Are Romney and his GOP presidential confederates contending conservative whites are immune from attempting voter fraud by virtue of their Republican registration and/or skin color?

A December 2011 NAACP report examining the GOP’s voter suppression onslaught nationwide listed numerous statistics backing the finding that evidence of voter fraud anywhere is historically lower than incidents of people being struck by lightning.

Bigoted banter is nothing new from Gingrich, Paul and Santorum.

Remember Gingrich and Santorum were paid commentators for FOX News before they began their presidential campaigns…the same FOX with a rancid record of routine race-baiting.

Gingrich, during a campaign stop, declared that he was prepared to attend the NAACP’s annual convention “to talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

Set aside for a moment that Gingrich has rejected past invitations from the NAACP to address their annual convention and the fact that more whites than blacks receive food stamps.

Gingrich, a man possessing a PhD and who taught history at a Georgia college, should know a little something about the century’s long struggle of blacks to obtain equitable opportunities to earn income.

A 1905 Declaration of Principles from a group whose leaders helped found the NAACP four years later criticized “the denial of equal opportunities to [blacks] in economic life” and stressed the duty of blacks “to work.”

Gingrich’s campaign proclamation that blacks shun paychecks and prefer receiving food stamps displays either disturbing ignorance or intellectual dishonesty.

Ignorance and dishonesty should disqualify any candidate from the Oval Office.

But in Sarah Palin perpetrated GOP-speak of disparaging intellect ignorance is now an electoral virtue. Palin popularized hating intellectual ‘elitism’ embodied by the Harvard Law educated President Obama.

Reveling in ignorance, Gingrich recently bashed opponent Mitt Romney for being bilingual – speaking French.

That Gingrich criticism is an embarrassing posture for an ex-professor who should know the limits on America’s growth in the global economy arising from America having one of the world’s lowest levels of citizens fluent in other languages.

Santorum also slung race-tainted mud with campaign mutterings about his desire to give blacks “the opportunity to go out and earn” money instead of his making the lives of blacks better by “giving them somebody else’s money…”

Surely Santorum, a self-styled scholar like Gingrich, knows that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while in Memphis, TN fighting for the rights of black workers – not blacks lazily wanting “somebody else’s” money without working.

The GOP, during the elected tenures of surviving presidential hopefuls Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Romney and Santorum, persistently opposes equal opportunity measures for minorities often employing the objectionable canard that all measures for remediating institutional racism maliciously discriminate against whites.

The racist rhetoric emanating from the GOP presidential campaign will increase without cease-&-desist demands from America’s body politic – a needed but unlikely but action.

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He lives in Philadelphia. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyon
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
Gareth Porter
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]