Good Ole Southern Boys

In today’s Washington Post, Harold Meyerson takes on the GOP’s “hostility toward minorities, exploitation of racism, antipathy toward government and suspicion of science.” “In modern GOP, the Old South Returns,” Meyerson notes the sad irony that the party of the anti-slavery North has come to represent the most base elements of what was, at one time, the Democrat’s southern strategy.

It’s not just their unjust claims about Obama being a “welfare” president or their use of coded language such as “food stamps,” “welfare,” “welfare queen,” and “takers, but also, as Meyerson writes, their focus on illegal immigration and anti-science declarations:

Republicans have passed draconian anti-immigrant laws and opposed legislation enabling immigrants brought here as children to gain legal status.

. . .

The ghosts of Dixie — of the Scopes Trail  and the underfunding of public education — also pop up in Republicans’ willful resistance to science and, more broadly, simple empiricism. Global warming? Evolution? Homosexuality’s causation? How babies get made? Find a robust scientific conclusion and you can find a significant number of Republicans — adducing pseudo-science and faith — who oppose it.

Meyerson suggests this “southernization” of the GOP coincides with the election of our nation’s first black president and our nation’s “transformation from a majority-white nation to a multiracial country no longer destined to remain the world’s hegemon.” I agree. This and the seemingly endless recession have somehow enabled the utterance of racist sentiment. It’s now acceptable to question the President’s Americaness because he is black. Surely he can’t have been born here, and worse, he’s committed treason, made us a socialist country, and emboldened Muslims, blah, blah, blah.

As I write, I can’t help but wonder about the standing ovation former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received at the RNC last night when she said

And on a personal note, a little girl grows up in Jim Crow
Birmingham.  The segregated city of the south where her parents cannot take her to a movie theater or to restaurants, but they have convinced that even if she cannot have it hamburger at Woolworths, she can be the president of the United States if she wanted to be, and she becomes the secretary of state.

This reminder of Jim Crow, of separate but not equal, of the Birmingham marches, the battle over civil rights seems to have escaped most of those in attendance last night. Aside from parentage, age and gender, Rice’s story isn’t all that different from the man they’ve demonized.

Fox New’s writer Keith Ablow’s glowing account of Rice’s speech gives credence to my and Meyerson’s concerns. Ablow writes

Ms. Rice literally transcends all boundaries of race, gender and socioeconomic status.  She is feminine, but strong.  She is approachable and warm, yet possessed of an iron will.

She comes from humble beginnings, which she honors, yet has attained success no one would deny her.  She is a black American who seems to bear no ill-will toward white Americans.  She is a former Democrat turned Republican.  She is not old and not young.

Very few people who listened to her on Wednesday night would posit that she harbors hatred toward anyone or any group.

Again we find the racist memes: Obama hates America, hates white people and is a socialist.

Raise the Confederate flag. If the GOP has its way, it’s the flag that will most represent the attitudes of those in charge.

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One Response to Good Ole Southern Boys

  1. Doc says:

    Wow. Like the contrast in the way Rice is received among Rethugs, as though her story is somehow different from Obama’s. It is different, of course, in some respects: she was brought up by relatively wealthy parents who paid for enough piano lessons that she could become a concert-caliber pianist. I wonder if she ever took advantage of affirmative action, as Obama did–she must have, because in the heyday of AffAction talented young black people were nearly always able to get into better schools–for a change. Did she ever make the equivalent of Harvard Law Review? Surely, she was not an affirmative action hire at Stanford, because of course her case is entirely different from Obama’s, because she is a Republican. IOW, IOKIYAR.

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