Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Racism and the Right

White Backlash and the Right
Submitted by David Neiwert on December 4, 2007 - 7:08pm.

Recently the New York Times carried a report on the "noose incidents" that have been occurring with rising frequency around the country, inspired seemingly by the protests over the "Jena 6" case.

The report came complete with a graphic showing where the incidents have occurred. Remarkably, it isn't just happening in the South: the incidents are also being reported in places like Minneapolis; Cicero, Ill.; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Newark; Baltimore; and New London, Conn.

Equally striking was the analysis from Mark Potok, the SPLC's Intelligence Project director, who wrote:

These incidents are worrying, but even more so is the social reality they reflect. The level of hate crimes in the United States is astoundingly high — more than 190,000 incidents per year, according to a 2005 Department of Justice study.

And the number of hate groups, according to the annual count by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has shot up 40 percent in recent years, from 602 groups in 2000 to 844 in 2006.

It seems that the September rally in Jena — much as it was seen by many civil rights activists as the beginning of a new social movement — signaled not a renewed march toward racial and social justice, but a surprisingly broad and deep white backlash against the gains of black America.

Indeed, as Digby observes, "The racist beast is clamoring to be set free." The old once again is new: there's a "new racism" that pretends to be daring new thinking, dashing the molds of political correctness, but really is just the same old shit recycled. And it's not even relegated strictly to the right: Witness, for the most recent example, William Saletan's sally into the rancid fields of eugenics.

That this is happening is acutely clear for African Americans, historically the chief victims of racist hate in America, as the noose episodes suggest. But it's also becoming true on a broader scale as well, with a rising tide of openly espoused ethnic bigotry manifesting itself in myriad ways, particularly on the immigration front, where Latinos are increasingly targeted by rhetoric emanating from the very highest levels of Republican leadership that manifests itself in a tide of hate crimes; and in the "war on terror," which has provided for an opening for a variety of right-wing figures to spew hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric, with similarly predictable consequences.

One kind of hate feeds another; one open expression of bigotry without significant consequence only provides permission for many more to follow, and the inherent violence of such talk inevitably gives permission for people to act it out. Thus this shifting social tide has, just as predictably, brought the broader result of a significant increase in bias crimes of all kinds across the country.

And the breadth of the tide also tells us that this is not really about blacks or Latinos or Muslims specifically, but is about the people who fear and despise them: white people. It's about defending white privilege.

And there has been one primary driver for this gravitational shift: generically, the conservative movement, and specifically, its wholly owned subsidiary, the Republican Party.

You can hear the push to defend "white culture" from nearly every sector of the right, from Bill O'Reilly:

But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right.

To Patrick Buchanan:

I think America may exist, but I'll tell you this: I do believe we're going to lose the American Southwest. I think it is almost inevitable. If we do not put a fence on that border ... you're going to have 100 million Hispanics in the country, most of them new immigrants from Mexico, which believes that belongs to them. What's going to happen to us, Sean, in my judgment, is what is happening right now: We are Balkanizing. We are dividing and separating from one another politically, morally -- on issues like abortion or Terri Schiavo -- racially and ethnically, when you get Jena and then you get Don Imus, and all of these things ripping us apart. All the things that used to pull us together and hold us together no longer do.

To Michael Savage:
But basically, if you're talking about a day like today, Martin Luther King Junior Day, and you're gonna understand what civil rights has become, the con it's become in this country. It's a whole industry; it's a racket. It's a racket that is used to exploit primarily heterosexual, Christian, white males' birthright and steal from them what is their birthright and give it to people who didn't qualify for it.

This is nothing new, of course. The defense of white privilege has been a cornerstone of the GOP's electoral appeal ever since the its ardent adoption of the Southern Strategy, dating back to Goldwater and Nixon and continiuing through the Reagan and Bush years. Even Republican strategists acknowledge this to be the case.

Joseph Aistrup, in his book The Southern Strategy Revisited: Republican Top-Down Advancement in the South -- a text written primarily to influence GOP politicos -- observes the following:

When a GOP presidential candidate’s campaign strategy emphasizes racially conservative appeals, he identifies not only himself but his party as the one that protects white interests. The identification of the GOP, instead of the Southern Democrats, as the protector of white interests, combined with the large infusion of blacks into the Southern Democratic parties, opens the door for Southern whites to abandon their historic ties to the Democrats.
It's critical to understand, however, that the Southern Strategy wasn't geared simply toward winning votes in the South -- it also is aimed at white suburbs and rural areas where the defense of white society remains a significant cultural issue. Its reach ran well beyond the South.


One way of seeing this clearly is by examining the history of "sundown towns". As James Loewen details (excruciatingly) in his study Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, there are literally thousands of towns across America -- relatively few of them in the South -- who for much of the 20th century forbade minorities, blacks especially, from living within their communities. Many of them placed signs at the town limits warning "Whites Only After Dark" or "Nigger, Don't Let the Sun Set on You Here" -- that all nonwhites were to be out of town by sundown. In many cases, especially suburbs, no signs were visible, but all-white covenants provided the same effect.

Most of the "sundown towns" and "sundown suburbs" that Loewen documents were in the Northeast, the Midwest and West -- the same places where we're seeing "noose incidents," as well as attempts to pass laws aimed at driving out Latinos.

These same "sundown towns" have, unsurprisingly, a history of following racial election appeals, including broad support for George Wallace in 1968, and Republican presidential candidates in the ensuing years, all of whom made use of the Southern Strategy's core appeal to white racial interests. As Loewen notes:

As a result of such leadership, Republicans have carried most sundown towns since 1968, sometimes achieving startling unaninimity. ... So the "southern strategy" turned out to be a "southern and sundown town strategy," especially in sundown suburbs. Macomb County, for example, the next county north of Detroit, voted overwhelmingly for Wallace in the 1972 Democratic primary. Wooed by Nixon, many of these voters then became "Reagan Democrats" and now are plain Republicans. The biggest single reason, according to housing attorney Alexander Polikoff, was anxiety about "blacks trapped in ghettos trying to penetrate white neighborhoods." [pp.372-373]

Take a look at where the nooses are appearing, where the anti-Latino and anti-Muslim hate crimes are occurring. If you look through the incidents, it's clear that many of them are occurring in precincts that, historically, were all-white by design.

It's part of the continuing defense of that status quo in those communities that engenders so much of the nation's current racial divide -- with bias crimes, as always the on-the-ground manifestation.

I know that Democrats have been tempted to try to tap into this tide to their short-term electoral advantage; witness Rahm Emanuel and Co.'s attempts to advance an immigration plan that's absurdly enforcement-heavy and reform-light.Before they take that step, they need to stop and think about the consequences. Not just the electoral calculus, considering what it would cost Democrats in terms of the votes of blacks, Latinos, and Muslims who are flocking to them now because of the GOP's increasingly inchoate bigotry, but the real-life results. They need to think about those nooses, and where they come from, and simply do what is right.

7 comments:

Malcolm B said...

This article brings up some very interesting points, things we don’t like to think about anymore. I hate to think about racism, I thought it was a thing of the past really, and I have pretty much no race consciousness, but apparently things are still a problem. We should promote non-racism, I think, but I am going to play devil’s advocate for a little bit and look at it through the perspective of the white GOP voter. I can see how the thought of losing white culture, my culture, could be pretty scary. If it becomes unacceptable to live like we do now, I can see how some fearful individuals would vote for the GOP. However, that culture is principally an abusive and domineering one. We, the whites, have to realize we are not gods. National policy does not need to be what is most convenient to us; policy needs to be what is right… right? The author says it right when he says, about what the Dems should do, “They need to think about those nooses, and where they come from, and simply do what is right.” Simply do what is right. We, the whites, need to give up our stranglehold on the rest of the people in this country, realize that our culture is not going to disappear, just have a few new faces, and simply do what is right. As a white Christian liberal, I see what we need to do plain as day, we need to love our fellow man, we need to care for the “orphan and the widow.” I feel I find more of Jesus’ way as an America liberal than I would as an American conservative. Studying both political theory and the bible harder than ever have made me come to realize this (though I never was a conservative).

John said...

Racism and the Right

White Backlash and the Right
As I see it, most of these incidents have occurred and quickly have made the news. Documentation and talks about these incidents have made the media and as I see it, no deliberate affirmative or corrective action is taken. As expressed throughout this report the Jena 6 incident have caused many civil rights and race violations throughout the nation, not just in the south. As corrective actions was taken against such violations, a backlash against Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other foreign people.

More than 190,000 incidents per year, to nearly everyone insignificant, to me, one would have been too much. In my opinion there is a few Americans that talk about white superiority and purity as a way of life, as quotes like this state” They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure” are talked about and appear in this type of reports. I thought we were all Americans; diverse ethnic groups melting together in this portion of North America we all know as the United States of America.
As Americans, sentiment towards what negativity of bigotry and white supremacy conveys is felt; we must with sadness say, small or no progress has developed from the civil rights struggles and movements. Challenges still abound concerning racial equality and conformity. African-Americans, Hispanics and other foreigners according to white America (foreigners) must walk a thin line. Today repercussion and intimidation with “racial noose suggestion” have made it back unto the public light. A shameful withdrawal from impartiality.

Moreover, for some reason a handful of politicians we voted on to office to represent and fight for our rights have turned their backs on the American public. They have sided with those who believe there is only a white America, they in many indirect words have spoken against ethnicity against the purity of a white society. The problem lies there; how could we change the current situation of race and inequality in America when some of our public servants sworn to upheld civil rights are support or encouraging the white backlash developing in our nation lately.

Racism and the right is the hope of those who see America as a white society; I see America as a diverse ethically enriched society with short and long-term goals; a short-term goal is one of cultural equality and opportunities. A long term-goal is peace and harmony among an ethnically diverse group.

Anonymous said...

Racism is still very much a part of American society. People tend to think that racism just flows one way…towards the blacks. This however is not true. Racism goes more than one way; blacks are racist against whites; whites are racist against blacks; then there are the other cultures or minorities that everybody tends to be racial against.
Martin Luther King Jr. was actual a black man that was racist against whites. In a way he wanted things to be equal, but really he just wanted blacks to be the stronger race. He wasn’t enslaved and technically the whites didn’t owe him anything just as the white population doesn’t owe the black population anything today.
People think I am crazy when I say that blacks discriminate and are racist against whites but they are; and I have first hand knowledge of this. In Columbus, Ohio I worked at Waffle House as a server and I was sent to a different store to fill in for a couple of days and it was night shift so there was only one server and one cook. It was an all black neighborhood and the cook and I were both white. A black customer came in and I went to wait on her and she told me she didn’t want me to wait on her because I was white and that she didn’t want the cook to cook her food either because he was white. This customer thought we were bad people just because we were white.
Racism will continue until the end of days and quite frankly blacks need to get over it and realize that the white population today does not owe them anything.

Mumia Abu-Jamal said...

I have felt like this about the republican party since i can remember keeping up with politics. the article highlights how conservative politics and policies have led to the defense of the white American culture. this sense of racial fear leads to intense oppression. from the evidence presented in this article it seems as if there is a type of neo-racism taking hold in the United States. the statistic of the growth of hate groups by 40% just drives me insane. we are taught of how our society has come so far in the field of human rights. ever since 1992 and the rodney king beatings i felt like that wasn't the case. such blatant racism is everywhere. the right wing is trying to preserve the idea of "white america." i also think responses by "anonymous" are tpart of the problem. saying that the white poulation owes the black popualtion nothing is a racist comment in itself. the white population is the ruling race, that can then be broken down into ruling classes. as humans we owe alot to our fellow human. we owe them equal rights, freedom from persecution, the ability to not have their ass kicked by cops that walk free. racism pisses me off and telling them to "get over" is racist in itself. this is why i hate american culture. we are arrogant and bull headed. people are people... racism makes no sense to me.

Dallas H said...

I think Neiwart brings up some really good points about he GOP’s hidden racist tendencies. When conservatives talk about defending “white culture” they are immediately engaging in racism. Why do you have to defend “white culture” anyway? I don’t see any plans designed by minorities who want to take over American culture. The only individuals concerned with control of American culture are a minority of lunatics who love to appear all over FOX News. The best thing that white Americans can do is welcome differences and realize that are strength as a nation stems from our diversity. We still are a beacon of hope to millions of people around the world who yearn for a better life in America. We as white Americans must stop those that want to pass discriminatory laws against immigrants and stop allowing hate to prosper in our culture.

sara early said...

Until reading this, I didn't really realize that hate groups were still as horrible and prevalent today. It makes me sick. People should get over themselves, and over stupid differences in skin color, or upbringing. Everyone should go to college. I think it makes people open their eyes and see things in a more liberal way.

DavidB said...

To respnd to this article i first want to point out the fact of the fualt of the media in the noose cases. Each small instence where this dumb act is being committed gets so much media coverage that i feel after watching about an hour of it i feel it must be a problem. When in reality its not. Its a stupid, ignorant, and horrible thing to do but people have to realize that this could be solved if just left alone. No more coverage and attention towards the acts then no more incidents. If we are expected to attack the racial injustices in this country lets start with something a bit more significant like equality in the work place or trying to get african american women out of the poverty classes. And as for the "hate groups" to see them as a legitamate threat is obserd. These are groups of idots who think they are a threat and your only enforcing them further by establishing them as a threat. As for the rise in numbers of hate groups don't be alarmed they usually don't last long as these morons lost intrest yet again if the media continues to fuel the fire its gonna be harder to rid these idiots once and for all.