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Is the GOP Sincere in Denouncing its Bigots?

Posted by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 2:15 AM
  • 12 Replies



In a week’s time the wide range of what was once considered routine GOP bigotry was on full display. Dave Agema, a former West Michigan state representative, and Republican National Committeeman called gays “filthy homosexuals." Next, Alaska Rep. Don Young blurted out the epitaph “wetbacks” in discussing the immigration issue. Then 23 members of the so-called White Student Union attended the Conservative Political Action Conference where its leader tacitly endorsed segregation and even slavery.

In times past, the silence from the GOP officials and rank and file would have been deafening. It would have reconfirmed the standard knock against the GOP as a party of Kooks, cranks misanthropes, and, of course, bigots. But in each of the three cases, there was an outcry from local GOP officials, bloggers, and GOP campus groups. They publicly denounced the bigotry, and in the case of Young, House Speaker John Boehner, Arizona and Texas Senators John McCain, and John Cornyn, and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus blasted Young’s remarks.

At first glance, this seems a signal that the GOP recognizes that it’s widely considered the party of bigotry, and that it’s willing to do something about it. But the sea change may be much less than meets the eye. Many top GOP officials are still mute on its party’s bigots. The official record still stands that no top GOP official aggressively and consistently denounces the bigoted remarks or acts by a GOP operative, representative, or senator.

The RNC in its near 100 page blueprint for reaching out to minorities, gays and young people did raise faint hope that the GOP may indeed have finally woke up that America is changing, and it can’t win national offices anymore solely with conservative white male Heartland and Deep South voters, or through the use of the crude race baiting. But this hope ignores the GOP’s horrible history of dealing with its blatant bigots and bigotry. The pattern was on ugly display in 2002 when then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott touched off a furor seemingly touting the one time pro-segregation battles fought by South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond. It took nearly a week for then President George W. Bush to make a stumbling, tepid disavowal of Lott.

In the next decade, a legion of Republican state and local officials, conservative talk show jocks and even some Republican bigwigs made foot-in-mouth racist cracks that invariably got them in hot water. Their response when called on the carpet was always the same: They make a duck and dodge denial, claim that they were misquoted or issue a weak, half-hearted apology. Each time, the response from top Republicans was either silence, or if the firestorm was great enough, to give the offender a much-delayed mild verbal hand slap. Lott was dumped from his Senate Majority Leader post, but soon got a top post back as Senate Minority Whip after a kind of, sort of mea culpa.

The bigger dilemma for the GOP when the bigots of their party pop off is that they remain prisoners of their party's racist past. It’s a past in which Republican presidents set the tone with their own verbal race bashing. President Eisenhower never got out of the Old South habit of calling blacks "nigras."

In an infamous and well-documented outburst at a White House dinner party in 1954, Ike winked, nodded and whispered to Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren that he understood why white Southerners wouldn't want to "see their sweet little girls required to sit in school alongside some big black buck."

President Nixon routinely peppered his talks with his confidants with derogatory quips about blacks. He enshrined in popular language racially tinged code words such as, "law and order, "permissive society," "welfare cheats," "crime in the streets," "subculture of violence," "subculture of poverty," "culturally deprived" and "lack of family values." And President Reagan once told a black reporter how he would treat black leaders, saying, "I said to hell with 'em."

In 1988, President Bush, Sr. made escaped black convict Willie Horton the poster boy for black crime and violence and turned the presidential campaign against his Democrat opponent, Michael Dukakis into a rout. He branded a bill by Senator Ted Kennedy to make it easier to bring employment discrimination suits a "quotas bill" and vetoed it.

The sentiment that underlay the casual, and sometimes blatant, racist trash talk of top Republicans, even Republican presidents, inevitably percolated down to the troops. If GOP minor players feel that they can say whatever they want about blacks, Latinos, gays and women and get away with it, it's because other Republicans have done the same, and there were no real consequences for their vile remarks.

There are many Republicans who don't utter racist or homophobic epithets, use code speak, or publicly denigrate minorities, gays and women. Yet Colin Powell recently took much heat from many Republicans when he called the GOP racist. This still makes it a good bet that the next public official or personality hammered for a bigoted outburst will be a Republican. It's also an equally good bet that few top Republicans will immediately rush to condemn their GOP compatriot for it.



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by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 2:15 AM
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Replies (1-10):
jllcali
by Jane on Apr. 8, 2013 at 2:50 AM
5 moms liked this
Nothing good will come of this post. The right will complain they are being maligned by this left sided opinion piece, then call the left bigots. The left will come in and says that the right has more bigots. And it will go back and forth and back and forth. All that will happen is someone will probably get hurt feelers.

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Healthystart30
by Silver Member on Apr. 8, 2013 at 3:42 AM
Maybe they don't want to rock the boat because many of their voters feel the same way! Apparently they have realized that times are changing and most of us don't!
Carpy
by Ruby Member on Apr. 8, 2013 at 5:54 AM
2 moms liked this

Apparently more so than the democrats, since they admit they have them.

AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Apr. 8, 2013 at 9:10 AM
1 mom liked this
I'm not defending ike's racism but I do want to say that while we, sixty plus years later, know that the term nigras is racist and disgusting, it us unfair to say that the words in common usage at the time are the things that make a person a racist. My grandmother used that term until she died but she was also vilified where she lived for treating black people as human beings and even letting them come into the house through the front door instead of treating them all like servants. Just because she didn't follow the multiple changes in race term identifiers that have occurred since the forties, doesn't make her an automatic racist. It makes her old and a product of another time.
It's unfair to judge people solely on the terms and mores of a time they don't even live in. That said, ike still said some reprehensible things but wasn't he the one who desegregated the military. That action alone forced many Americans who would have otherwise never seen someone of another race to see that Americans are Americans and every marine (etc) is a brother to every marine no matter what seems to be different.

ETA: I fully accept the probability that ike didn't desegregate the military. Was it Truman? I was sure it was done well before Vietnam and Kennedy.
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coolmommy2x
by Gold Member on Apr. 8, 2013 at 9:16 AM
I remember nearing about Willie Horton all the time during that election.

As I always say...actions speak louder than words (on both sides).
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Donna6503
by Platinum Member on Apr. 8, 2013 at 9:33 AM

In all fairness; Hutchinson using very disputed examples to prove his point. Hutchinson basically has made a living just calling things racists. While, I'll agree with him; in general, on this issues, I do feel he is a bit touch overboard here.

SuperChicken
by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 9:34 AM
2 moms liked this

I think the GOP is a victim of it's own words and behaviors.  At the same time, I lose respect for those Democrats who pretend they are innocent of any biases themselves while pointing fingers.     Both parties are pretty much the same, and the quicker we all figure that out the better off we'll be.

lga1965
by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 9:41 AM
I never heard anyone in my family or any friends use the word "nigra". Ewww. I was born in the 40's. Maybe it's more of a southern thing ?Ike was from Texas. We're from MN.

Quoting AdrianneHill:

I'm not defending ike's racism but I do want to say that while we, sixty plus years later, know that the term nigras is racist and disgusting, it us unfair to say that the words in common usage at the time are the things that make a person a racist. My grandmother used that term until she died but she was also vilified where she lived for treating black people as human beings and even letting them come into the house through the front door instead of treating them all like servants. Just because she didn't follow the multiple changes in race term identifiers that have occurred since the forties, doesn't make her an automatic racist. It makes her old and a product of another time.

It's unfair to judge people solely on the terms and mores of a time they don't even live in. That said, ike still said some reprehensible things but wasn't he the one who desegregated the military. That action alone forced many Americans who would have otherwise never seen someone of another race to see that Americans are Americans and every marine (etc) is a brother to every marine no matter what seems to be different.



ETA: I fully accept the probability that ike didn't desegregate the military. Was it Truman? I was sure it was done well before Vietnam and Kennedy.
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AdrianneHill
by Platinum Member on Apr. 8, 2013 at 10:19 AM
My grandmother was born in 1910 in the Georgia mountains. It was very different.
Not to be rude but how many people of color were seen in MN at that time? The terms have changed multiple times; nigra (or negro out of the south) was the non racist n word as hard as that seems to believe if you didn't want to use colored which was considered a Yankee term. Negro became colored which became afro American then black then African American and you can almost tell the decade something was written by the adjectives used. It is disingenuous to claim something as fluid as oft changing terminology is the deciding factor on whether or not someone is a racist or even being distasteful.

To remind people how much things of changed, my other grandmother was a war bride from England and had tremendous culture shock going from a middle class life in London to a backwoods, Blue Ridge south carolina. As backwoods and backwards as it was, my grandmother stopped traffic when she went into the general store and asked for a bolt of fabric in a color known all over the British realm as N word Brown. One of my aunts had to take her aside and say that might be a daily term in England but in backwoods SC, it could get your house burned down or at the very least give people the wrong idea about the type of person you were.


Quoting lga1965:

I never heard anyone in my family or any friends use the word "nigra". Ewww. I was born in the 40's. Maybe it's more of a southern thing ?Ike was from Texas. We're from MN.



Quoting AdrianneHill:

I'm not defending ike's racism but I do want to say that while we, sixty plus years later, know that the term nigras is racist and disgusting, it us unfair to say that the words in common usage at the time are the things that make a person a racist. My grandmother used that term until she died but she was also vilified where she lived for treating black people as human beings and even letting them come into the house through the front door instead of treating them all like servants. Just because she didn't follow the multiple changes in race term identifiers that have occurred since the forties, doesn't make her an automatic racist. It makes her old and a product of another time.


It's unfair to judge people solely on the terms and mores of a time they don't even live in. That said, ike still said some reprehensible things but wasn't he the one who desegregated the military. That action alone forced many Americans who would have otherwise never seen someone of another race to see that Americans are Americans and every marine (etc) is a brother to every marine no matter what seems to be different.





ETA: I fully accept the probability that ike didn't desegregate the military. Was it Truman? I was sure it was done well before Vietnam and Kennedy.
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lga1965
by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Minnesota had millions of blacks when I was a kid. But they were called NEGROS, not nigras. Then, after a decade it became blacks.
We have different ways of expressing ourselves,I guess.
My grandma was born in 1873 and quite Liberal and in favor of equality.


Quoting AdrianneHill:

My grandmother was born in 1910 in the Georgia mountains. It was very different.

Not to be rude but how many people of color were seen in MN at that time? The terms have changed multiple times; nigra (or negro out of the south) was the non racist n word as hard as that seems to believe if you didn't want to use colored which was considered a Yankee term. Negro became colored which became afro American then black then African American and you can almost tell the decade something was written by the adjectives used. It is disingenuous to claim something as fluid as oft changing terminology is the deciding factor on whether or not someone is a racist or even being distasteful.



To remind people how much things of changed, my other grandmother was a war bride from England and had tremendous culture shock going from a middle class life in London to a backwoods, Blue Ridge south carolina. As backwoods and backwards as it was, my grandmother stopped traffic when she went into the general store and asked for a bolt of fabric in a color known all over the British realm as N word Brown. One of my aunts had to take her aside and say that might be a daily term in England but in backwoods SC, it could get your house burned down or at the very least give people the wrong idea about the type of person you were.




Quoting lga1965:

I never heard anyone in my family or any friends use the word "nigra". Ewww. I was born in the 40's. Maybe it's more of a southern thing ?Ike was from Texas. We're from MN.





Quoting AdrianneHill:

I'm not defending ike's racism but I do want to say that while we, sixty plus years later, know that the term nigras is racist and disgusting, it us unfair to say that the words in common usage at the time are the things that make a person a racist. My grandmother used that term until she died but she was also vilified where she lived for treating black people as human beings and even letting them come into the house through the front door instead of treating them all like servants. Just because she didn't follow the multiple changes in race term identifiers that have occurred since the forties, doesn't make her an automatic racist. It makes her old and a product of another time.



It's unfair to judge people solely on the terms and mores of a time they don't even live in. That said, ike still said some reprehensible things but wasn't he the one who desegregated the military. That action alone forced many Americans who would have otherwise never seen someone of another race to see that Americans are Americans and every marine (etc) is a brother to every marine no matter what seems to be different.







ETA: I fully accept the probability that ike didn't desegregate the military. Was it Truman? I was sure it was done well before Vietnam and Kennedy.
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