Are Trump & Republicans Willing to Die For the Right to Be Racist?
According to Trump & the GOP: teaching actual American history is “hating America.” Apparently, they believe the same is true of proposing a Black woman for the US Supreme Court...
Yesterday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became a Justice on the US Supreme Court; it was a truly historic moment, and she’ll take her seat this summer when Justice Breyer retires. But let’s not kid ourselves that passing this milestone is going to change much in America, at least short-term.
Apparently proud of their racism, every Republican except Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski refused to applaud Judge Jackson after yesterday’s vote and instead walked out of the Senate chamber.
The earlier and openly racist behavior of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee signaled that the GOP will continue full-steam-ahead with Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” that GHW Bush put on steroids with his Willy Horton ads and Trump announced he would run on for president by trashing “Mexicans.”
For the moment, the GOP is reaching out to Qanon, directing their most visible hatred at the LGBTQ community, but they’ll soon be back to their racist attacks; indeed, they’re ongoing at this moment.
Trump told his followers recently, for example, that they must prepare to die to stop public schools from teaching the history of slavery and Jim Crow.
“Getting critical race theory out of our schools is not just a matter of values, it’s also a matter of national survival,” Trump ranted.
“The fate of any nation,” he continued, “depends upon the willingness of its citizens to lay down – and they must do this – lay down their very lives to defend their country. If we allow the Marxists and communists and socialists to teach our children to hate America there will be no one left to defend our flag or to protect our great country or its freedom.”
Yes, you read that right: teaching actual American history is “hating America,” and Trump-humpers must prepare to die to stop it. Apparently, the same is true of proposing a Black woman for the US Supreme Court.
How very Confederate of the leader of the GOP. And it’s not just Trump.
Senator Roger Wicker of Louisiana apparently thinks there aren’t any Black women who are as smart and qualified as the white men out there who could be considered for a Supreme Court seat. He claims Biden’s pick of Ketanji Brown Jackson is “affirmative racial discrimination” and falsely suggests she’s “someone who is the beneficiary of this sort of quota.” And he voted against her taking a seat on the Supreme Court yesterday.
Fox’s Brian Kilmead says, “You’re poisoning these cities, and these towns, and these schools with people that [sic] don’t belong there.” Dark-skinned asylum-seekers and immigrants, in other words.
The high-visibility hyper-virulent militia-inspiring racism that’s erupting across white America today is ancient, but its current most visible incarnation of white-people-freak-out has its modern roots in the Hart-Cellar Act’s change to our immigration laws in 1965.
Prior to that, our immigration laws explicitly said that immigration must maintain the racial balance that the US had in 1921, which kept white people in the driver’s seat pretty much everywhere in the country.
Hart-Cellar ended that racial barrier to immigration, so we went from white Europeans/Canadians being 84 percent of all immigrants in 1960 to white European/Canadian immigrants being only 13.2 percent of all immigrants by 2017.
The result is that now, only 57 years later, fewer than half of all our children are white. Just search “white births” and the top hits are generally Nazi, white supremacist, or “conservative” sites complaining about this very reality.
This has absolutely freaked the holy hell out of white supremacists, and, in part, brought us Donald Trump and the current reactionary version of the Republican Party.
In one of the predictable (but at least nonviolent) responses, Texas Republicans have gerrymandering that state to largely eliminate congressional districts represented by non-white people. Other Republican-controlled states are following their lead.
Similarly, we learned that the white people who went to Washington, DC to try to overthrow our government on January 6th were far more likely to have come from counties where the white population is rapidly decreasing relative to people of color than from counties with stable racial makeups.
Our nation maintained strict racial segregation by law from its inception in 1789 until the 1960s. Thus, only in the past three generations have people of color shown up (outside of entertainment/sports) in any widespread and meaningful way in American positions of wealth, prestige, or political power.
Of the 115 people who’ve served on the Supreme Court since 1789, for example, only three were not white: Marshall, Thomas and Sotomayor. As America’s most conservative (in the literal meaning of the word) government institution, it has been the slowest to change.
White supremacists, Republican legislators, and “conservative” commentators have largely reacted to Judge Jackson’s elevation to the Supreme Court by arguing that people of color represent a threat to the wealth and power white people once unilaterally kept to themselves by law.
Like Tucker Carlson whining about Biden saying he was going to pick a Black woman for the Court. “As long as we are giving up the spoils like carrot cake,” Carlson said, “where’s my slice?”
In that, they’re appealing to the “safety” instinct by promoting the belief that people of color — particularly African Americans — represent a “threat.” This belief, reinforced by centuries of literature and entertainment that portrayed Blacks in a negative light, is deeply entrenched in America’s white population, particularly in mostly white-only rural areas, the GOP’s current stronghold.
Groups that hold power or positions of status above others typically only enter a power-sharing agreement after coming to realize through personal experience that there’s no threat to them in that kind of pluralism.
From Harry Truman ordering the military integrated in 1948 to today, we’ve seen an increasingly multi-hued nation and greater diversity across both the media and within public and private sector workplaces.
The most rigid institutions — senior management of giant corporations that control the ability to acquire great wealth and members of the Supreme Court — have been the laggards, but things are moving in the right direction (albeit far too slowly) even at that level.
Compared to the 1950s and 60s, or even Reagan’s 1980s, many white people in America have readjusted their understanding of “threat”: now, instead of the “dangerous” minorities who once made up many movie and TV “bad guys,” they see danger coming from white guys wearing MAGA hats and flying black “I’ll kill you for your politics” flags.
As the power positions of society become more racially integrated (while enduring screams from Republicans and rightwing hate media), safety is slowly but surely becoming enhanced for people of all races.
Killer cops are being called out and leaving policing, politicians who use racial dog-whistles to win campaigns are finding the strategy doesn’t work as well as it did for Trump, and this summer the Supreme Court will have its first Black woman on the bench.
In the moment these changes seem small and incremental, but when viewed in a 50-or 70-year lens, you realize how significant they are.
This is not even remotely to suggest that everything is now “good.”
Our society is going through a transitional period and minorities of all sort — from religious to gender identity to race — are daily under often-deadly assault from freaked-out straight white people, particularly cis white men.
And it’s still possible that the dead-enders who want a race war or believe it inevitable could turn our nation on its head. White supremacist books like The Turner Diaries and Camp of the Saints continue to animate Mein Kampf-like followings, and the modern American version of the 1940s Nazis are bolder every day.
But their Dear Leader Trump tried his best to destroy the ideal of a multiracial pluralistic America, and so far he’s failed.
Our political immune system appears to be kicking into action. The Trump movement is dying and his power slips away more every day.
Trump’s racist movement looks like it’ll end up being a few crazed killers and hopped-up bigots spray-painting swastikas on buildings and gravestones, and tiny true-believer crowds showing up to buy overpriced swag at his limp rallies.
Even his attempt at his recent rally in Texas — where he labeled as “racists” the two Black female prosecutors in NY and GA who are, so far, the only people in America to seriously contemplate prosecuting him — has fallen flat.
America has largely figured out Trump’s racist shtick (remember, his assertion in 2008 that Obama wasn’t a “natural born citizen” is what brought him to national prominence with his “birther” movement) and he and his grifter family will never again hold the kind of power they once did in this nation.
There’s still a potent — and in some parts of America, evangelizing — white supremacist movement that’s willing and able to use deadly violence that long predates Trump, but increasingly they’re being both identified and ostracized in our society.
That said, reality is still problematic.
Being stopped by the police is still a potential death sentence for Black people in most of America, even as our cultural and legal system is finally starting to seriously take on that, too. It “only” took several million BLM protesters in the streets for months, and a dozens of well-publicized murders of unarmed Black people by police, to wake white people up, but it seems to have had a substantial affect.
If the march toward racial diversity and gender equity that Republicans so oppose continues, the safety and security of all Americans is enhanced.
And make no mistake: putting a Black woman on the US Supreme Court is a major, meteoric event in the process (which is why it’s engendering so much opposition from the white supremacists, particularly those in the Senate).
Ever since the end of the Civil War, Americans of good will have hoped “the next generation” will end the curse of racism in this nation. The generation coming up right now appears to give us the greatest hope that this goal may finally be within sight.
Step by step, this is the path to fulfilling the paradigm our nation’s Founders — about half of them forward-looking abolitionists — held up for the world to see 246 years ago.
“Critical Race Theory” rants from dead-ender racist Republicans and Trump notwithstanding, a new generation is waking up in America. And they see with clear eyes the cheap shallowness of the racism Republicans and their hate media have been openly promoting for generations.
Trump will continue to call for white Americans to “lay down their lives” to stop teaching young people the actual history of this nation, and he’ll always find hateful racists and rightwing demagogues to stand with him.
But their day is fading.