How the GOP Nearly Became the Anti-Racist Party

August 26, 2020

There was a moment in time (not too long ago in my life) when the political party of off-the-cuff intolerance, misogyny, homophobia, White supremacy, unbridled capitalism and perpetual lowering of taxes for the wealthy seemed verged to become the party of just unbridled capitalism and perpetual lowering of taxes for the wealthy, with a smattering of homophobia and misogyny.

The year was 2002. Trent Lott, the powerful Republican senate majority leader, had praised fellow sitting Mississippi Republican senator Strom Thurmond at Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. Thurmond had won Mississippi in his 1948 run for president as a segregationist. Lott’s exact words were, “We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either.”

Lott had actually said pretty much the same thing in 1980, but back then he experienced no pushback. In 2002, things were different. In 2002, President Bush, a fellow Republican, condemned the remarks. Trott went on a TV apology tour, most notably to BET. Nobody was publicly supporting Lott. He was forced to step down from his position as Majority Leader. He resigned from the Senate in 2007.

And I was like, “Oh my God. What if the Republican Party is going to become a fiscally conservative party that doesn’t tolerate, let alone promote, racism?” Of course, that didn’t happen and instead we have President Stephen Miller, er, Trump. Now, if anyone criticized a politician for racism, Fox News would call it “cancel culture.” But for a brief moment, it seemed like a distinct possibility, which would have shifted the political landscape of the nation dramatically.

The fact that the Republican Party came to embrace racism to begin with was a fluke of history that didn’t have to be. The Party only solidified its identity as the protector of White men afraid of losing power in Nixon’s 1960 presidential run against Kennedy. Martin Luther King Jr.’s father appreciated that Kennedy had called Coretta Scott King to express his sympathy while her husband, MLK Jr., was jailed in Georgia. The influential pastor, King Sr., switched his party allegiance from Republican to Democratic and supported Kennedy. Nixon’s Republican Party chose the other route. It embraced the Southern Strategy, courting segregationists and positioning itself in opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. After that followed decades of entrenchment, with the Republicans ceding the politics of human rights to the Democrats and, eventually, in 2016, giving up on any effort to court voters who were other than White.

The Lott affair did not occur in a vacuum. The country was poised at a possible inflection point on race. I remember several politicians having to apologize around that time for casual racist statements. This was in the wake of the intense tide of racism and state terror against Muslims and people from the Middle East after 9/11. Issues of bigotry and stereotyping were heightened in public discourse. 

The Republican Party did not choose a path which would have benefitted them as the country’s demographics continued to challenge White dominance. Instead, they clutched their pearls in their comfort zone, and doomed us all to a party who’s only chance of maintaining control is through gerrymandering and other blatant efforts to disenfranchise growing numbers of people. 

But for a minute, just a minute, the portal to an alternate universe was opened.


More There Should Bes

January 20, 2015

Daisybrain endeavors to provide the world with practical suggestions for its own improvement. We’ve done it here, here and here, to link to a few. We have taken the fact that the world has ignored our suggestions as a plea for even more. So, here ya go:

  1. There should be an ambulance service for pets.
  2. There should be an app that delivers a mild electrical shock to people every time they say something racist, homophobic, sexist, etc…. Feedback without humiliation.
  3. There should be Smart Toilets that adjust volume of flush according to mass of contents and include an interior bowl ventilation system that sucks odors down and away.
  4. There should be Heated Winter Clothes that sense local skin temperature (feet, arms, etc,) and adjust heating accordingly.
  5. There should be interactive TV/Web shows where you get to choose how an episode proceeds. You would be given possibilities for a character to choose different actions and then see how the choice would play out. Does she choose to become a vampire? Do they move to LA? Should she ask her out?

And now for something completely different (probably).

Click this flower to go to a random post from the Daisybrain universe:

dasy1


The Persistence of Stereotypes

February 5, 2013

woman-in-boxLike all of culture, stereotypes have to be learned. But once they are, they are extremely difficult to purge from one’s mind, or even to subdue into cultural curiosities that have no power over our behavior or thinking. Neuroscientists have long known that it takes much longer to unlearn incorrect information than it takes to learn it in the first place. Holding on to stereotypes is especially easy because evolution wired us to look for patterns as a survival skill. Successful hunting, gathering, farming and escaping predators all rely on forming patterns from our observations.

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People of Gender

February 5, 2012

The definition of People of Color is: All people except White people. Of course, White people are not actually white and have color. Those of us in the anti-racism movement want White people to know that they are not ethnicity-neutral. Calling everyone else “people of color” doesn’t help in this effort. It encourages White people to think that there are people (White people) and then there are beings “of color” who are other than just people. I was at an educational conference where a presenter was referring to people of color as “diverse people,” as in, “I made sure that I knew the name of my diverse student.” Not only is this an odd perversion of the meaning of diversity, but it reflects the general view among people in a majority, or people in power, that they are normal and that everyone else is a variant of normal.

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