Racism and the Republican Party

One of the greatest barriers to a society striving to become progressive and caring is the one far too many falsely believe has already been resolved and that is the curse of racism. Sadly, as I'll show you, it is not only alive and well but it even seems to thrive within the Republican Party. This tragic fact explains the GOP's policies against the enactment of any form of anti-discrimination laws or toward blaming society's financial ills on immigrants and their children.

Consider these quotes and facts:

When being interviewed by a Bozeman Chronicle editor, Senator Conrad Burns (Rep - Montana) related a tale about when an old rancher asked Burns how he could live in Washington with so many African-Americans. Burn's reply to that rancher, according to his own story? It's a "hell of a challenge", he replied. In a later incident, while speaking to the Montana Equipment Dealers Association, he decried the dependence of America on Mideast oil. Referring to the Arabs as "ragheads", he later apologized by stating that he got too "emotionally involved" in the issue. Perhaps, as is the case with most folks, it's when you're too "emotionally involved" that your true biases emerge. (1)

Another Republican, this time the Mayor of Trenton, North Carolina, offered this bit of wisdom on the work ethic of blacks, "They're not leaders. A black man would rather work for a white man". Ah, yes! That would explain why the slaves fought on the side on the Confederacy and why they demanded not to be freed! They were afraid of being forced to go against their nature and become leaders. Gosh, I would have never known that. Thanks, Mayor. That clears up so much.(2)

A far more tragic case of overt racism is the case of Trent Lott and the character, or lack of character, of some his biggest supporters.

First, a little background on the group at hand. Officially formed on July 11, 1954, less than two months after the landmark anti-segregation decision Brown v. Board of Education was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Citizens Councils of America was founded with the express purpose of supporting the concept of White Superiority. Nevertheless, in hopes of distancing themselves from other racists, the leaders proclaimed that they were of a "better class" than the KKK who burned crosses and wore white sheets. Instead, they proclaimed, the members of the Citizens Councils of America wore suits and ties, were owners of local businesses, were doctors and were elected mayor. The driving force behind the group, Robert Patterson, wrote in 1956 that the Citizens Councils was created because, "Integration represents darkness, regimentation, totalitarianism, communism and destruction. Segregation represents the freedom to choose one's associates, Americanism, State sovereignty and the survival of the white race".

The group wielded great political clout throughout the South in the 50's and 60's but saw their membership fall from an estimated 250,000 at its peak in the 50's to the point where the group nearly disbanded in the late 70's. The early eighties, however, was a friendly time for racists, a time when America elected an administration far kinder to their sick views. The group began using the vocabulary of the time to legitimize their cause. They first changed their name to Council of Conservative Citizens. Then they began decrying "giveaway programs" and "special preferences" and "quotas" and "crack-related crime" and "single mothers" and "third generation welfare mothers" "dependent" on government checks and food stamps. They found that they could join with other far right wing radical groups like the John Birch Society and that they were even able to attract past campaign workers for racists politicians like Lester Maddox of Georgia and George Wallace of Alabama as well as supporters of the white government in South Africa. Forming new branches in many Southern states was simple, considering that the local government was epitomized by folks like conservative Republican Governor Kirk Fordice of Mississippi who declared that he was not "going to, just because it's politically correct, demonize the CCC. There are some very good people in there with some very good ideas. All this stuff about them being racists, that's hearsay, as far as I'm concerned". (All a statement like that proves is that Fordice needs a better foundation in American history.)

The group promotes the view that the white race is superior to all others and that America has always been a white, European culture that is now threatened by black and Hispanic cultures. Even though these racist views have long been found wanting in more intelligent circles (in particular among the Native American tribes who occupied this land for just a few thousand years longer than white Europeans), that hasn't stopped them from pretending to be intelligent. Even their national board "boasts" such "thinkers" as Yale University educator and self-described "racialist" Jared Taylor, author of "Paved With Good Intelligence" which argues that different races have genetic differences in intelligence levels.

Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, even though he was born in the same area, Carroll County, as the national headquarters of the CC of C, hasn't learned the lesson that the majority of Americans detest any form of racism. He has made many speeches to its members as well as inviting the leaders to his Washington Senate offices. Lott has even appointed the head of the CC of C's Mississippi branch to be his election chairman in Carroll County. The Council of Conservative Citizens crows that at least 34 state legislators belong to their little organization and it is a fact that at least two candidates for governor in southern states have spoken at their meetings and, as noted above, even the Senate Majority Leader has knelt before the group's ideological altar of hatred. Now, Lott suddenly finds his association a problem in that he sees himself as a possible vice-presidential candidate and worries that ties to foul and hateful groups such as this may be too expressive of his true beliefs. In fact, his greatest worry is that his association with the Council of Conservative Citizens might put off real human beings who would vote for any Republican, even Lott, but may find an overt racist just a tad too disgusting. (3)

Gentle readers, I believe that the vast majority of Americans are sickened by racists such as these who proudly proclaim themselves members of the Republican Party. Sadly, the majority of Americans don't take the time to vote. If you look at the polls, it is the conservative, anti-tax and anti- poor and, well, anti-progressive people who always go to the voting booth. As long as this sad trend continues then the work toward a color-blind society that began in the Sixties can never be finished. Until people with a heart step up and demand a nation where all are given an equal opportunity to succeed and where the color of one's skin is of interest only to the producers of cosmetics then groups like the CC of C will be around and the Republican Party will continue to be the party of racists.

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Copyright 5/11/99