The Republicans' Rancid and All-Too-American Dance With Racism
As the racist rhetoric oozes from Republican presidential candidates, why are comments contained in Ron Paul newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s being widely considered more offensive than current bigoted banter uttered by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum?
One answer to that question is a politics where partisan criticisms are directed at crippling certain candidates feared as rising stars.
Thus when Congressman Paul began percolating up in the Iowa Caucus polls late last year, news of his caustic comments in those decades-old newsletters became headline news coverage.
Curiously for a candidate tagged racist Paul has a public record of opposing the most racist governmental offensive in contemporary America – the War on Drugs – that societally destructive campaign other GOP presidential candidates ignore.
The Drug War’s documented race-tainted enforcement practices drives facts like blacks comprising 25% of Iowa’s state prison population despite blacks there representing just 2.9% of that state’s population.
Another answer to that question of why Ron not Rick or Newt lies embedded in America’s historic refusal to earnestly address racism especially pernicious institutional racism.
Dancing around racism, individual and institutional, is as American as apple pie.
Typical of the disingenuousness entangling that dance, racist remarks receive much ado while silence surrounds substantive issues like the unearned privileges arising from institutional racism that have aided the lives and careers of each of the GOP presidential contenders.
Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, for example, enjoyed a comfortable middle class upbringing after his 1958 birth because both of his parents worked as medical professionals at Veterans Administration hospitals.
The VA along with other governmental and private sector employers openly discriminated against qualified black professionals until the late-1960s/early-1970s thus limiting blacks from income to improve their families.
Conservatives rarely if ever acknowledge the unearned benefits flowing to whites (especially those in the middle and upper classes) from America’s decades-long reign of legalized segregation.
“Racism is a tenacious evil,” civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated in a 1967 article published nine months before his assassination. This King observation is applicable to the political practice of candidates, mainly Republican, roiling race for electoral advantage.
King, in that article, also reminded “millions of underprivileged whites” of something they never hear from Republican GOP presidential candidates: white supremacy “can feed” egos but not stomachs. That factoid should resonate in today’s Recession ravished economy with high unemployment and rising rates of poverty.