Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Abnegation of Abraham Lincoln

I am a white Southern woman, raised from the cradle as a Democrat by Democratic parents. I am still a Democrat, so I can say this:

All it took was the election of a black man as President to show exactly how racist this country still is.

There. I said it. And as a linguist and someone who's interested in how language constantly evolves and develops, I'm always amazed at how many different ways and how many different words mask latent racism.

We're seeing racism at work this week in Tampa, Florida. Look at the audience in rapture at white politicians telling bare-faced lies in language carefully attuned to dog-whistling - it's a sea of white faces, punctuated here and there by the odd black or brown face who, for some reason, feel safer in the bosom of a race who opposes their very existence as first class citizens.

I'm ashamed that most of the attitudes fostered by today's Republican party seem to emanate from the old traditional racist views found and founded in the Reconstruction South. The main propagators of these ideas, however, seem to be Northerners, as evidenced by the chosen Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for the GOP.

Harold Meyerson, writing in today's Washington Post illustrates brilliantly this "Southernisation" of the modern Republican Party. It's a total flip-flop (like the chosen candidate) to the extent that the North has now become the South; and the party which authored the Emancipation Proclamation has now become the party of voter suppression and property rights.

When someone attending this convention openly throws peanuts at an African American camerawoman, remarking that "this is the way we feed animals," then someone has to call a halt on the measure of hatred emanating from this party.

This is a party whose members fear the changing demographic of America. This is a party where women are derided. It's also a party filled with bitterness and hatred cloaked in religious fervor. That's the only way I can describe a party where many of its married women members view a pregnancy resulting from a rape as a gift from God, if they don't believe the malarky promulgated by Todd Akin that a woman's body "shuts down" procreative processes if and when she's "legitimately" raped. Hell, this is a party which says it can only view rape as rape when it's "forcible" rape.

Today's Republican America has become the South.

But how is it that the South has come North in today’s GOP? The fact that Barack Obama is our first black president coincides with the United States’ transformation from a majority-white nation to a multiracial country no longer destined to remain the world’s hegemon. Augmented by an intractable recession rooted in a crisis of capitalism, this epochal shift has summoned the shades of racial resentment. To the extent that Republicans can depict government as the servant of this rising non-white America (precisely the purpose of Romney’s ads), the South’s antipathy toward government can find a receptive audience in other regions.
This transformation of the GOP has also been spurred by the Southernization of the economy. The U.S. economy’s dominant sector is no longer the unionized manufacturing of the Northeast and Midwest, whose leaders included such Republican moderates as George Romney, and whose white working-class employees were persuaded by their unions to back Democratic candidates. Instead, the economy is dominated by a mix of the low-wage, nonunion retail and service sectors, and by high finance, which has shown itself fiercely opposed to regulation and taxation, happy to reap and shield its profits abroad at the expense of U.S. workers, and willing to invest plenty in a party that does its bidding.

From the overt Republican lies and subtle Atwater-esque racial digs in Romney's political adverts aimed at stoking white America's racial stereotyping regarding welfare to Mitt's hokey and awkward birther joke made with that stupid mock-sincerity facial expression of innocence he always uses when he's trying to pass a lie off as a truth to Miss Ann's "you people" remark, this is the party of God's Word as law in exclusion and intent on taking the country back to a place and time where people were peasant poor and ignorant.

For all the accusations leveled at Barack Obama as "unAmerican" and leaning toward Europe, this is the Party who wants to rebuild an America on the backs of a cultivated system of serfdom that is a direct reflection of the European Middle Ages.

It's the party of mean, it's the party of hate and it's the party of cowardice, hiding behind an idea of America in order to mask its hatred of minorities, of women and of progress. 

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post.

    The truly sad thing is that there are still people who claim, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there is no real difference between the two parties.

    It's enough to drive one to drink.