07 April 2010

a hypothetical

Imagine you have been perceived as a racist or some other form of bigot. Imagine that it is, for public imaging reasons, important that perhaps you should seek to alleviate these concerns. How might you want to go about doing this?

As a hint, if "you" are the conservative movement or the Republican party, this is not how to go about it.

My assumption from this is that it is, apparently, not important enough to appeal to people who think you are a bigot that you are not one and is instead more important to appeal to other bigots, with the possibility that there will be enough people who are unaware of your bigoted sentiments or who, for whatever reason, don't care about them. I sometimes admire the people who think federalism and states' rights are a useful way to run a country, if only because such ends can sometimes serve a limited government routine like I might favor. But not when they pick a state's "right" to impose servitude on some of its residents against their right to life and liberty, defining them away as property at worst. To use such ends to increase the power of the state by limiting the power of other governments to intercede or of the people to limit such encroachment as well, by denying rights to minorities or imposing majoritarian sentiments over and above equal freedoms to all people is and should be decried as an abhorrent sequence of our history. It should not be celebrated or remembered fondly. That it continues to be by major figures in the Republican party and that this is somehow deemed to be politically useful for them to do so should be scary. It does suggest that we have done a very poor job examining our own history, but it also suggests, more pressingly, that the opinions and experiences of a significant portion of Americans (namely blacks, but by extension other minority views) will be dismissed by a major political party. The amusing part, if there is one, is that this is the same party that thinks its tokenism of selecting black figures to prominent positions in its ranks, such as the RNC chairmanship, somehow makes up for this disturbing lack of attention to its history of more racist intentions. The fact that it then selected an obvious buffoon to such a position makes it a little more delicious for late-night comedy purposes, but not really any more useful for dissuading a popular perception issue that will only get worse for Republicans politically as the demographics shift away from Southern white folks who think the Rebel flag is a neat element of heritage (I'm not so sure it's offensive automatically, but it does reflect rather poorly of the people who choose to slap one on the back of their truck, right next to some truck nuts usually).

(Before one brings up that the Civil Rights era was opposed by many more Democrats than Republicans, consider that these are the same "conservative" viewpoints. They just have a different household now than 50 years ago. That is not uncommon in American politics. Republicans from the Wilson era favored high tariffs and trade barriers to protect businessmen. Now they favor free trade agreements).

Update: more here
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