“Roger L. Simon Gets Racism Backwards”: Racism Made A Comeback Because It Worked Politically For Republicans
I just wonder if Mr. Simon is aware of the psychological projection involved in his conclusion.
Just a few years later, the scab appeared very much healed with the inauguration of America’s first African-American president, a man who would be elected twice. I didn’t vote for him for policy reasons, but his election brought tears to my eyes as a former civil rights worker. America’s long nightmare, as Dr. King might have put it, was over, at least as over as things could be in this imperfect world.
But it wasn’t – not by a long shot. It went the other way. Driven by what I call in my book “nostalgia for racism,” racial enmity was brought back as surely as Michael Corleone was pulled back in in Godfather III.
Power, of course. The Democratic Party relies on the perceived reality of racism for the identity politics on which it feeds. Racism is the lifeline of the Democrats. Votes lie there.
I agree that the explanation for our curdled race relations lies in the quest for power, but not in the way that Simon says.
It was certainly possible to treat President Obama the way that Morgan Freeman asked to be treated by 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace, as a person rather than as a black person. But that’s not the way he was treated. From at least the time of the Beer Summit with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the right chose to attack the president on racial grounds. No white president would have felt compelled to produce their birth certificate just to quell the cacophony of nonsense he was encountering that threatened to drown out everything he wanted to prioritize.
This wasn’t necessary. John McCain showed some actual restraint during his campaign in refusing to make a major issue out of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and in making the decision to dispute accusations by his supporters that Obama is an Arab or a Muslim. After McCain’s loss, however, no one of similar stature stood up to quiet down those same racially charged accusations.
The Republicans were fully supportive of the Tea Party revolt, and the result was the end of Eric Cantor, John Boehner, and 18 Republican candidates for president (not named Trump)’s careers. They were all shortsighted, but they made their mistake because they put their quest for power over their responsibility to show real moral leadership.
I can’t identify a single thing that President Obama has gained by being subjected to this racism, and he certainly didn’t encourage it. I doubt very much that he got any votes out of it, although the Republicans certainly lost a few. On the whole, though, ramping up racial polarization helps the Republicans keep control of the House of Representatives because a racially divided country divvies up the districts in a way that is advantageous for the white party. Racial minorities are much more regionally concentrated.
The truth is, most Republican officeholders probably aren’t all that racist, but “votes lie there” and it takes actual moral fiber to make the decision that some power isn’t worth having on some terms.
Racism made a comeback because it worked politically for the out-party. But it quickly devoured them, and now they’re left with a nominee who all decent people cannot support.
By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 12, 2016
“Let’s Make Torture Great Again”: Donald Trump Thinks America Must Commit War Crimes As A Matter Of Principle
Hours after Tuesday’s massacre at Ataturk International Airport, Donald Trump called on America to “fight fire with fire.” The presumptive GOP nominee told supporters in Ohio that, while he likes waterboarding, it probably isn’t “tough enough.”
“We have to be so strong,” Trump said. “We have to fight so viciously. And violently because we’re dealing with violent people viciously.”
On Thursday night in New Hampshire, Trump reiterated his belief that America should hold itself to the same standard as a fascist death cult. Asked by local station NH1 to respond to Senator John McCain’s claim that torture is “not the American way,” Trump replied:
Well it’s not the American way to have heads chopped off and have people drowning in steel cages … And so we can have our disagreements, but we’re going to have to get much tougher as a country. We’re going to have to be a lot sharper and we’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable almost.
It’s worth remembering that, for the Republican standard-bearer, ordering the military to hunt down and kill the wives and children of suspected terrorists falls under the “thinkable” column.
That Donald Trump will happily court human beings’ worst instincts for political gain is not breaking news. What’s interesting about his renewed support for deliberate war crimes is that there’s no evidence such heinousness even has a political upside. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the American people were scared. Eight in ten told pollsters from the Washington Post and ABC News that they were afraid of lone-wolf terrorism. But those respondents also overwhelmingly preferred Clinton’s response to the tragedy over Trump’s, and had more faith in her capacity to handle terrorism than they did in the mogul’s. This marks a departure from past campaign cycles, in which Republican candidates have consistently enjoyed higher marks than their Democratic rivals on matters of national security.
Part of this change can be explained by the unusually stark discrepancy between the two presumptive nominees’ levels of foreign-policy experience. But in the previous Washington Post–ABC News poll, taken in May, Trump was only three points behind Clinton on the issue of terrorism; he fell 11 points behind her in the wake of Orlando. Thus, it appears that the American people find a former secretary of State calmly laying out a detail-oriented plan for reducing terrorism to be more comforting than a real-estate mogul shouting that the nation must chose between his radical agenda and certain doom.
In light of this finding, it seems unfair to assume that Trump’s pledge to do the “unthinkable” is motivated by crass political calculations. Rather, pundits should give the presumptive GOP nominee the benefit of the doubt, and assume his support for war crimes is a genuine expression of a deeply held faith in the cleansing power of sadistic violence.
By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 1, 2016
He can’t do it, Republicans. It’s time for you to admit that Donald Trump is incapable of even pretending to be an acceptable candidate for president. The question is which side of history you want to be on.
Are you going to stand with him as the balloons drop on the last night of the convention, knowing he shares neither your views nor your values? Are you going to work your hearts out this fall to put an unstable bully in charge of our national defense? Is party unity so much more important to you than trifles such as responsibility, duty and honor?
Leading Republicans should pay attention to what Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) told a reporter for the conservative Newsmax website: “What I am saying is Donald Trump can still get a vote from a lot of conservatives like me, but I would like some assurances on where he stands. I would like some assurances that he is going to be a vigorous defender of the U.S. Constitution. That he is not going to be an autocrat. That he is not going to be an authoritarian. That he is not somebody who is going to abuse a document that I have sworn an oath to uphold and protect and defend.”
Lee, who has not endorsed Trump, specifically mentioned “the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK” — referring to Trump’s scurrilous and unfounded charges about the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) — and also Trump’s history of making “statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant.”
My only question for Lee is why Trump might still get his vote. I realize that Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, but no one has suggested that she might shred the Constitution or that she is a religious bigot. I thought the oath to “protect and defend” meant putting country before party.
To be sure, some leading Republicans are doing just that. Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, is one of the loudest and most consistent “Never Trump” voices. The Bush family, which incarnates the GOP’s recent history, is boycotting the convention. My colleague George F. Will, a principled conservative if ever there was one, said last week he had left the Republican Party because of Trump.
But most GOP luminaries are like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who has obvious reservations about his party’s presumptive nominee but supports him nonetheless. McConnell said this week that “people are looking for a level of seriousness that is typically conveyed by having a prepared text and teleprompter and staying on message.”
In other words, McConnell hopes Trump can at least pretend to be serious and stable long enough to make it through the general-election campaign.
Asked Wednesday if he agreed, Romney said no. “I think Mr. Trump has demonstrated who he is by virtue of what he said in the process to this point,” he explained. “What he says from this point forward may paper over that.”
I’ve had the same worry — that Trump would appear to be more statesmanlike and fool voters into thinking he had changed. With every passing week, however, I become less concerned about this scenario. Trump is who he is.
Every time Trump gives a prepared speech in which he manages to stay on message, drawing praise from the party establishment, he negates it by reverting to his old self. His address on foreign policy a couple of months ago, for example, was wrongheaded but basically mainstream. This week, however, he has been ranting about how the United States needs to use waterboarding and other torture techniques against suspected terrorists.
And you’re going to vote for this guy, John McCain? You, a former prisoner of war who was tortured by the North Vietnamese? You, the Senate’s most outspoken opponent of the practice?
McConnell said he hoped that Trump “is beginning to pivot and become what I would call a more serious and credible candidate for the highest office in the land.” Asked whether this was happening, McConnell replied, “He’s getting closer.”
But he’s not, and McConnell surely knows it. So does House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who will preside over the convention at which Trump is set to be nominated. So do many Republicans who, when I ask them about Trump, either sigh, shrug or run away.
We are talking about the presidency of the United States, Republicans. You are about to nominate and support a man you know to be dangerously unworthy. Some loyalty.
By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 30, 2016
This is how the sausage is made:
After last weekend’s terrorist attack in Orlando, the people’s representatives in Washington scrambled to counter the growing threat to national security . . . from vegetarianism.
A nearly 15-hour filibuster by Senate Democrats to force action on keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists produced little: They’ll get a vote, but the measure is likely to be defeated by Republicans on Monday.
House GOP leadership, meanwhile, killed a Democratic effort to extend non-discrimination protections for gay people — the demographic targeted in the Orlando shooting.
But the House on Thursday did pass a plan to block the spreading menace to the U.S. military posed by Meatless Mondays.
“I rise to ensure that our men and women in uniform have options on their menu when they seek nutrition in the cafeteria,” Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) proclaimed. “Ideologically motivated activists are working to take meat off the menu in institutions across the country.”
But Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.) had a beef with that argument. “I appreciate the gentleman’s concern about ideological activists attacking the menus at the Department of Defense, but I do trust they will have the intestinal fortitude to resist those particular attacks,” he said. He assured his cattle-state opponent that “there is no policy under consideration to eliminate meat from the nutritional programs for our military services.”
Indeed, a Pentagon spokesman investigating the matter had found no evidence of an anti-meat campaign by Thursday night. But Smith was bullheaded in his advocacy. “Meat contains vitamins and nutrients not readily available in a plant-based diet,” he argued. “In fact, creatine, which supplies energy to muscle cells and aids in their recovery, is only found in animal products.”
The Democrat would not be branded anti-carnivore. “I did have meat at lunch yesterday. I ate meat last night,” he said. But he objected to Republicans, who like to complain about regulatory overreach, attempting to legislate menus.
“Should we start considering whether we should be using diced tomatoes in our various food service areas, or should we do whole tomatoes?” he asked. “Should we, when we serve tuna fish, have chunk white or solid white?”
Thus was the response to the Orlando atrocity. Lawmakers declined to keep guns and explosives out of suspected terrorists’ hands. They refused to extend equal protection to gay Americans. But they bravely repelled an imaginary threat to hamburgers.
Never mind that the Pentagon is attacking neither red meat nor fish nor fowl. The pro-meat forces prevailed in a voice vote.
And this was part of a profoundly depressing reaction to one of the worst mass killings the country has seen. Donald Trump implied that President Obama was in cahoots with the Islamic State and then tweeted an article from a right-wing publication saying the administration “actively supported” the terrorist group.
Even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Obama was “directly responsible” for the attack in Orlando, before clarifying that Obama wasn’t “personally responsible.”
In the House, Republicans aped Trump’s anti-immigration histrionics by allowing votes on measures to block the “dreamers” — immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children — from serving in the military. The attempt failed by the thinnest of margins.
GOP leaders refused to vote on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would protect LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination. But they allowed an amendment to the same bill that would protect service members from the invented scourge of Meatless Mondays.
“I am not willing to allow activist groups to tell members of our military, who risk their lives to keep us safe, they cannot enjoy a hamburger or steak on certain days of the week,” Smith said in a statement.
On the floor, he noted an “agenda to remove meat” by the U.S. Coast Guard, which has cut meat consumption by cadets at its academy. The Coast Guard wasn’t covered under the defense bill, but Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) still went hog wild. “Our military — we’d starve them for meat? We need them to be aggressive,” he said. He held up a photo of Norwegian troops who, he says, have Meatless Mondays and therefore can’t eat their beloved reindeer meat that day. “Let’s have a strong military,” King said. “Let them have a lot of protein.”
The House vote by itself did not protect the troops from the fanciful threat of creeping vegetarianism. The Senate, in its version of the defense bill, refused to take up a similar amendment by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who spoke of castrating hogs in her famous campaign ad. Ernst said, “The push for Meatless Mondays in our military is misguided.”
But this “push” is bull. The dangers our leaders won’t address — terrorists getting guns, and legal discrimination against gay people — are real.
By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 17, 2016