To piggyback off shani-o’s post a bit…
I remember a few years back when Ken Mehlman, who then headed the Republican National Committee, actually acknowledged in an apology to the NAACP the Republican’s zealously shitty history toward African Americans. It was an obvious attempt to loosen up the Democratic stranglehold on black voters, but it was self-critical on issues of racial politics in a way that Republicans often seem constitutionally incapable of. I gave Mehlman props for hitting even that low bar, and waited to see what other overtures the G.O.P. would make toward black voters.
I’m still waiting. The Republican Party failed to follow up on Mehlman’s apology, which is probably understandable. But it’s not only because black folks are suspicious of Republicans. It’s also because an influx of Republicans of color would render their coalition unworkable. The people howling about socialism and Obama’s alleged terrorism in those clips are part of that hard core of Republican voters whom the Party never has to worry about. How does anyone think they would cotton to that idea?
This election will probably mark the end of the era of conservatism that reached its height during Reagan’s presidency. And so as the light dims, they’re going to the well of barely hidden racism one more time, even as the slice of the population that laps it up shrinks ever smaller. (Like all bigotries, it’s ultimately impractical; this ignorance will keep Bobby Jindal, one of the G.O.P.’s rising young stars, from making serious headway on the national level.)
It’s fitting that this nonsense will all come to an end with a black man taking the oath of office. They are freaking out, and flinging their shit and vitriol in a way that pre-emptively torpedoes the posture of feigned ignorance they will adopt when they’re called in the carpet for it. We see how they’ve implied that Obama has gotten out of his place, how they’ve tried to hammer home his supposed not-like-us-ness. We see how they are perfectly content with sullying an entire religious tradition (and all of its diverse adherents) out of intellectual bankruptcy and out of plain old racist muscle memory.
Good. It’s all out in the open now. To quote Ta-Nehisi quoting Denny Green: “They are who we thought they were.”