Thursday, October 27, 2005

More Fake Outrage From the Right

It never ends with right wingers! There is now a campaign heating up to make it seem as though Democrats are engaging in some type of racial smear campaign. Michelle Malkin referred to it as a "Sambo Smear." The picture above appears on The News Blog, a left leaning political blog based in Maryland. On the surface, the picture looks pretty bad. The blogger, Steve, posted about the official candidacy for Senator from Maryland of Michael Steele (who is currently the Lt. Governor, and a Republican). Steele is African-American. Inside the posting, Steve writes about his reasons for not supporting Steele's candidacy, and poins out how unlikely an electoral victory will be for Steele -- the Dems outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1 among registered voters. His contention is that the Maryland GOP is supporting Steele simply because he is black, and that the Repubs think that a black face will make black people vote for him rather than a Democrat (in other words vote against their self-interest). Steve was particularly angered by the fact that Steele appeared at a Republican event at a restricted country club (restricted to blacks, Jews, Asians, Latinos, etc). Steele was asked what he thought about speaking at a country club that would not allow him to be a member because of his race, and he said it was "okay" with him.

Steve wrote, "Black people will not only not vote for him, but regard him with contempt. When he said it was no big deal that Ehrlich [Maryland governor] held an event in a restricted country club, he showed himself to be Simple Sambo, untrustworthy and unreliable." The words in the article are being ignored by the right completely. They are focusing on the picture exclusively. A casual glance at the doctored picture of Mr. Steele does seem offensive on the surface. How can a white person use a picture such as that to criticize a black man? Well, folks, Steve is black!

That's right. He is black. This is a fact completely ignored by the right. They were so excited to have something "racial" to throw at the Democrats that they just plain missed a key factor in the controversy they are trying to create. Since it is the conservative political "movement" that opposed ending segregation, opposed the Voting Rights Act, opposed the Civil Rights movement, and supported elected officials like Strom Thurmond (who raped a black girl working at his family's home when he was younger and fathered a child with his victim), Jesse Helms, David Duke (leader of the KKK) and Trent Lott (endorser of segregationist candidates for President) -- just to name a few -- that movement has been trying for a long time to turn the tables on liberals. Not so fast, right winger!

***Spare me the argument that it was Southern Democrats that led the opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. Yes, it was. But they were Conservatives! They abandoned the Democratic Party in droves due to its support of civil rights, and they all went to the GOP (who was against it). This was referred to as the Republican's "Southern strategy." It was Nixon's strategy to get angry, Southern, former Democrats to vote for him. It has been the strategy of the GOP ever since. Ronald Reagan, for example, announced his candidacy for President in 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi (where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1963) which is symbolic to Southern racists who are proud of the murders of those "Yankees." The Bush campaign utilized the racist, southern strategy in the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary by smearing John McCain with false accusations about him having a "black baby" (he adopted a girl from Bangladesh a number of years before). Finally, in 2005, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman apologized for the Southern strategy in his shameless attempt to get more blacks to vote Republican.***

I do not think all (or even most) Republicans are racists. But many try to ignore the fact that the GOP has exploited racial tensions for decades to win elections. My take on this entire "controversy" is that the right was so giddy over the prospect of getting to tag the Dems with something racial, that they failed to do any research at all into what they were talking about! The creator of the "Sambo slur" was himself black! And he has a right to be angry. As a Jew, if I knew of a prominent Jewish person that spoke at a club that would not allow him to be a member due to his religion, I would consider that person a self-hating, sellout Jew. That is essentially what this particular blogger called Mr. Steele. Would I have used that particular graphic? No. But I am not black.

Lastly, why does the right always assume that when a Democrat criticizes a black conservative, they are doing it because he is a "black conservative?" The criticism is the same they would have for all conservatives: their political ideology is just plain wrong.The right loves to divide people, and there is nothing they would like more than to divide African Americans. Well, sorry guys, that's not going to work. Bush got 11% of the African-American vote in the 2004 election, but recent polls have shown support for Bush among those same African-Americans to be around 2%. The right has a lot of work to do, but calling the Democrats racists and then expecting some mass migration of blacks to the GOP is foolish, naive, and insulting to blacks. Blacks voted solidly Republican from the time slavery ended until the 1940s when it was Democrats that took up the cause of civil rights -- at their electoral peril. Southern whites left the party en masse for the next 20 years. But it was the principled and correct thing to do. We rid our party of the racist element. They went to the GOP. Have fun with them.

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