Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Race, Religion and Today's Republicans

Hi Everyone,

This is probably way to much to cram into one posting but I think this is all related and it makes pretty upset that people (otherwise intelligent people) say it is not.

First race: NPR's "This American Life" did a great series of stories about the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. One theme that kept coming up was race. Nearly all the people at the convention center (the one that FEMA supposedly never knew was full of people) were African American. They were repeatedly ordered to line up by the national guard for busses that never came. When they tried to cross a bridge into a suburban area across the Mississippi that was dry and had electricity they were blocked by armed surburban police/sheriff deputies who fired into the air and ordered them back into what was left of New Orleans.

Second religion: Another NPR story (can you tell what my Sunday morning routine is?), on a show called "Speaking of Faith" interviewed former Republican Senator (MO) and Bush's first UN Ambassador, John Danforth. Danforth is NOT one of the so called "Liberal Republicans" like those from Maine. He considers himself "conservative" and is also an ordained Episcopal Priest (and a Lawyer). I don't agree with everything he suggested but he made two points I really agree with. First, when you justify your political positions by stating that they are God's positions (as opposed to merely using your own faith to inform your own positions), you are automatically being divisive. Second, the biggest problem facing the entire world today is religion. That's right, this Episcopal Priest acknowledges that religion itself is at the heart of the problem.

Third Today's Republican Party: Because this new version of the Republican party is sold as the party of "Christians," opposition to its policies is not just annoying, it is against God. At the same time, if Republican policies are God's policies on Earth then issues of government accountability are irrelevant. Republicans are accountable to God not the people. Issues of personal liberty are irrelevant too because liberty is only justified when it is used in accordance with God's will (as interpreted by his servants in the Republican party). Furthermore, when poverty is seen as sign of God's disfavor. One is no longer obliged to sympathize with or even think about the poor. At the same time, there is a startling correlation between today's Christian Right and yesterday's "Dixicrats." In many cases (Thurmond, Helms, Miller etc) they are exactly the same people. The cavalier approach to preparing for Katrina combined with the defensiveness and attempts to stifle criticism are all parts of this. If a man who ran for President on an overtly segregationist platform says "this isn't about racism" would you believe him? But if that same man (or his protege) relies on the same supporters for political power but emphasizes "traditional Christian values" instead of "resistance to miscegenation" and says the same thing should we give him any more credence? One cannot and should not try to separate modern attitudes about race, poverty and religion from a discussion about the Republican party.

OK, now I know that rambled a bit and my point (what ever it was) may have been lost. But somewhere in there there must be a topic for discussion or two.


Dr. Strangelove said...

A couple of thoughts. First, there are some prominent black fundamentalist, evangelical Christians. (You might notice Bush tends to plan photo-ops with them whenever he can.) How do you account for this in your analysis? Noise?

Second, I worry that cries of "racism" tend to sound hollow these days, especially when it is at most a subtle form of racism not easy to see--and I fear that FOX News replays such charges often in order to discredit the critics. That people of color have been treated poorly in many instances in the hurricane relief effort is not proof that this poor treatement was racially motivated.

Is not sheer incompetence far more universal?

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are African American Republicans and African American Christian Fundamentalists. But there are Gay Republicans too. I don't think I'd be questioned if I said the Republican party as a whole was homophobic in its policies. So I guess my answer is "noise." That sounds a little unsatisfying I know but that's how I see it.

You're right that it's not like the GOP puts on pointy hats and sheets and sits around thinking about how to hurt Black folks. But the correlation between who benefits and who gets the shaft is so clear that it is important to directly address the race issue.

Also, it is not always "subtle." If you listen to the stories from New Orleans on "This American Life" you will hear stories of overt racism by white police who were ordering desperate African Americans back to the Convention Center at gun point. I don't know it for sure but if you made me guess, I'd say the overwhelming of police officers in suburban New Orleans are Republicans who don't regard themselves as "racists." 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that the spectacle of 10,000 white people desperate at the superdome would not have brought relief much, much faster. Even a presidential address such as "We are with you in New Orleans tonight" or something. And the military would have been sent in to help, not control, them.

But poor George. This stuff always happens when he's on vacation... 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Well, Bush is always on vacation so...

How about this, "Ich bin ein New Orleanian!" Hmm. Sounds a little off.

I know that accusations of racism are taken as fighting words. And I suppose that should be regarded as progress. At least now the Southern, White, conservative establishment gets defensive about it (they didn't used to bother denying it so much back when they were Democrats). But I think that the GOP's leadership (which almost entirely white, Southern and socially conservative) gets a free pass on this issue simply because it is considered SO inflamitory to say someone's policies are racist.

I also think it is important to note that a policy or ideology can be racist even it is not overtly based on the idea. For example, I'm sure that suburban cops who turned the refugees back, were thinking, "we're stopping crime." rather than "we're keeping the black folks out." The problem lies in how they determine the source of crime. I believe they were assuming that a group of starving, dehydrated women and children asking for the first bus to Baton Rouge were a long term crime risk BECAUSE the people in question were dirty (from surviving the storm and flood) and African American. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Raised By Republicans said...

Oh, one other thing.

Is a politician racist if he carefully words his statements to avoid overt racist remarks but relies significantly on voters who are themselves overt racists? How much catering and code-talking can this politician get away with before he deserves to be called a racist?

Is Trent Lott's statement about "if Strom Thurmond had been elected President, we wouldn't have had all these problems" racist? To whom was it directed? What signal was he sending about his own views?