In the Sports section of the Sunday New York Times of Jan. 31, 2016, the Times regular columnist William C. Rhoden wrote:
“As he prepares to take the greatest stage in American sports, Cam Newton has used the spotlight on him to discuss our country’s most persistent and vexing problem: racism. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Newton, the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers [of the National Football League], ensured that Super Bowl week would have a fiery discussion point when he suggested that the criticism of his exuberant style of play might be rooted in racism.
‘I’m an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to,’ Newton said. As a result, Newton suggested, he does not receive his due as a player: ‘I don’t think people have seen what I am or what I’m trying to do.’ Racism is the third rail of American consciousness, but raising it just before Super Bowl festivities begin this week, ahead of the Panthers’ game against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 7 in the San Francisco Bay Area, is fascinating.”
I have a friend from Ghana who lives here to earn money which she sends back to Ghana. Her husband, two children and mother live there, although they too could emigrate and live here. Obviously this is a temporary arrangement. But why, I asked, would her husband and family not want to live here? Is it the racism, I asked. Without hesitation, she replied “yes.”
Some years ago, I was riding up on a chair lift at the ski resort at Breckenridge, CO. I happened to be riding with a young, white, couple, who were visiting from South Africa. They made it clear that they were very happy that Apartheid was behind their beloved country. We got to talking a bit about their experiences in the United States. Not shy, and picking up my vibes that I am left-wing, they allowed that one of their impressions of the United States was that they had never been in such a racist country. Two anti-Apartheid whites from South Africa!
We know the origins of racism in this country. White supremacy and its close companion racism/racial superiority, were concepts invented in the 17th century South in order to justify slavery and also to sell it to the poor white, non-slaveholding farmers. The Civil War was fought over slavery (there were of course other issues, but none that either side would have gone to war over — in fact the South made it very clear that they were fighting to preserve it). So. Slavery gone. Shouldn’t the doctrine of White Supremacy and its evil twin racism go too? Well, no.
It is well-known that the Southern ruling class never gave up, that they fought against every aspect of Reconstruction and won that battle, that they re-established segregation in the South, and that even after the struggles that led to the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960s, the Doctrine of White Supremacy and racism have continued to underlie politics in the United States and exert tremendous power over the political and governmental processes. But why should that be? The answer is a simple one.
Since the time of Reconstruction there has always been a major U.S. political party which has set its ideological and political foundation on the Doctrine of White Supremacy and racism. It has centered its geographical nexus on the Old South. From the end of the Civil War until the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s it was of course the Democratic Party. There was some historical logic to this because from the time in the early 19th century when the existence/preservation of slavery had begun to become a political question (see the Missouri Compromise of 1820) it had been the Party of Slavery.
However, we all know that when in the 1960s the Democratic Party under John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey became the party of Civil Rights, that when Richard Nixon smelled a political opportunity, he and his team created the “Southern Strategy.” In one of the great ironies of history, “The Party of Lincoln” (and some Republicans still have the temerity to refer to themselves in that way) became the party of white supremacy and racism, with its geographical fulcrum in the South. They did this, of course, not because they necessarily believed in the Doctrine (like, for example, George Wallace did), but because they thought that adopting it would be the way to secure their political power in the future.
The United States continues to exist as a racist nation precisely because one of its two principal political parties runs on it. Cam Newton can feel the racism, a Ghanaian family that could (legally) emigrate chooses not to, two white anti-Apartheid South Africans tell me that they have never been in such a racist country, solely because one political party owes its continued existence to it. Can you imagine where our nation would be if this situation did not exist? Can you imagine if both major political parties rejected racism as doctrine and ran on the real issues that affect us? Of course, if the Republicans had to run on what they really stand for they would not be remain politically standing for long. But that is another matter. (With the Democrats the only game in town, the prop of “Lesser Evilism” would also melt away, ex;posing that party for the criminal fraud it is.)
Which brings us to the Repubs. and religion (about which I have also written recently). In a nation that supposedly has separation of church and state under the Constitution, that among other things (like the plain language of the Constitution, see Article VI and the First Amendment) numerous Presidents, both 19th and 20th century, have endorsed, many Republican candidates, even more so this year, are markedly focused on religion, of a particular kind. Do you want to get really worried? See Frank Bruni’s column, “The GOP’s Holy War.” And then take a look at the religious-sermon ad of the supposed “mainstream” Republican Marco Rubio. It begins with this:
“Our goal is eternity, the ability to live alongside our Creator for all time. To accept the free gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ. The struggle on a daily basis as a Christian is to remind ourselves of this. The purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan. To those whom much have been given, much is expected. And we will be asked to account for that. Were your treasures stored up on earth or in heaven? And to me, I try to allow that to influence me in everything that I do.”
And this man, this Republican, wants to be President of the United Sates. Combine this with their racism, and the Republicans offer us a deadly mixture. The Republicans USE these religious-based doctrines just the way they use racism: to promote their political objectives to support their central economic doctrines/policies. Let’s hope that someone in the Duopoly begins to wake up to this reality and begins to fight the fight on the issues on which it should be fought, before it’s too late (and in that regard, see my book The 15% Solution.)
One who I think will win the GOP nomination. It’s neither any of the out-front Christian Rightists nor the Grand Narcissist. I really don’t think that the Grand Poo-Bahs of the Republican Party will allow that. It’s a recipe (thank goodness) for electoral disaster. Back in August I said I thought the ticket would be Kasich-Fiorina, produced from a deadlocked convention (which the Pooh-bahs will do their damnedest to arrange). Another possibly from a deadlocked convention would be Pretty Boy Ryan, who happens to be as reactionary as they come when it comes to policy. But he has a “nice” look and way about him (how about that beard?) But then the legendary Depression Era gangster Pretty Boy Floyd, immortalized as Robin Hood type by Woodie Guthrie, did too. More on him (Pretty Boy Ryan) anon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Editor, Politics, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being Senior Editor, Politics, for The Greanville Post, he is: a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement; a “Trusted Author” for Op-Ed News.com; a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man. He is the Editorial Director and a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine.us. Further, he is an occasional Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, BuzzFlash Commentary, and Dandelion Salad.
Dr. Jonas’ latest book is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel, Brewster, NY, Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, and available on Amazon.