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Want to see the rabid right wing of the Republican party squirm?
Just call them what they are: racists.
Nothing makes an ultra-conservative more nervous because while they scream and moan that they aren’t bigots who hate blacks, other minorities, homosexuals and anyone else who doesn’t fit their lilly-white view of the world, they know down deep that racism drives their narrow focus view of the world and guides just about everything they do.
And with a black President residing at 160o Pennsylvania, their racism is in full bloom. It drives not only the party’s hatred of everything that Barack Obama wants to do but also feeds their opposition to immigration and fuels their steadfast opposition to anything that is not fat, rich and white.
Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron offered up a good description of Republicans recently when he compared GOP opposition to Obama to actions of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all the Republicans with the way he’s treated,” Aaron said in an interview with USA Today. “The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”
Over the weekend, Democratic congressman Steve Israel told CNN’s State of the Union that the Republican party has a base “animated by racism” and said that racism is evident in the party’s opposition to immigration reform.
“To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism,” Israel said. “And that’s unfortunate.”
Unfortunate but true. Earlier, former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi fueled the debate by noting that “race has something to do with the fact that (Republicans) are not bringing up an immigration bill.”
During part of my 23 years in Washington, I saw Republican racism first hand as a communications consultant who worked on GOP campaigns.
In the mid-1990s, the consulting firm I worked for was brought in to advise on a campaign against Democratic governor Howard Dean in Vermont. At the first meeting of the campaign team, I walked out after those in charge of the campaign issued a strong, obscenity-laced tirade against gays and Dean’s support of gay rights.
The campaign wanted to send out false information claiming Dean was a pervert who wanted to legalize gay rights so children in Vermont could be sexually assaulted by gays.
It wasn’t the first time I had run into Republican bigotry but it would be the last time I would be involved in such activities. I resigned from the campaign and walked away from any political activity on behalf of Republicans.
Ironically, I know many Republicans who aren’t racist but they remain members of a party controlled by rabid racism. And, yes, Democrats have had their racists as well. The late Democratic Senator Bob Byrd was a member of the Klan in his early years. Another former Democratic Byrd Senator, Harry of Virginia, supported segregation until his death at the age of 98 last year.
But recent racism is more apparent within the GOP and drives much of the agenda controlled by the right-wing of the party. The Republicans’ tea party elements are also driven by racism. As a reporter and photographer, I often find racist themes on posters and signs waved by tea party members.
Later, as a reporter, I helped expose the racist past of Virginia Senator George Allen. I had witnessed Allen using racial slurs and provided details that helped end his Senatorial career. When he tried to run again in 2012, I provided more information on his racism. He lost again.
My disgust with racism goes back to my time as a young student in Prince Edward County, Virginia, when racists who controlled the school board and board of supervisors shut down the public schools in the wake of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court and opened an all-white private school funded by county tax dollars.
At age 12, I snapped a clandestine photo of a Klan meeting in Prince Edward County and sold it to a newspaper. It became my first sale of a photo for news use. Our family later left the county largely because of the rampant racism of a local government dominated by racists.
Racism is repugnant. Racism has no place in a country that claims to be dedicated to freedom and equality.
But as long as the Republican Party is dominated by racism, that pursuit of freedom and equality is a dream that can never become reality.
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