Photo via politico.com
Republicans, by-and-large, are a group of white extremists. This is not a term to disparage them out of spite. It is not some partisan comparison to the Democrats human rights record, though such contrasts can be easily made. No, this judgment is built on common observation of what motivates them. It recognizes that when a political community keeps moving to the right each year for a decade and more, pretty soon you will be bumping up against the very furthest you might go to the right.
This has now happened to the Republican Party, and something like four in ten white Americans. The specter of so many people of color as American citizens, let alone those who are undocumented and have broken our immigration laws, scares them to death.
The marked way in which they react to police killings of suspects who are of color, by a rush to find evidence of previous wrongdoings however small, and to back law enforcement officers no matter how horrendous their behavior is a tell.
United States Bureau of the Census data clearly shows that by 2045, perhaps earlier, white people will no longer be in the majority. It also shows that there will be no racial majority in the United States at all. But since people of color have been and are treated so abominably in this nation the non-white racial groups, and their liberal accepting white allies will make common cause. This frightens them even more.
The fact that Making America Great Again is code for a return to some approximation of the 1950’s and early 1960’s, when white supremacy was virtually unchallenged, is neither coincidence nor accident. The self- assured ascendancy of the white race in United States history can still be attained even now. But Republicans know that with something like nearly six in ten Americans being white, if civil rights laws, immigrations laws, and more can be effectively rolled back to that period, the nation will be again as these people fervently believe it should always be.
When W.E. B. Dubois said the problem of the twentieth-century is the problem of the color line, we now know that the problem of the twenty-first-century is the problem of the color line. The young century is no respecter of any triumphal march to human rights, and the moral arc of the universe does indeed bend toward justice, but it is possible for some to bend it back a little to prevent that from happening.
The great mediator of Republican and conservative white American’s fears and angst is Fox News, and the legion of radio talk show hosts who collect it like some grade school magnetism science lesson with a powerful magnet and some metal shavings.
Roger Ailes, a former aide to President Richard Nixon, suggested in 1968, the Party turn toward attracting conservative white Southern voters in what became known as The Southern Strategy. That very same man is now and has for a long time been running Fox News. In both operations it was necessary to appeal to the worst fears and prejudices these people already had. In the late 1970’s you saw virtually the entire old Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party move to the Republican Party.
Saying Democrats are historically racists, while true, is a canard. Since the late 1960’s the Democratic Party has been so dominated by moving forward the human rights of Americans of color that virtually all blacks, and an amazing number of Asians and Latinos have become Democrats. I’m not going to sing the praises of the Democratic Party here, yet that is what observationally occurred. This has happened for the rights of immigrants and women too.
The Republican Party composed of aging white men, sprinkled with young white extremists, and some loyal Stepford wives, and with the occasional black face, largely defines the demographics of that political grouping. These people keep moving further toward the right gradually, and more quickly every two years when national elections are prominent, along with Statewide races.
It is no coincidence that Donald Trump, the new pied piper of right-wing extremism went to Alabama. Alabama is a state that fears these demographic changes and hates with the best of them. They have the most draconian and un-American immigration law in the nation. So Trump sees this as a place in Mobile, where he might find enthusiastic support for his immigration policy, written by Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. He did so. The 20,000 present, or perhaps a little more, was good graphics.
The Republican Party has its center of gravity in the Old Confederacy. And Northern conservative white people are emotionally reacting the very same way.
For me, a very extremist line was crossed just this past week when Iowa talk show host Jan Mickelson seriously suggested that when the eleven million undocumented people are forced out by any means necessary, and on the first day of the Republican presidency, those who remain behind after such fair warning be enslaved to build the big wall on the Mexican border, and any other projects the State, that is the United States, might have for them. He used specifically the phrase the “property of the State.”
When any American conservative goes on the public airwaves, and so calmly and forcefully argues for, and doubles down on the idea that this nation turn back to human slavery that line has been crossed.
It’s not that we will return to human slavery in this country; but that even one of the right-wing extremist ideologues found it safe to fill the airwaves with such an idea that screams to rational and compassionate America: The Republican Party has hit the bumper at the end of the political far-right rail line.
The guiding force behind white conservative Republican America is the idea that anyone who does not conform to their vision for the nation will be punished, and that white people are the real persecuted group in this country who need their civil rights, and controlling opportunities and privilege respected more than those of color.
The Republican Party is an extremist party in many other areas beyond the momentous issue of race in America. They call for an extremely aggressive, muscular, and bellicose foreign policy that excludes diplomacy and building coalitions of friends of the United States. If implemented, it means war. One might ask if the nation will have ties with allied nations at all.
Both the United Nations and Amnesty International have repeatedly cited the United States for a climate of racism and lack of human rights. They are taking aim primarily at the people we’ve been discussing here. The world community rightly sees that an ascendant Republican Party and its obvious white extremism will make the United States the South Africa of this century.
Women have been under vicious assault in the legal arena by these people too. Incredibly degrading and draconian laws make access to safe, legal abortions and the full range of routine women’s reproductive health care increasingly difficult to obtain.
The very human right to have autonomy over your own body is an essential right of women in particular. Historically, restricting women’s autonomy in birth control has been the primary means of controlling them by men, and shutting them off from influence for millennia. In the context of a continuing patriarchal America this ought to have more discerning American women putting much of their energy into making the next two or three elections about reversing this trend. The best way to do this is to vote and pressure your representatives not to go where these conservatives have gone and are going.
Any group of people who are different are going to be targeted, and they are. The entire LGBT community may as well have targets painted on their bellies and backs. Gay and Lesbian people really frighten conservative white America out of their wits; this despite having such people within their own ranks. It makes you just want to wave the gay rights flag and say boo!
The United States is changing markedly, and has been for a long time now. The 1960’s like the 1860’s were decades that spurred great changes in the nation. White conservative America still lives in that dim and dusty former age. They deny the reality of a rapidly emerging and diverse America. They are predominantly mean- spirited and employ fear, anger, and a powerful, almost addictive need to punish those different then they are.
Yes, it is time to call the conservative white right-wing extremist. For that is what they are. News organizations ought not to be sitting blithely by and comfortably saying the less extreme extremists among them are part of the American mainstream. They are NOT.
The demographic diversity of the nation requires that centuries old prejudices be ended. The Republican extremists cannot possibly tap into the great rivers and streams of justice and liberty this nation has been championing. They are too extreme for that.