Call it what you will, it still is racism.
September 1854: U.S. Senator David R. Atchison (D-MO) letter to U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis:
“[O]ur people are resolved to go in [to Kansas] and take their niggers with them…. [Within six months we will have] the Devil to play in Kansas… We are organizing. We will be compelled to shoot, burn, and hang, but the thing will soon be over: we intend to “Mormonize” the abolitionists…. In a public speech, I advised the squatters in Kansas and the people of Missouri to give a horse thief, robber, or [murderer] a fair trial, but to hang a Negro thief or abolitionist without judge or jury. This sentiment met with almost universal applause…”
1981: Lee Atwater, one-time chair of the Republican National Committee and member of the Reagan administration:
“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger’. By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’ – that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing [and] states’ rights. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites … obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘nigger, nigger’.”
It appears as though all that has changed in over the past 120 years in American politics is the name of the political party and nature of the rhetoric.
I believe these two quotes could well begin just about every attempt to describe current conservative political philosophy and the positions taken by the modern Republican Party.
Ideas, like actions have consequences. Atchison and Atwater in these statements demonstrate the unbroken power of fear and hate in the contest for political power.
Those who seek to possess or preserve wealth or power through the political process can never gain it in a democratic society unless it can ally itself with the fears and hates of those in the majority whose economic and social position is tenuous.
Although, we can take just about any issue of current political significance to demonstrate how Atwater’s insight works, let’s take gun control:
Does anyone still really believe the gun control debate is about the Constitution, freedom or liberty?
Forget for a moment the influence of a few large gun manufacturers who in one way or another fund the lobbying and public relations activities of the NRA, does anyone believe that gun control regulations will prevent hunters from hunting?
No one, not even the NRA believes that unlimited access to firearms will protect school children from crazy white guys with assault rifles. Even they propose, highly trained and probably regulated armed guards as a solution.
Would anyone really feel safer if everyone on an airplane carried a gun instead of the occasional trained Air Marshall?
Does anyone believe that our armed forces will suddenly go AWOL so that a squad of Muslim Al Qaeda terrorists will invade and take over the country? Or even a part of it, like say South Dakota?
Is it believable to conceive even the possibility that the nations domestic public safety apparatus will be commandeered by Barak Obama in order to impose his brand of Bolshevism on the country?
As for protecting ones homes and businesses, there has never been a credible proposal that trained and licensed individuals could not have access to guns with which to protect their homes and businesses.
So, if it is not about hunting, foreign invasion and domestic revolution or protecting one’s home and business, what is it that has those who oppose any form of gun control so frightened of that they no longer trust the police to assure public safety. Criminals?
Violent crime, has been decreasing and, outside of the South, localized in most part to a few large cities. The vast majority of crimes of violence are domestic squabbles exacerbated by access to guns (interestingly especially in the South where they seem to kill and maim their spouses and relatives with shockingly more regularity than people in the rest of the country.).
How about, Nigger, nigger, nigger or Spic, spic spic?
Freedom, liberty, anti-terrorism and protection from criminals, are they abstract enough for you?