What Must Be Said…
Since the late 1960s, Americans have held the belief–which we now know has been a false belief–that we had gone past a society filled with race hatred. We should have known after the shifts of Democrats to Republicans in the Reagan era that it would be a long time before we would be a “post-racial” society. The cynical “Southern Strategy” of some in the Republican Party created a home for bigots. The Obama victory was an anomaly.
It is a fact that the vast, vast majority of white Southerners have overcome great obstacles to become fairer and more elevated in their thought than many of those in the North. Many in the Northern states simply observed African-Americans in school or on playgrounds or probably most often as very welcome team members in sports. There were some animosities, a few serious friendships, but primarily a relatively friendly co-existence with no conscious or deliberate racial antagonism from white toward black.
No one cared, frankly, about the circumstances in which African-Americans lived together or the challenges that they faced every single day. Being pro-integration seemed to give Northerners a “pass.” Most Northerners, if they are honest, simply said to themselves that some of their schoolmates were black and they were there. But they didn’t live in the same neighborhoods. In most cases, they didn’t go to the same parties or date the same people.
Life was de facto segregated by race, but made worse by income. In the North, while life was integrated legally, it was not much different. It wasn’t “that Black guy.” It was “that guy.” But…who is he? Well, first of all, obviously, he’s black or white. To Northern-state whites, black people were supposed to be just like anyone else. Only they weren’t.
Without going into the historical reasons that we all know, African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens from the get-go. After all, African-Americans had been brought to this country as slaves. It was not some MGM movie-script, ante-bellum fairy tale of good ole Massa Joe and the slaves like some cowhands in the bunkhouse. It was brutal, forced labor. Let’s just say that, if a concentration camp is zero and a Holiday Inn is ten, then slaves were living at about a 2-level.
They were held against their will, beaten, trained like workhorses and bred, God forgive us, for their strength and stamina. Prohibited education, then freed with no skills and, for the most part, not even literacy, they were basically starved and shoved off sidewalks, some even hanged on a whim or a grudge. They were made to attend their own barely functioning schools, hated, reviled, last to find work, first to be fired…generation after generation after generation. And then, hello, I’m your neighbor. No. It doesn’t work that way. Elections have consequences? History has even greater consequences. The Baltic States are fighting wars against the ghosts of people who died five centuries ago.
People ask the foolish question about why African-Americans would ask for reparations? We had a President who said that “I didn’t move away from Franklin Roosevelt. The Democratic Party moved away from me.” As with so much that Ronald Reagan said, it sounded good, and many of us think that he actually had persuaded himself that it was true. But it wasn’t true. After having been enslaved from 1619 until 1863, then simply cast aside until 1954, they were only given equal rights in the 1960s, after a nation-spitting, riot-torn, assassination-filled decade.
Ten years later—ten years—less than half of one generation after Civil Rights legislation, Ronald Reagan, in Philadelphia (a most ironic name) Mississippi, for petty political purposes, declared affirmative action dead. It was only a few words in a political speech but a monumental comment on race, in a small town infamous for interracial murders, that did not go unnoticed by bigots. They were at last being welcomed into a political party. Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Trent Lott….the KKK…they were all welcome in the new Conservative Republican Party.
Once having decided that kissing the devil didn’t send them up in flames, the “Neoconservative” (substitute: Racist-Fascist) wing of the GOP decided that lying was the second-best thing that they could do to serve themselves while stealing from the people. Of course they don’t lie merely for the sake of it. They figured out early on that they could lie for dollars and political power. It became an institutional effort to make black into white and white into black. Legislation that would create dirty, filthy skies would be named the “Clear Skies” Act. Lie to the Southern bigots. They won’t get it or won’t care.
Once you lie about race, for example, that it is not about “race” but “states’ rights” which no one understands because it is meaningless, then you lie for money. The Republicans got away with it under cover of Reagan’s seeming impartiality. Then they learned how to do it on their own. For example, they discovered a successful big lie that “government is too big.”
Why would you do that if the population is going from 150 million to 250 million as a result of baby boomers having babies? Because if you persuade the great unwashed that it is true, then you can cut government, and as Grover Norquist has said, make it small enough to “drown it in a bathtub.” A comment appropriate for someone of Norquist’s rather Aryan-Germanic appearance.
The reason for the “government—too big” lies was that Reagan or Bush, Sr. didn’t empower the Southern racists out of the goodness of their hearts. Big corporations…General Electric, Exxon, the mining companies and people like Walmart needed some help in Congress. They needed those Southern votes. They would give money to Republicans through various organizations and lobbyists. Republicans would elect Southern bigots. Southern bigots would help carry the country for Republican Presidents who would then carry out an agenda for both the Southern-white bigots and the corporations.
Example: GE, Reagan’s old employer, polluted the Hudson River for 50 miles. They don’t want to clean it up, but the government says that eating fish from rivers that are basically sewers and toxic dumps will harm all humans and children in particular. GE finds it is cheaper to hire attorneys rather than clean-up crews.
So here’s where the Neoconservatives and their callous Southern partners come in. They cut government so that there aren’t enough regulators or justice department attorneys to carry on the fight against GE. GE wins. Republicans get more campaign funds. Bigots, as well as the non-human political strategists like fascist Karl Rove ( also coincidentally very Aryan-SS-Himmler looking) get more power and that includes more money.
Make no mistake about it. All these guys are millionaires. If the musical chairs stop tomorrow, Rove or someone who owes him will be worth millions and the money continues to flow even when they are out of power. Money from Super-lobbyists like Jack Abramoff flow through Norquist’s and Ralph Reed’s organizations, as well as American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute and others like water down the Mississippi.
The term “smaller government” is also the great unspoken sentence from Bush’s Treasury Department, Justice Department and SEC that could not stop the financial disaster set up by the Neoconservative Right and played out on the American People.
Does anyone think that a Neoconservative Congressman, a man worth a hundred million dollars, a member of the finance committee, didn’t know that this economic disaster was looming? But he said nothing and encouraged no action.
The Republican Congress knew that there were no regulators. They were cut to the bone by people like Bush’s SEC Chairman, Christopher Cox. And why were they? So that the payoffs to the rich—Bush’s two severe tax cuts—could be carried out and so that GE, EXXON, Goldman, Sachs, Walmart and all their incredibly greedy, wealthy executives could take home millions and even, in some cases, billions—a year! Corporations pay no taxes. Only 7% of government revenues come from corporations. The rich keep about 80% of everything they earn. So who pays the taxes? No one. And that is why we are going broke.
Don’t misunderstand the issue about the Southern Wing of the Republican Party…the bigots. Strom Thurmond would have voted with Ronald Reagan. Jesse Helms would have voted with Ronald Reagan. They may or may not have been paid off with campaign contributions. Most likely they were. But their real payoff was being re-elected…having power in their home states to perpetuate their version of the “Old South.” Confederate flags flying over the Capitol of South Carolina.
It is not pride. It is hate. You see it every day in the media who support them. They don’t sell “Southern pride.” They sell hate…and now it has come into the mainstream with the tea parties. Vile, vicious, racial hatred is exposed in every meeting, every set of nightly rants on Fox News, and every day on the Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity and Beck gossip and propaganda programs. These people are making a fortune. Limbaugh, $40 million a year; Hannity, $20 million a year; Beck, $32 million a year. All perpetuating hatred.
Senators Shelby, Sessions, DeMint, Vitter and others want a return to the old south, where they called African-Americans that specially-coined word, “nigras” which was a deliberate bastardization of the word, “negro.” It wasn’t quite the “n” word but it was at least, from their perspective, a little more denigrating than simply the word “negro.” All these little slights, little digs, little insults are made, astonishingly, to the people that the Southern Republicans’ grandparents had enslaved, as if that weren’t enough. These were supposed to be Americans, a country supposedly know for refraining from kicking people when they are down, especially when you have held them down for three centuries.
There were a number of reasons that the old south was resurrected, not merely politics and Ronald Reagan’s betrayal. During this same period, we had the economic rebirth of the South—from a very low economic level. When you have people who are politically connected they do not normally lose ground in economic competition. By the mid-1970s, we were beginning to see the first effects of globalization. It came in the form of steel imports a decade earlier. After World War II, we had began to rebuild the industries of other countries.
We built a brand new steel industry in Japan, with state-of-the-art technology. They repaid us by coming over here with better steel—they had, after all, our best technology—at lower prices and wiped out our steel business in a matter of twenty years. That wasn’t Reagan. It was the Democrats who were short-sighted and thought that our economic engine would go on forever. Remember—Southern bigots were still Democrats until LBJ by the mid-1960s said that they finally had to stand up and be counted as human beings and good citizens. They failed on both counts.
So it was the Democrats who sent jobs south, built a non-union labor force, and allowed the Asian economic miracle to get rolling. Nothing wrong with that. It was done for the best of motives. To help Asia get going, help them to something like our middle-class existence, one never seen in the history of the world. But we couldn’t do both. Something had to give. And it was the American middle class that took the hit, because that is how economics works.
With our economic and international difficulties in the late 1970s, the country ultimately turned away from Democrats and turned to Reagan. He courageously stood his ground on inflation, caused a huge recession, which probably saved the economy in the long run. But that came at a price. He also initiated anti-union, anti-middle class, and anti-civil rights directives and legislation that sold the African-American community down the river.
The Southern Wing of the Republicans, the former Dixiecrats, enthusiastically joined in the Reagan program to extract their own penalties from America: kill the unions; kill civil rights and move jobs south. That is exactly what happened. Even though the auto industry and a few others remained mostly in the north, heavy industry began to either disappear…there was perhaps one machine-tool manufacturer left in the U.S. by 1985…or move a company to a Southern state until that company,too, disappeared.
The South welcomed businesses with cheaper, non-union labor. So the Southerners became anti-civil rights, anti-union and pro-military. The South became much more pro-military because it suited a tradition. Many Southerners found a home in the Army after World War II, as did their sons who began to retire around the time Reagan entered office. Southern military posts had been protected by the Southern segregationist bloc of Democrats who now were Republicans.
Ironically, the South had a wonderful tradition of honoring turncoat, subversive traitors. These would be the Southern Confederates who revolted against our government in 1860 and caused the deaths of 600,000 Americans before being virtually decimated by the North. These are the most obvious traitors to the United States who ever lived on this continent and yet Southern States like South Carolina still fly that traitorous flag over their Capitol buildings.
So, here we are today. A nation whose Capitol building was built by slaves, asking other countries to be fairer in their treatment of their citizens. A nation that would not allow African-Americans to even die alongside other citizens in the First World War and the Second World War. A nation that imprisoned most of the Japanese from its Western States during the Second World War. A country that with a totalitarian approach, while supposedly elected, under the second Bush Administration simply arbitrarily decided to kidnap and send U.S. citizens to other countries to be tortured and used technicalities to deliberately torture foreign citizens in our own prisons off-shore. A country that put wire taps on its own citizens and secretly obtained the private information about Americans’ reading and viewing habits.
When you are a government built on a lie…that is, your real motives are racial and monetary…it takes very little to turn that government into a plutocracy or a totalitarian regime. We had a partial system like that, autocratic and arbitrary, from 2001 to 2008. It left the country broke and divided. Because of the Bush Administration’s looting of our country’s resources, we face an uphill battle against poverty and the failure of the great promise that was our Democracy.
It must be said. These people perpetuated serious crimes against the People. The remnants of that group, the Neocon Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives act like the fascist or the communists of old, refusing to participate in government, holding strikes and boycotts, encouraging and organizing angry mobs over false issues. They vote in a bloc against any legislation for the people and maintain positions that favor those very racist groups they courted as voters.
People like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld, and Alberto Gonzales, and many lower level functionaries have not been punished for their crimes. Until those people are indicted, tried, convicted and punished for war crimes, for misappropriation of government funds and for numerous violations of government ethics laws, we cannot move forward with a truly fair and democratic society no matter how many African-American Presidents we elect.