[Update] Right-wing bringing racism back

In a recent article titled "What Too Few Progressives are Prepared to Discuss," Bill Fletcher convincingly argued that a "white nationalist" right-wing populism lies at the heart of the Republican Party's electoral strategy. The "right-wing uses black and brown characters as the way of convincing segments of the white populace that something needs to be done, otherwise these colored peoples will be taking over," he wrote.

Given this, one notes how Republicans, their media, and their right-wing front groups have moved into full campaign mode as  racist statements, imagery, and stories surface to dominate public discourse.

Usually this is done in code, where terms like "hard working Americans" or "middle America" are clearly exclusively used to refer to whites as heroic protagonists while people of color serve as models of all that is wrong.

Some recent examples, however, show some right-wingers trying to blow the lid off of coded proprietary white supremacist racism.

After President Obama successfully swatted down Trump's "birther" PR stunt, the right's racist revival restarted in mid-May, with Newt Gingrich's reference to President Obama as a "food stamp president" who wants to turn the country into a version of Detroit – not the auto industry capital but rather the majority African American city troubled by generational economic decline. As Joan Walsh notes in her reading of Gingrich's comments, the former House Speaker who was ousted for corruption, deliberately chose those words not because they detailed an honest critique of policy but because they were laden with deliberate racial messages understood by the political constituency whose support he needs in order to become president.

More recently, Fox Business host Eric Bolling into a tirade against President Obama laced with racist stereotypes. Commenting on a White House visit by Gabonese President Ali Bongo, who also happens to chair the UN National Security Council at the moment, Bolling said, "So what's with all the hoods in the hizzy?," going on to say, "It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse," a reference to a recent poetry reading at the White House in which respected hip hop artist Common participated.

Clearly, Bolling's intention wasn't to crticize President Obama for a relationship with a head of state with a troubling human rights record. Bollign could care less about human rights. The issue never torubled him enough to criticize the serious human rights problems of George W. Bush, nor did he ever express concern about Bush's many troubling relationships with heads of state with seriously flawed human rights records, oh, for example, Gadhafi.

No, Bolling's point – like Gingrich – was to do exactly what Fletcher sees as the common right-wing populist practice: too make the point as often as possible that people of color are taking over and white people should be afraid.

Hard on the heels of Bolling's rant was a racist attack ad by right-wing political action committee Turn Right USA against Democrat Janice Hahn, a candidate for the special congressional election in California's 36th district. The attack ad contains images of African American men pretending to be gang members, waving guns over offensive rap lyrics with Hahn's head super-imposed on an image of a woman pole dancing. The video also contains images of a Communist Party USA symbol.

Again the aim isn't so much about criticizing any specific policy. Apparently, as a Los Angeles council member, Hahn supported a gang intervention program that successfully helped young people avoide that life, and which has been cited for helping to reduce L.A.'s violent crime rate. Surely Turn Right USA isn't pro-violent crime? (Though its funders are probably opponents of gun control laws aimed and reducing gun crimes. So who knows.)

The goal of such a baltantly racist ad is to provide an impression that Hahn sides with racial minorities who are imposing "gangster" values on white poeole.

Turn Right USA is a shady front group that hides the details about its donors, but one thing it admits to is its belief in the Glenn Beck-promoted conspiracy that billionaire George Soros is behind just about every left-wing initiative from communism to health reform and climate change policies. That particular conspiracy theory suggests the group's affiliation with the Birchers and wingnuts at World Net Daily, which get a lot of play on various Fox News programs.

It is evident that this election will again be about race and white supremacy, as Fletcher suggested. It demands a strong response from the anti-racist majority in both organizing activism against racist hate speech promoted by the right and in mobilizing for the elections over the next seventeen months.


The Planned Parenthood Action Fund released this statement about the Turn Right USA video:

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund demands that Craig Huey [Hahn's opponent, ed.] condemn this outrageous, racist, sexist web ad attacking his opponent, Janice Hahn. 

This web ad is far out of bounds and promotes offensive language and imagery that has no place in today’s political dialogue.  It is derogatory and simply unacceptable.

If Huey does not condemn this ad, then the voters in California will know that Huey would rather place ugly and crude politics ahead of women’s health and rights.

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  • Well stated. But this piece does not go far enough in explaining why so-called "white", "hard-working", "middle Americans" seem to consistently vote against their own interests. Yes, at bottom is the issue of white supremacy/white racism, a contrived, "socially constructed" phenomenon that actually was conceived and instituted by rich "white" planters some 400 years ago when they pitted European indentured servants against African indentureds. Their purpose was to maintain their elite position at the pinnacle of the socio-economic pyramid. Through what Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow)calls America's first "racial bribe" they convinced European indentureds that the absence of skin color signified the essence of human identity. They went further. They offered them "freedom dues" once their terms of service were completed: land, tools, seed, foodstuffs. "Whiteness" became a real and tangible thing, a valuable commodity or property, while their African counterparts were rendered "black" and relegated to hereditary lifetime bond servitude, and became fungible "property" themselves.

    This explains why many, many "whites" value their whiteness so highly and jealously. No matter how bad things may get under the auspices of a reactionary (Republican) government, at least they have their "whiteness", their humanity, which no "black" person can ever share.

    Posted by Herb In Chicago, 06/17/2011 1:50pm (13 years ago)

  • Thanks for an informative, albeit scary, article. What scares me the most is the number of working class/middle class whites who are jumping on the racist Tea Party bandwagon. We definitely have our work cut out for us. The right has been much more successful in convincing poor and middle class folks to vote against their own interests than the left has been in educating them to demand their rights.

    Posted by Rev. Paul White, 06/16/2011 10:32am (13 years ago)

  • Thanks for informative post, especially since one has to pay $40 to read Bill Fletcher's blog.

    Posted by Patricia Bee, 06/16/2011 3:33am (13 years ago)

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