Tuesday Reads: The Republican Party’s MessPosted: June 23, 2015
I’m sure you’ll recognize the image at the top of this post. The photo was taken at a Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, a couple of years ago. I’ve included other similar photos in this post. Don’t tell me the people holding these flags don’t understand that it is a symbol of racial hatred.
Since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, we have seen shocking overt racism on display by right wing Republicans, and so called “mainstream” Republican elected officials have done nothing to stop it. The simple truth is that the Tea Party is a racist hate group that was formed in reaction to the election of a black president.
As a consequence of Republican officials’ refusal to call the Tea Party what it is, we have seen extreme right wing candidates like Ted Cruz elected to high office and stupid and hateful people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann treated seriously by the media. It’s a national disgrace, and we should begin to hold Republicans responsible for it.
Nikki Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010 as a Tea Party candidate, although she has since fallen out of favor with the group. Yesterday Haley made a cowardly, mealy-mouthed public statement calling for removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds, and yet today she is being celebrated in the media for her “courage.” Here’s part of it:
For many people in our state the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry.
The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people of our state who respect, and in many ways, revere it.
Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. They also see it as a memorial. A way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.
At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state, we can survive and indeed we can thrive as we have done whilst still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here.
We respect freedom of expression. And that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.
But the statehouse is different. And the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way….
One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come. There will be some in our state who see this as a sad moment. I respect that. But know this, for good and for bad, whether it is on the statehouse grounds or in a museum the flag will always be a part of the soil in South Carolina. But this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.
It is South Carolina’s historic moment, and this will be South Carolina’s decision. To those outside of our state, the flag may be nothing more than a symbol of the worst of America’s past. That is not what it is to many South Carolinians. The state house belongs to all of us. Their voices will be heard, and their role in this debate will be respected….
But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capitol grounds.
Why couldn’t Haley just admit that the flag on the her state house grounds is a symbol of resistance to integration and to legal recognition that African Americans should have equal rights; and that decades after the changes brought about by Civil Rights Movement they are still not treated equally by many, including police officers? By the way, maybe she should also consider opposing the efforts of Republicans in South Carolina to prevent African Americans from voting.
Last night I watch Rachel Maddow’s show for the first time in months, and I’m very glad I did. Maddow presented a detailed history of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group whose website inspired Dylann Roof to murder nine African Americans at a prayer group meeting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC last week. The Council of Conservative Citizens grew directly out of the White Citizens Councils that fought to maintain racial segregation in Southern cities in the 1950s and 1960s. From Wikipedia:
The Citizens’ Councils (also referred to as White Citizens’ Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954 After 1956, it was known as the Citizens’ Councils of America. With about 60,000 members across the United States, mostly in the South, the groups were founded primarily to oppose racial integration of schools, but they also supported segregation of public facilities during the 1950s and 1960s. Members used severe intimidation tactics including economic boycotts, firing people from jobs, propaganda, and occasionally violence against civil-rights activists.
By the 1970s, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s and enforcement of constitutional rights by the federal government, the influence of the Councils had waned considerably. The successor organization to the White Citizens’ Councils is the Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1985.
Maddow pointed out that in 2010, Haley Barbour was quickly eliminated from the race for the GOP nomination when he publicly praised the White Citizen Council in his home city of Yazoo, Mississippi. Maddow also interviewed SC Rep. James Clyburn about the history of the Confederate flag that still flies on the SC state house grounds. He explained that that flag was a Virginia flag flown by Robert E. Lee and that it has nothing to do with South Carolina history. It was put up over the SC state house in 1962 as a direct response to the battle for civil rights for African Americans.
Why couldn’t Nikki Haley simply admit that in her statement? Frankly, the Republican Party has allowed itself to become the party of racism and hatred; and it’s time for decent Republicans to face up to that and and deal with it honestly.
She couldn’t even be bothered to say that the thing is a racist symbol. Which has nonetheless not stopped members of her party from celebrating her courage.
The thing is, it’s not really “brave” to take down a flag that never should have been flying in the first place.
I see what Haley is doing as approximately as “brave” as when I clean up cat vomit. You’re supposed to clean up gross messes in your home….
let’s not pretend that it’s a Great Leadership moment, when it took 150 years of fluttering insult, and nine deaths in the last week at the hands of one of the many white people to embrace that contemptible symbol of white supremacy, to pull it off the flagpole.
I completely agree. As I wrote in a comment yesterday, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and fear that should be in the same category as the Nazi swastika and the “n” word. Why should people be allowed to fly it on their own property? Why should more intelligent and sensitive neighbors or even people driving by have to see it?
It’s way past time for Republicans to stop beating around the bush and clean up the disgusting mess in their party, and it’s time for all Americans to recognize that racism in any form is evil.
Here’s a more serious discussion of the meaning of the Confederate flag by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic:
This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.
Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.
This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:
…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states, including Mississippi…
Please go read the whole thing at the link.
Republicans are now arguing that Democrats are responsible for the confederate flag symbolism and for the South’s history of racism. It’s true that Dixiecrats fought to maintain segregation, but most of those old guys switched to the Republican Party back in the Civil Rights era. The Republicans own the mess now, and they need to get busy cleaning it up.
As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments below.