Racist politics, like cockroaches, survives. Though muted for many decades prior to the election of Donald Trump, it has re-surfaced from hiding with a fierceness that has surprised many. A “post-racial” America under Barack Obama? Hardly.
In Virginia, politics and racism have come blackface-to-face for state leaders who, 30-40 years ago, thought nothing of mimicking African-Americans. Those leaders have offered apologies, and the governor is seeking ways to heal the offense and demonstrate remorse.
Worse, however, are new, present-day actions that bring us back to the Jim Crow era.
An editorial was published February 14 in a small-town Alabama newspaper. It was written by Goodloe Sutton, publisher of the Democrat-Reporter in Linden, Alabama. From the editorial:
Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again. Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats [sic] are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama…. Seems like the Klan would be welcome to raid the gated communities up there. They call them compounds now. Truly, they are the ruling class…. Sutton added, If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all be better off. We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.
Sutton, further, compared the Klan to the NAACP. “A violent organization? Well, they didn’t kill but a few people,” Sutton wrote. “The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”
A first inclination might be to consider this a one-off event—an aging, veteran Alabama newsman hearkens back to the life he enjoyed in his prime. But incidents of this type are happening far too frequently to be one-offs.
This resurgence of racist politics closely parallels an ever-increasing public expressions of white supremacy, something that many of us thought was long dead—at least until Charlottesville. Where is it coming from? Why is it manifesting in the Trump era?.
No doubt, the election of Barack Obama infuriated millions of people; this fury festered for 8 years. And along comes a presidential candidate who, with a wink and a nod, expresses disdain if not hatred for Obama. Obama becomes the black icon who “we all love to hate.” Bellowing the “birther” fantasy, racist politics were skillfully cultivated. Sutton’s editorial makes clear that the Democrats have taken away from whites and given to blacks. For Midwesterners, especially, reliable jobs have disappeared. Who better to blame than Obama and the Democrats—especially with the leading GOP candidate loudly proclaiming, almost daily, that this is the fact?
Beneath all this is fear fueled by ignorance. Fear of the “other.” If you’re white, fear of blacks. If you’re Republican, fear of Democrats. If you’re out of work, fear and resentment of younger people with jobs. If you haven’t been part of the American success story, it’s hard not to feel cheated. Combining fear with ignorance is a prescription for anger and hate.
But how to combat the racism, the white supremacy, the hate? Ah, there’s the rub. Virginia has a chance to show the rest of the country how to begin.
Alabama newspaper editor who urged Klan to ‘ride again’ replaced by African-American woman
After the publication of the editorial created a nationwide furor, it was announced that Elecia R. Dexter, a “strategic leader with expertise in human resources, operations, and change management,” took on the positions of editor and publisher on Thursday, the 21st, just 7 days after the editorial appeared. Sutton still owns the paper, she noted.