Note: I know on Monday I said I was going to post that day’s intended submission today – however circumstances surrounding our President’s decision to double-down on ignorance compelled me to share the following words instead:
The strategy that made Donald Trump’s ascent to the highest possible office in our land was not revolutionary or groundbreaking. Black people in particular knew exactly what he was doing because we’d seen it COUNTLESS times before. Of George Wallace, reputed racist, who once while governor attempted to disregard a federal mandate integrating schools in Alabama by literally standing in the entrance to a school to block access to black students, a fellow Alabama politician (who was a supporter of his) once said the following about comments he’d made as he ran for the presidency:
“He can use all the other issues – law and order, running your own schools, protecting property rights – and never mention the word race. But people will know he’s telling them ‘A nigger’s trying to get your job, trying to move into your neighborhood.’ What Wallace is doing is talking to them in a kind of shorthand, a kind of code.”
Not long after that scenario Richard Nixon questioned the civil-rights agenda that had been put forth by then president LBJ as he (Nixon) was gearing up for his own presidential run:
“Why have ghetto riots and a rise in crime, welfare dependency, illegitimacy, drug use, and joblessness followed the civil-rights revolution?”…Nixon wondered aloud.
His answer to his own question: “There is no structural problem of race or class, only excesses on the part of bleeding heart liberalism”.
Once again these were code words aimed directly at racist hearts who were susceptible to vicious lies due to the unbridled ignorance running rampant across the country. Ignorance that dated back to our nation’s inception. Just imagine living at that time and hearing Nixon’s words even as lynching and segregation was an institution. And yet a candidate for the PRESIDENCY had the nerve to say that there was no “structural problem of race” – and even more dumbfounding it worked! Nixon had successfully employed what had come to be known as the “southern strategy”. A strategy to appeal to xenophobic fears and baseless “rationalies” by directing unfounded theories in the direction of White America.
It actually reared its ugly head again when in 1980 Ronald Regan launched his campaign for the presidency at the Neshoba County Fair in of all places Philadelphia, Mississippi – the same town where three civil rights activists had been murdered by racist bigots. It was there that he posited his own form of racial code when asked about enforcing previously instituted civil-rights initiatives: “I believe in State’s rights”. A deliberate message or eye-wink to the old-boy network signaling that he would not let the federal government intervene in the business of states in the south to stop them from doing what they’d always done to that point: abridge and nullify the rights of black citizens. Jesse Jackson while speaking at Harvard Law School during Regan’s administration asked if the students there knew where Regan had opened his campaign and no one in the room had even heard of Philadelphia, Mississippi – much less realized he started off in that town. Jackson responded: “If even the brightest among us do not uncover these signals, who will”?
It’s safe to say Regan – as a former TV star from Hollywood – did not choose a random town in the deep south where controversy over the murder of civil-rights activists had caused a national outcry because of its cosmopolitan appeal and irresistible night life. Nor for its dense population (even today there’s barely 7,000 people living there) of voters whose sheer numbers could boost his campaign. And if anyone doubted his intentions at the time (or doubts them in 2017) and most informed minds did not incidentally – it was kind of hard for his apologists to explain away his refusal to denounce his Klu Klux Klan endorsement for a week’s time – he finally did so only because public outcry forced his hand (sound familiar?).
Jesse Jackson’s (like him or not) point at Harvard Law was a profound one. The southern strategy can only work if its intended audience is unaware (ignorant) – uneducated on issues of race – or simply racist. And for those who utilize or adhere to the argument in 2017 that the “past is in the past” and that we have “moved on from those days”: Our current President employed that SAME “southern strategy” in his run for office. And, though no one thought it could work – believing that we are not living in the 60s or even the 80s anymore for that matter – it was obviously successful. Donald J. Trump is our 45th president because he – like Wallace – like Nixon – like Regan – and so many other politicians of all sorts before him appealed to prejudiced and racist idealogy living in the hearts and minds of more Americans than many of us believed still existed.
Of the many highly questionable statements Trump made on the campaign trail here are just a few:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”. ( Note he ASSUMED some were good people!).
“I would build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall…”
“Islam hates us,” he said in an interview on CNN (drawing little distinction between the religion and radical Islamic terrorism).
After making that statement Trump was subsequently asked if the hate was “in Islam itself,” and said: “that’s for the media to figure out”.
These are some pretty polarizing statements. And the question one has to ask their self – that is if they TRULY want to assess the motivation behind these types of divisive words is: who exactly is he speaking to? Because he was trying to win an election after all. And it does not take a rocket scientists to right off the bat exclude Latinos and Muslims. Black people and Asians certainly would not respond to that kind of rhetoric. Indian people? Don’t think so. I can only think of one race – collectively speaking – that this type of racially charged language would appeal to. I don’t even have to say it do I?
And what is particularly disturbing and telling is that when he appealed to White Middle and Working Class Americans – he did so in a way that spoke to the “lesser man” within them. Stoking fear about Mexicans crossing the border to rape, rob, and pillage. Demonizing those of Muslim faith. He also – though not listed above – talked about black people and crime – and how we “have nothing to lose”. It worked – but it is pretty damn lousy if you ask me. And to be honest this is not so much and indictment of Trump as it is one on the American people. Because Donald Trump…the “loud and foul mouthed-apolitically correct-traveling circus” entity – would not have been possible had the electorate who voted him into office demanded better from someone seeking to run this country. You can talk about how he said he was bringing jobs back all day long. Donald Trump the candidate – sans the racially charged rhetoric – would not be our 45th president. After all was said and done THAT rhetoric – that coded language – was his foremost appeal to White-America.
We can demand greatness over mediocrity. We can demand respect over disrespect. We CAN kill the “southern strategy” and any other method that does not appeal to the “GREATER man” who also resides within each of us. Otherwise I fear that we are about to witness a further descent into chaos. Unless we check ourselves as a nation we will witness the proverbial chickens coming home to roost because of the sins of the father. The writing is on the wall. Let’s demand that America becomes the best version of herself – that she come out of denial – and that she supersede and purge herself of her racist inclinations once and for all.
Oreos to go: Steve Bannon recently said he thinks the racial issues that have arisen are good for the President. Let’s you know who and what he thinks about Trump’s base.
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.