Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Land of Non-Surprise: Mitt Romney, Candidate for a Nativist Party, Channels KKK Slogan, to Win Over Nativist Voters

Once more, we have proof that there is no liberal media in the United States. There is only a corporate media, one that is vulnerable to hostage taking by the Right.

Mitt Romney channels a slogan from the Ku Klux Klan that "we" ought to "keep America American"  (or its more "polite" cousin, "Keep America, America"). MSNBC reports Romney's repeated use of this phrase. The Right-wing blogosphere cries "foul" and "unfair." Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton issue apologies to Mitt Romney for unfairly attacking his character.

There are two elements to this story that demand exploration.

First, the suggestion that a Republican candidate, one who is trying to sure up his conservative bonafides to a white populist base, would mine the rhetoric of the Klan (or deploy racially bigoted, xenophobic, and resentful sentiment and slogans more generally) is not at all a surprise. In fact, the politics of white racial resentment and white victimology have been central elements in Republican political strategy for five decades.

While folks are centered on the silly and distracting question--is Mitt Romney a racist or in the KKK--they should in fact be focused on the Republican Party's masterful use of a politics of white racial resentment, nativism, and disdain for the Other. Context matters. Consider the circus that is the Republican Party's presidential primary field for the election year 2012, and the policies they have endorsed.

1. Electric fences and moats to kill illegal immigrants;
2. Suggesting that black people are lazy, and their children should serve as janitors in order to develop a work ethic;
3. Wallowed in the filth of Birtherism, and indulged in rank, open bigotry against the country's first black President;
4. Suggested that Muslim Americans should be profiled (perhaps they should carry special cards? or wear a mark on their clothing?) because of their religion and a propensity to commit "terrorism";
5. Include a candidate who leisured at a family retreat named "Niggerhead" and grew up in sundown town;
6. Are beholded to the Tea Party, a faction and AstroTurf group which can trace its origins back to the white supremacist, white nationalist, John Birch Society (the former is also a group whose racist tendencies have been well-documented).

The Republican Party's rhetoric of "real America," "our America," "take our America back," and Romney's Klan-inspired slogan of "Keep America American" is based on a simple premise of "us and them." Patriotism and nationalism have almost always been infused with appeals to white racism. Given that America's history is one where to be American, meant that one had to be "white" in the eyes of the law, this ought not to be a surprise. Black folks have long been the anti-citizen, the group against which immigrants and others triangulate their belonging and group membership.

The symbolic racism indulged in by the Republican Party, especially as seen in their race baiting against Barack Obama, are dependent on a basic understanding that to be "American" one must first and most importantly be "White" (and to a lesser degree Christian). In the post-Civil Rights era, those appeals have to be hidden behind dog-whistles and coded speech.

The second teachable moment in Mitt Romney's channeling of the KKK's slogan is that historically, America is a profoundly racist country. In fact, there was no language with which to stigmatize such sentiments; "racism" was just "the law," or "commonsense," what was a "natural" way of doing things. For example, the Constitution of the United States is an explicitly pro-slavery, pro-white, herrenvolk, Apartheid document. With approximately 3 million members, the KKK was one of the most important civil society organizations in American history throughout the early part of the 20th century. Their "march on Washington" was one of the largest gatherings in the country to date.

The Civil Rights Movement, only four decades or so in the past, is a recent development. For most of the United States' history, to become a naturalized citizen a person had to be of demonstrable, and certifiable, "white ancestry" and "good stock." People of color, and "questionable" whites (Southern and Eastern Europeans), were not "fit" for American citizenship. In all, pluralist, Multicultural America, the one that elected Barack Obama, is a hiccup, a curiosity, and a very recent development in American history.

The nativism, xenophobia, and "polite" bigotry of the Republican Party, with its most recent appeals to white populism, are part of a larger pattern. In much the same way that the Tea Party brigands displayed posters of Barack Obama as a monkey or a gorilla, Mitt Romney may not even know the origins of "keep America American." But, it resonates with his audience.

More generally, Republican candidates who talk about "the pro-America parts of the country," and "real Americans," may not know about the deep relationship between nationalism, white racism, and the murder and exclusion of non-whites from the polity and public sphere. But, the words are warm and welcoming. The slogan excites them. It makes populist conservatives feel good about something; they belong to a community of "special" people, with privileged insight, and an elect commandment from on high; they are the sacred keepers of American exceptionalism and the Founding Father's prescient wisdom.

Ultimately, Mitt Romney's use of the Klan's slogan is not about responsibility: I could care less if he is a dyed in the wool racist or bigot; in fact, I suspect that he likely is not one.

And of course, how can one overlook the irony of a Mormon, a group none too popular with the KKK, channeling one of their most famous slogans.

However, the use of such language is important because of the questions surrounding causality, consequences, appeal, and sentiment. As we work through Romney's KKK turn of phrase, we cannot forget that White supremacy is part of the ether and air that all Americans, across the color line, inhale and breathe. It is part of the country's collective subconscious. An American can no more escape it, than a fish can water.

Consequently, the bigger and more important element here is the type of political work that such historically racist--but in the present--"race neutral" appeals do for Tea Party GOP candidates who are focused on destroying the United States' first Black President by any means necessary. As the late, oft-quoted, Republican political strategist Lee Atwater alluded to, Republicans most certainly cannot call black people "niggers" anymore and expect to win elections. However, Republicans can do everything to remind their white voting public, the conservative heart and soul of their party, that a President who happens to be black, most certainly, is not one of "them."

This is the truth, that MSNBC, in walking back the obvious connection between Mitt Romney, the KKK's racism and nativism, and the political gamesmanship of the Tea Party GOP, is afraid to make clear and transparent.

The Fourth Estate fails again.


Improbable Joe said...

You DO know what the issue is, right? First, I thought it was this:

There is a non-trivial number of racists on both sides of the aisle, and MSNBC (and the media in general) wants their viewership. To get too deep into racism outside of their normal script might alienate a few viewers, and that costs profits, and profits are all that matter.

But then... oh, but then! I realized that it is probably more important to preserve comity in The Village. Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate, which means that while Democrats in the Beltway will vote for Obama they will feel a pang of sadness for a Romney loss, because he vacations where they vacation and his campaign and PR folks went to school with them and their friends. So it is imperative that the establishment media disappear Romney's racist gaffe, because after all it might cause uncomfortable conversation at the spring cotillion or some such white people social event.

Plane Ideas said...

Thankfully we have WARN!!!

Southern Girl said...

Romney is pathetic. He panders to the very group that hates him because he is a mormon. Is the new campaign strategy borrowed from the klan...YES. I saw a very interesting documentary about the klan a few months ago. One of their most successful periods was when they used slogans like "keep America American" and sported flags, USA paraphenalia and racist signs They made hate equal to patriotism. If you added a couple of iphones and some 2nd grade spellers to the vintage reel on their march on Washington...
BAMM...the modern day tea party. Will it work for Romney?...check the polls in a week...

"this racism is killing me"

Constructive Feedback said...

Chauncey DeVega - et al:

One day you will become a 100% serious brother.

Until this time you will continue to use this blog for petty, ideologically bigoted exploits.

Despite your post the other day challenging Academics to enumerate what they have done to help poor Blacks - it is YOU, per your exploits that do far more damage to "Educated Negroes" who seek to channel their consciousness through ideological and political shenanigans that prove more self-satisfying.

This week Romney will be a Klansman.
Next week which ever GOP candidate that is positioned to take on Obama will be the man who built the "KKK Snowman" from last winter.

Despite all of this, Mr DeVega - you will have that kernel of sand in your heart that bothers you so - DESPITE this apparent contentment.

The same Chauncey DeVega that feels so much comradeship with his friends on line will have to return to his engagement with "Poor Black Kids" - the knowledge that his ideological and political antics are askew from the MISSION that our people sought to fix in the 'American Political Domain'.

They did not know that Blacks would BECOME A PART OF "The Political Domain" - losing themselves all the while.

NO it is NOT your statements about Romney that proves this about you. It is the PATTERN of what you show as your priority that exposes you.

chaunceydevega said...

@Constructive. You are so much fun constipated feedback! You have my attention. What do you want from me? I know you blog by proxy and you expend a great amount of energy on that project.

I have a suggestion, why don't you take 1/100th of the energy you spend on your numerous failed projects and spend it on helping "poor black kids." You could do fundraising, build schools, do tutoring, get a grant to apply your schemes at urban empowerment, run for office...and all before 10am.

I have touched young people's lives, I have reached out and actually mentored "poor" and "disadvantaged" black kids in high school through to professional school who are now doctors and lawyers.

What have you tangibly done? Please share. You are a master of various programs such as ms paint, power point and the like, apply those tools introspectively.

What have you done brother?

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]. What do you want from me?
why don't you take 1/100th of the energy you spend on your numerous failed projects and spend it on helping "poor black kids."

**You could do fundraising,
** build schools,
** do tutoring,
** get a grant to apply your schemes at urban empowerment,
** run for office...and all before 10am.

I have touched young people's lives

My dear friend Chauncey DeVega:

How are you today, brother?

Do you mind if I ask you ONE QUESTION?

Of all that you have enumerated in your "Mass Touching" HAS IT WORKED TO SCALE OF THE PROBLEM?

Do you recall the "Air Conditioning" diagram that you gave me mild praise for? You just told me that YOUR air conditioner blows the coldest air that any other Negro has ever gotten it to chill to based on your process.

UNFORTUNATELY, Mr DeVega - your "fridge" sits upon the turf of the Super Dome - seeking to provide cooing for the entire enclosure.

Do you mind if I tell you a story Mr DeVega?

Until last year I DID a weekly mentoring program in East Point Georgia. Young Black male "project kids". YES - it was run by "Black Progressives". You should have heard the joy upon Obama's election among my adult peers - both the "educated Negroes" and the "local mothers who assisted".

With 2.5 years under my belt, Mr DeVega I noted a few disturbing truths

1) NOT ONCE did I EVER see any of these young Black male's fathers bring them or pick any of these kids up. I saw mothers, sisters and older brothers come. NO FATHERS.

2) Each week I had to negotiate with my wife on how her schedule could match mine - and when I could come home to watch the kids. This program asked me to leave MY FAMILY to provide cover for a Black man who SPERM IS EQUAL to mine.

3) The program came to a close as the "Black Progressives" from the Northside got past their "community outreach" sentiments and realized their frustration with the lack of commitment from many of the parents to consistently send their kids.

TO BE CLEAR, My friend Mr DeVega - there are some EXCELLENT mothers who are fully committed toward managing their child's educational career. The varied level of discipline and literacy was obvious.

As the program came to an end I vowed to NOT AGAIN place myself in a situation where MY "commitment to the Black community" EXCEEDED that of OTHER BLACK (MALE) EQUAL HUMAN BEINGS" and what they were compelled to do by "thought leading Negroes" WITHIN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.

Constructive Feedback said...

The problem is, Mr DeVega, is that these present models DO NOT SCALE.

We have a CULTURAL problem.
We have a lack of tie in between the COMMUNITY GOALS and the day to day actions and participation rates in support of them.

I reject the "Talented 10th" model, Mr Thrasher.

Such segmentation produces a 55% middle who "Gets In Where They Fit In" and then a 35% Black Inferior "Least Of These" - assumed to be too damaged to help their own efforts.

Mr Oh Crap - when you hear the story of the unkempt bathrooms in Black schools and the 'insult' which suggests that BLACK PEOPLE clean up these bathrooms ourselves - does it bother you that the ideological battle is allowed to hijack reason?

The RESPECT FOR INSTITUTIONS within our community is at an all time low. The notion that the building that your kids spend 7 hours of their day, with filthy bathrooms and yet those who believe that it is their SOCIAL JUSTICE RIGHT to clean bathrooms are willing to STRUGGLE for this as an index of equality but are never seen bring scrub brushes, Ajax and a White man named "Mr Clean" into their own damned community schools because it is an INSULT to ask them to clean the bathroom?

Is THIS where we have come to Mr DeVega?

Do your theories SCALE?
Why are you unable to ask the young Black male who is "sagging" WHAT HE HAS DONE to advance the ball - as you ask ME to detail?

You partner me with 2 Black males that respond when someone calls out "The Least Of These", agreeing to hold US ALL EQUALLY ACCOUNTABLE for moving the ball forward and I assure you, Mr DeVega - I will do my part - EQUALLY.

Ms. Bunny Easter said...

I hope we are not going to turn the other cheek here by following the Mainstream Media narrative over Romney's religion. After all, this is the same media that gave Barack Obama, the Trinity United Church of God, and Reverend Wright a thorough raping in 2008. It is also the same media that omits the name "Mormon" or "Latter Day Saint", when reporting on Mormon polygamist, child rapist, such as Warren Jeffs. The media politely refers to these bigamist pedophiles as LDS Fundamentalists.

It is naive of us to accept that Romney, who has spent his entire life in a church whose doctrine is blatantly white supremacist, as not bigoted. Not only did the Mormons declare dark skin a curse, but a permanent disfigurement. That is, until God removes it. Apparently, God hasn't spoken as of yet. The Mormon Church has never apologized for this tenet. Nor has it been removed from official church doctrine.

Furthermore, there appears to be nothing in Romney's repertoire that reveals a man who embraces diversity. He has lived in a very white, male dominated culture. That would include his religion. He presents a plastic, rigid appearance that's not comfortable around ordinary people. Huntsman exhibits that same strange behavior. However, in spite of Romney's 1950's sitcom persona, beneath it all is a frustrated, lying weasel.

Mainstream Media rarely accepts black people's definition of racism. It isn't racism until they say it is. That's why Romney's chant was considered acceptable. The hardcore racism of the Republican Party accompanied by the treachery of the Herman Cains and the Clarence Thomases- are considered fair game. I don't know of any group that has to suffers this indignity-but us.

Romney has some explaining to do. Don't let the media sway you. Hell yeah, his religion is an issue. Besides, anybody that believes the following is not mentally competent to be the president of the United States:

Mormon Beliefs

.God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.

.Jesus was married.

.Jesus and Satan ("Lucifer") are brothers.

.Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father by having sex with Mary, who was temporarily his wife.

.Dark skin is a curse from God, the result of our sin, or the sin of our ancestors. If sufficiently righteous, a dark-skinned person will become light-skinned.

.The Garden of Eden was in Missouri.

.Christ will not return to earth in any year that has seen a rainbow.

.Mormons should avoid traveling on water, since Satan rules the waters.

.The sun receives its light from the star Kolob.

.If a Gentile becomes Mormon, the Holy Ghost actually purges his Gentile blood and replaces it with Israelite blood.

.A righteous Mormon will actually see the face of God in the Mormon temple.

.You can identify a false angel by the color of his hair, or by offering to shake his hand.


Oh Crap said...

@Constipated Faceplant:

Mr Oh Crap - when you hear the story of the unkempt bathrooms in Black schools and the 'insult' which suggests that BLACK PEOPLE clean up these bathrooms ourselves - does it bother you that the ideological battle is allowed to hijack reason?

Umm, I'm a Ms., dumbfrack.

But since you, a sniveling Black con who evidently thinks you are in some kind of competition with me asked, I'll toss you a bone.

Didja notice? That suggestion came from one of the white conservatives you are trying to impress.

These filthy white Sharecropper 2.0 confederates you personally support are indeed allowed to repeatedly troll the voting populace with social-baiting bullshit like "axe child labor laws, can the janitor's unions, and make 'inner city' kids clean out shit from toilets."

Why do you allow it, yet instead blame me when the political conversation runs off the rails?

Why doesn't it bother you?