American Vice President Kamala Harris marched with civil rights leaders and proud citizens of Selma, Ala. Sunday to remember a tragic, horrible day in this nation’s racist history.
That day, more than 50 years ago, and while it is historic that a woman of color is part of the presidency and a mixed-race man represented the United States for eight years in this century, the racism remains in a bitterly-divided land called America.
“Today, we stand on this bridge at a different time,” Harris said in a speech before the gathered crowd. “We again, however, find ourselves caught in between. Between injustice and justice. Between disappointment and determination. Still in a fight to form a more perfect union. And nowhere is that more clear than when it comes to the ongoing fight to secure the freedom to vote.”
While Harris marched in Selma, President Joe Biden notes that the progress of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that came out of the aftermath of Selma has been weakened “by the brute force” of racists and bigots in Congress and state legislatures and “insidious court decisions.”
“In Selma, the blood of John Lewis and so many other courageous Americans sanctified a noble struggle. We are determined to honor that legacy by passing legislation to protect the right to vote and uphold the integrity of our elections,” Biden said in a statement.
Biden’s party has been trying to update the landmark law with stronger measures to make it more convenient to vote, but such attempts were stonewalled by the hardcore racists who dominate the GOP.
Working in Washington for 23 years, I saw the racist undercurrent that has been controlling the Republican Party for the too-long bubble to the surface in 1994 when they recaptured leadership of Congress. Legislation limiting the progress of civil rights, along with other racist screeds, became laws of the land.
When Barack Obama was elected president, we saw Republicans eagerly embrace the white supremacy and racism of the Tea Party extremists and the rise of illegal militias and hate groups that included GOP members of Congress.
The election of Donald Trump, often identified as an “American example of Hitler” provided America with a president who embraced those who wanted minorities from our shores. Hate crimes based on social and religious discrimination rose to record levels while the Trump-controlled Justice Department looked the other way.
Trump convinced brain-dead Republicans that they were victims of attempts to drive the “white race into a minority.”
“The message,” Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher told CNN, “is to pour as much gasoline on the fire of White grievance and victimhood as possible to energize and mobilize their vote.”
The news network concludes:
Trump’s rise has been both cause and effect of that swelling grievance. The so-called “Southern strategy,” from which Republicans harvested support from racial conservatives after Democrats nationally embraced the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, proved a formative event in the party’s evolution.
Trump cast restraint aside, opening his winning 2016 presidential campaign by smearing Mexican immigrants as criminals. He kept it up through his losing 2020 contest, when he warned that fair housing laws would destroy suburban neighborhoods, blasted the removal of Confederate symbols and assailed racial justice protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
The GOP rank and file has followed suit. With the Census Bureau projecting that demographic change will make America a majority-minority nation within a generation, most White Republicans now claim the status of victim.
What Republican racism did was turn America itself into a racist nation with decreasing hope that it can ever be salvaged.
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