While many Americans are fretting over extremists in the Middle East, or which Republican will prevail in the race to be most offensively barbaric, some people will enjoy a day off of work in honor of a great American. Of course, whether or not an American considers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a great American, or worthy of a federal national holiday, is completely dependent on which political party they claim an affiliation. There is a quote that has several variations and hardly any dispute that the sentiment is gospel truth. Roughly reiterated it goes “I’m not saying all Republicans are racists, but all racists are certainly Republicans.”
If Dr. Martin Luther King were alive today, the Republican would certainly grieve over the blatant racism “his party” has embraced as a major policy platform since Americans elected an African American man as President; twice no less. When Barack Obama won the 2008 general election, many Americans were certain that America had turned the corner and that overt racism and blatant white supremacy was a thing of the past. For many Americans however, Obama’s election was not a transformation of a once racially intolerant society and more of a shift away from war and economic disaster. Still, there was a significant amount of hope that the country’s devotion to racism had waned even though across the former Confederacy Barack Obama was treated like Republicans portrayed him; not an American because he was not a white man.
Since Donald Trump has come on the scene, many pundits like to claim the prevalent racism in Republican ranks is his doing, but that is as absurd as saying Trump and Ted Cruz are pulling the evangelical right closer to being all-out barbarians. That simply is not true. In the same way the religious right has always supported brutality towards any non-compliance regardless of their Republican champion du jour, American racists and white supremacists have been lusting for a race war long before Donald Trump or the GOP officially made racial animus toward people of color part and parcel of party policy and a populist movement among conservatives; especially in the former Confederacy. There are plenty of examples to back up that claim.
For example, the Voting Rights Act was never challenged until African Americans came out in force to vote for an African American man as President. Suddenly there were absurd claims of a pressing need to control voting that inspired Republican-governed Confederate states most affected by the VRA to pass vote suppression laws specifically targeting African American communities. When the challenges finally reached the nation’s highest court, conservative Justices ruled that racism was over and Confederate states could deny people of color the right to vote based on racial animus; the conservative Court knew there was no other reason. What gave away the conservative Justice’s true belief that racism was not dead was their counsel to Congress to “fix” the Voting Rights Act so African Americans could exercise their constitutional right. Since Republicans control Congress, either by majority or by obstruction, there has been no action on the Voting Rights Act because racism.
Racism has become so mainstream among Dr. King’s former party that throughout the 2012 general election campaign using racist dog whistles was a mainstay of Willard Romney and his campaign. Just a couple of weeks ago, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia blatantly stated that African Americans belong in “slower colleges” where they could “keep up academically.” The current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan made his party proud and his base happy when he said that African Americans were responsible for America’s crushing poverty because they “never even think about working or even learning the value of work.”
Racism has gotten so bad that after an epidemic of white law enforcement officers murdering unarmed African Americans, a “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) movement arose only to face more racism from Republicans and conservatives. Even before the BLM movement started, white supremacists and the KKK that have dreamt of a race war to “whiten” America rushed to confront unarmed innocent demonstrators because they were African American and no-one even blinked. In fact, white supremacists have openly endorsed racist Donald Trump because he is speaks their language and represents their best hope of an Aryan nation every time he says “make America great (read white) again.”
It is a sad fact of life that despite the Civil Rights movement, the Voting Rights Act, and election of an African American man as President, racism is as rampant in America as it was when Dr. King marched and revealed his dream. It was a dream that Republicans were never going to allow to come to fruition because it would mean their predilection to use hate for political profit is over. By institutionalizing racial animus as an official party policy, there is precious little any American can do but hope the GOP vanishes off the face of the Earth because although not all Republicans are racists, all racists are Republicans and as long as they control America Dr. King’s dream will remain a dream.