It is counterintuitive to rational thought and a law of physics that anything remains static after 50 years of passing time. It is just as irrational that people living in the 21st century fail to evolve and a segment of the American population have not progressed beyond the 1950s. Fifty years ago Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of his dream that one day Americans would judge other Americans by the character of their heart and not the color of their skin, and his dream’s fulfillment depended on the passage of time and a shift in people’s values. Fifty years later a large segment of the population has a dream to return America to conditions the Civil Rights movement sought to change, and Republicans are fulfilling their vision of second-class status for African Americans because a majority of the population elected an African American man as President.
Although racial animus never left a segment of the population, it appeared that as a whole Americans had indeed looked at African Americans as human beings worthy of the respect and dignity all citizens deserve, and Dr. King would have been pleased at the apparent progress this country made toward fulfilling his dream. However, due to Republicans propagating racial angst and suspicion toward Barack Obama within days of his election victory in 2008, any progress the nation made toward a semblance of racial equality went out the window. To be fair, only John McCain attempted to put Republican-driven suspicion of Barack Obama to rest during his campaign for the presidency when he told a hate-filled senior citizen that then-Senator Obama was a good American family man whom he disagreed with as far as politics. It was all Republican fear-mongering, suspicion, and denigration for the President from then on that drastically ratcheted up the minute President Obama was sworn in office, and it has only gotten worse since he won re-election to a second term.
To say Republicans, teabaggers, and conservative talking-heads have incited bigots to new heights of hatred borne of their racial animus is an understatement, and throughout it all Republicans have been loath to quell their supporters’ racist angst. In fact, throughout the Republican primaries last year and inherent in the presidential campaign of Willard Romney, blatant and dog whistle racism was part and parcel of the Republican strategy to denigrate the President that exploded after George Zimmerman was acquitted for stalking and murdering Trayvon Martin. It is true there were calls for a race war that marked a new low for the conservative movement over the past two years, but instead of rushing to calm racial hatred, Republicans gave their tacit approval with their silence and fear of conservatives instigating racial hatred for African Americans.
Chief amongst the racial instigators are Fox News, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, and the President revealed why Republicans are wary of putting a stop to the racist antagonism dividing the nation. The President said in a CNN interview that his Republican friends tell him privately, “I’m worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on the radio. And so you got to understand, I’m — it’s really difficult,” and although the President referred to economic policy, Republicans are frightened of dispelling Limbaugh’s assertions that the President is stirring up racial angst among African Americans toward white people.
Conservatives have been on a tear to portray the President as a racially divisive leader with the racists in the population and it was never more evident than when the President spoke at an Arizona high school where a protestors said, “We have gone back so many years, he’s divided all the races. I hate him for that.” The President is not responsible for dividing the races except that, as he said, it is because he had “the gall to win the presidency.” Religious right mouthpiece Pat Robertson said as much this week when he accused President Obama of inciting anti-white violence. The man of god said, “We are having a tremendous amount of black-on-white violence and I have a feeling that instead of bringing racial harmony, having an African-American president has exacerbated the problem.” There it is in a nutshell, and it informs that the problem conservatives, especially Republicans, have with Barack Obama is his race; not his policies or economic agenda. Indeed, Republicans have opposed myriad proposals this President has made that were supported by Republicans and beneficial for the nation and its people, but with an African American in the White House they became toxic for America, the people, and particularly Republicans.
It is noteworthy that most Americans are not racists and do not want a return to the past when segregation, voter suppression, and outright discrimination were the order of the day. However, there are a significant number of Americans who dream of taking America back to the pre-Civil Rights era that Republican-controlled states are pursuing by passing voter suppression laws reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan recently praised segregation and claimed racially separated schools were “the transmission belts of patriotism and traditional values rooted in biblical truths.” Buchanan complained segregated schools would be deemed unconstitutional today regardless they were typically underfunded and did not serve African American students at the same level as “whites only” schools. Still, schools that predominately serve African Americans are systematically targeted for cutbacks and closure by Republicans as evidenced by Michelle Rhee and her successor’s handiwork in Washington D.C.’s poorer school districts.
It is tragic that America appeared to make significant advancements toward fulfilling Dr. King’s dream of people that valued their fellow citizens based on their character and not the color of their skin. In part the end of King’s dream is that it conflicted with Republican racist’s dream of a nation of “angry white guys” that Senator Lindsey Graham lamented were in short supply, and to make sure political power remains in the hands of angry white Republicans they are suppressing minority voting rights and attempting to stop immigrants from gaining citizenship.
Although Republicans and their conservative talking heads have incited the white supremacist crowd to near-frenzy, they still blame President Obama for the racial divide they created since 2009 when the President took the Oath of Office. There was always a racist segment of the population waiting for a reason to resurrect the sentiments of pre-Civil Rights era bigots, and Republicans used the election of Barack Obama to inflame the racial animus typical of 1950. It is good that Dr. King is not around to see his dream that was coming true set back 50 years because it is contrary to Republicans and their racist supporters’ dream who still judge a man by the color of his skin, especially if the majority of Americans chose him as their President.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.