American Apartheid 2014

I wrote just the other day that Americans should not expect any major progress on immigration reform in 2014. In that post, I pointed to William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), who is on record for warning that if the Tea Party can’t stop immigrant “invasion” there will be violent revolution.

Right Wing Watch then revealed on Friday that Gheen told “an Idaho radio host last month” that he wasn’t racist, he just wants America to be ruled by white people, like it’s always been. He’s a good guy, really, and it’s that immigrant invasion of “muggers” and President Obama who are the villains in this piece. After all, it is Obama who has, he says, been sowing divisiveness among ethnic groups:

Anybody that dares say anything that they don’t like is going to get a label applied to them – sexist, racist, homophobic, anything like that. Because the name of their game is that since America has been traditionally a center-right nation for 200 years, has been predominately governed by people of European descendancy and Christian, different denominations of Christianity and deist backgrounds, they’re trying to knock that down. So they’re looking for any way to create division among any group.

You’ve seen it escalate, I believe, under the Obama administration, an increased tension between white, black and Hispanic; between straight and gay; between male and female; between young and old. Any differences between Americans that they can exploit and accentuate and increase, they don’t miss an opportunity to do it.

Oh where do I begin? A center-right nation for 200 years? America was founded as a liberal nation by a group of liberals and conservatives united in common purpose, who blessed it with a liberal constitution that represents the high-water mark of the liberal (and secular) European Enlightenment. And from this false premise, Gheen builds his argument that America is, and has always been, a nation by and for white Europeans, who just happen to be Christians. And just to further mutilate the historical record, he tries to make deists victims of liberal ideology, the very liberal ideology 18th century deists bequeathed to us.

Oh dear…I wonder if Gheen realizes how like an excuse for rape his reasoning sounds. No, of course he doesn’t.

I suppose what he means – and I think it’s pretty clear from his rhetoric – is that Obama, being “uppity” himself and an “angry black man,” is making other black folks uppity, (the obvious inference here is that Obama should never have been president) and we can’t have that in a white-ruled America. Look at what all those mistaken expectations led to in the pre-Civil Rights Movement South.

Why wasn’t Rosa Parks satisfied just having a seat on the bus, he seems to be asking. Drink at your own water fountain by God and be thankful we’re giving you any water at all!! After all, it’s not all that Republican racism that’s riling up the victims of that bigotry. The problem, he seems to be saying, is not with Republican attitudes but with the refusal of minority groups to accept their historical, as-Jesus-intended-second-class-status. After all, black folks never needed Civil Rights before; hell, they were even happy with their lot in life!

How easy it is to mask your racism behind the status quo! Because it’s always been that way might seem an absurdly weak argument to a thinking person, but Gheen knows his audience. To point to a few examples – children have always worked in factories! Women have never voted! Blacks have always been slaves! Companies have never had to offer benefits before! – would be wasted effort with that audience, and earn you nothing more than a blank stare of incomprehension.

It probably sounds good – no great – to the base. They grasp at any opportunity to have their bigotry validated just as they do their mistaken views of the Bible and the last thing they want to do is expose themselves to facts that might undermine those assumptions and preconceptions. And conservatism provides its own excuse: it’s always been that way! But what Gheen is, is a rank apologist for bigotry. Nothing he has said changes the fact that he is, in fact, a racist. What Gheen is pushing, none too subtly, is apartheid.

Every bit of evidence available points, not to progress, but to a more heavily entrenched and reactionary Republican position in 2014. To date, the GOP has responded to every rejection by the American people by digging deeper into their well of exclusivist politics. Their solution to the public’s rejection of their extreme social positions has been to become not less, but more extreme.

If progress is to be made on any of these social fronts, it will occur only when so-called “establishment” Republicans reassert control over their party, and eject extremist Tea Party and Religious Right (they are largely indistinguishable today) representatives from Congress. To date, that does not seem to be happening. There has been some push back, but not enough. Extremism is too useful to the establishment Republicans. They have created a monster they cannot now control, nor easily rid themselves of in time for the 2014 midterms and 2016 general elections.

The old adage, they have made their bed and must now lie in it, comes to mind, but sadly, millions of Americans have been forced to lie in it as well, and here again the metaphor for rape comes to mind. There, too, the blame the victim mentality is alive and well, and men are somehow only treating women as they were meant to be treated, just as Ghenn intends blacks and Hispanics and other minorities to also “lay back and enjoy it” because, well, that’s how it has always been.
And if that is not enough to get you to the polls in 2014 and again in 2016, I suppose nothing will.

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