Thursday, July 25, 2013

True voices

Today's Washington Post has two stories that ought to be read together: one about immigrants, and one about voter fraud. What connects them is the question: Just how racist is the Republican Party?

Note that one story is about leaders (very few in number) trying to distance themselves from one of the party's (take your pick) more honest or less cautious spokesmen. "Hateful" sounds pretty definite, and normally if a politician labels something hateful, I'd say it's sin to him and he's agin it.

These are not normal times in the GOP, though. Jacob Javits is dead and all the Republicans like him. So it is reasonable to wonder whether the nice-sounding GOP leaders will follow through with legislation that demonstrates they really do find Representative King's views "hateful."

RtO will withhold a decision about that till later.

On the other issue, the verdict is in. The rightwing assault on voting rights is pure racism, and everybody knows it.


  1. Harry:

    There is an easier explanation. They are only trying to get the number of people who vote Democratic smaller. This is not racism, just cold electoral calculation.

    BTW, I have a very hard time to understand how to institute ID for voters is controversial in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.

    Back here in Brazil, way more poor and backwards compared to US, this is the rule since many decades ago. Two things you are obliged to have when turning 18 years old: an national ID card and a national voting card.

    Since everyone is obliged to have one, there is no way that this small matter can be used for political gains.

    Well, rest assured that after your many states stars requiring one, in a few years the boost it may give to Republicans (due any lack of Democratic voters with IDs) will dissipate.

  2. There is a strong antipathy, in both parties, to a national ID. Part of our federalism, perhaps. I do not share it.

    The Republicans think brown people will vote Democratic, so the direction of the thinking is race to Democrat, not Democrat happens to be brown.

    That was what the Southern Strategy was about -- detach the Southern racists from the Democratic party, which they supported because the 'Black Republicans' had forced them to live under black officials up to 1890.

    It worked, and over time also drew in racists from parts of the country that had not been under martial law 1865-76.

    We know the Republican party is now the party of white racism because we have hundreds of examples of Republican (often Tea Party) officials sending out blast emails containing coon jokes.

    You don't send out an email blast unless you think all the people on your list share your opinions.

    You are right. It is cold electoral calculation. That is, it has nothing to do with protewcting the integrity of the vote.

  3. Harry,

    You are talking about things I completely ignored. Black officials in 1890?

    I've heard before that in the begin of the 20th century the blacks were more related to the Republican party, and that in the South the democratic party was more associated to racism.

    But I've never stopped to understand what was that dynamics and how it changed. Any good reference?

  4. Allan Nevins is good. But long. He wrote 10 volumes on the Civil War and its aftermath. Volume 5 starts the postwar (Reconstruction) period.

    I know about this less from books than family history, My great grandfather was a Confederate officer, and after he took he oath of loyalty (in 1876) one of the 'Glorious Eight' who restored white supremacy to South Carolina. Not someone to be proud of.

    It took about 15 years after the whites were reconciled to the Union for them to destroy the white liberal/black political alliance. Integrated tickets were still able to elect racial liberals as late as 1890.

    I am sure there are some good overall histories of the South and Reconstruction, but I cannot name one. I read mostly monographs, not general histories.

  5. Harry:

    Very interesting your family history. Sorry to ask, but were you born in South Carolina then?

    Our history and race relations here in Brazil are different. We only abolished slavery in 1888 - my great grandfather was born owning slaves in his farm. But after they were freed, they were basically throw away of most of possible jobs they could get, and the idea of a black person holding public office jobs would take yet some time.

    It is somehow a paradox: I believe we have far less racism here than in US, yet we for sure have done far less to raise blacks from poverty within our society.

    Another difference, of course, is that interracial marriage was (and is) far more common here. There are a few recent american commedy movies making fun of situations involving a white man trying to marry a black woman and the family problems ensuing. It is non sense here to think of that.

  6. Forget my question on where you were born - you just answered in other post.

  7. I have read 'Children of the Night.' Certainly the color line was less important in Latin America (except to the creoles who were so proud of their puro bloodlines), but from my reading (no direct experience), the color line was a class line that was seldom crossed.

    In Cuba, for example, today (from reports I read) the economic status of the Afro-Cubans remains markedly worse than for Euro-Cubans.

    Interracial marriage seems to have produced a stratum of mestizos who are, economically at least, no better off than Afro-Brazilians, Afro-Columbians etc.

    (Much of my thinking has been influenced by a friend who was a Catholic missionary in Bolivia.)

  8. Harry:

    You are right in that the class line was, and still largely is, determined by color. The elite in Latin America is markedly more white than the average population, as in US.

    But it is fair to say that, also as in the US, this is nowadays mostly determined by inherited conditions, other than racism itself.

    Now, within this framework there are still large differences between each country.

    You have countries with very few diversity. Uruguay and Chile, for example, basically expelled their blacks after abolishing slavery, you'll hardly find black people there. Uruguay went even further and exterminated all indigenous population, you'll hardly find anyone there with non-European heritage. Their history museums still have the government ads of a hundred years ago, offering money in exchange for ears of indians - i.e. to prove their death. Argentina had the same politics for a while, but they were way bigger as a country and did not achieve it completely, so you see people there with indigineous traces - but I risk to say that the majority is still European like.

    You then also have countries with a large population being a mix of the indigenous population and the Spanish conqueror, with the ladder of society increasing with the purity of European blood. Bolivia is very much in this class (as Peru, Colombia, Equador and Vanezuela, for example).

    Then you have Brazil, which is quite different from the rest of Latin America. I will not try to explain in details, but our diversity is markedly greater than most of Latin America, and the relationship of color/financial status generally favours white people (and disfavors black people), but the in between is too complex to describe in few lines.

  9. I am not sure I see a real difference between good old fashioned racism and inherited conditions. But I take your point.

    I'll defer to your direct knowledge about racial differences, although I have noticed, watching samba videos from Brazil, that samba, like Christian churches in America, seems to be pretty segregated by skin color.

  10. Harry,

    I don't know if I get your point concerning samba. There are lots of cultural aspects that are color correlated. Samba is to our black community very much what blues is to yours: it started with blacks, but you can find many people of different background making contributions to it nowadays.

  11. Yes, I know.

    But for a long time, and to a degree still, the blues was segregated. The line was, 'Can a white man play the blues?'

    Same for jazz.

    Obviously, I haven't seen all the samba organizations, but the ones I've seen appear to be all one color.