Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gingrich’s Racist Appeals Spark Revival


Newt Gingrich’s attacks on “the establishment” and “elites” obscure a deeper truth: the popularity of his racist appeals. Gingrich’s resurgence began when he attacked Barack Obama as the “food stamp president” and went into high gear when he forcefully rebutted charges of racial insensitivity. He got extra points for the latter, as it enabled him to “stand up” to Juan Williams, an African-American reporter. Racism has always played well in the South, and the traditional media has facilitated it. The media looked the other way when Ronald Reagan chose Philadelphia, Mississippi for his post-convention 1980 campaign kickoff, a city primarily associated with the murder of three civil rights activists in the 1960’s. Gingrich’s attacks on the “liberal elite” or the “elite media” are almost identical to the racial coding used by former Alabama Governor George Wallace in his presidential runs. Racist appeals against African-Americans and Latinos now dominate Republican politics from Arizona to Alabama and points in between, with the 1% that controls the corporate media content to look the other way.

It is 2012, nearly fifty years after the passage of the key federal civil rights laws, and it is clear from the Republican primaries and events sweeping the nation that millions of Americans would love to turn the clock back to earlier days.

Newt Gingrich knows that he can be attacked for his divorces, ethics violations, and contract with Freddie Mac, but that he can use racist appeals without fear of losing votes.

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