THE HUTCHINSON REPORT
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The relatives of a Black Louisiana sheriff’s deputy are told he can’t be buried in what purports to be a “whites-only cemetery.” Three young Blacks are falsely accused, harassed and harangued for shoplifting at a suburban Southern California Target outlet. Black soccer players report continued harassment and abuse from fans and on social media throughout Europe.
These recent acts a couple days apart dispel any doubt that racism and racists aren’t going anywhere. But then again, it didn’t take the Capitol terrorist assault, or the 74 million votes that former President Donald Trump got to assure that.
Countless polls and surveys during Trump’s Oval Office tenure constantly showed this. No matter how subtle and blatant Trump’s harangues against immigrants, Muslims, and in the case of Blacks, coded blasts at alleged Black Lives Matter violent demonstrations, millions of whites saw absolutely nothing racist in any of this.
It’s tough to get a handle on what is racism, and who can be called a racist because of the often misunderstood definition of what constitutes racism. It’s not just verbally or physically assaulting Blacks or Hispanics, racial baiting and name-calling, or even the more nuanced denial of loans, and hiring or promotions for minorities. There’s plenty of that still, and plenty of whites that engage in those practices.
The seeds were sown long before Trump came along to encase racism with a veneer of political cover, even respectability. Republican leaders never denounced any of the long line of racial bigots and their bigoted actions — and for the most part still don’t.
The gentle handling of inflammatory Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a textbook case. Peddling, pandering to, or ignoring racism and racists within and without the Republican Party has paid and continues to pay for the GOP.
A tip came during a cable talk show appearance in 2010, when then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly refused several direct, angled and nuanced efforts to discuss racism within the Tea Party. The NAACP had just passed a resolution demanding that the GOP speak out loudly against the racists among them. But McConnell was having none of it.
McConnell’s duck and dodge of the issue was no accident. The Republican Party would cut its own throat if it denounced racists and racism and really meant it. That was on display in all its grotesque danger and violence during the Capitol terror assault in January.
Confederate flags, nooses, assaults on Black bystanders and security personnel were some of the ugliest features of the assault. The terrorists draped themselves in a cover of supposedly defending the republic from a takeover by Joe Biden, Democrats and the legions of Black and Hispanic voters that put him in the Oval Office.
There was virtual stone silence from Republican leaders about the attack; that is if more than a few weren’t applauding and egging the attackers on.
The racial ploys that Trump used to masterful effect to reignite the GOP’s traditional white rural and low-income blue-collar workers he stole from the Republican’s ancient playbook.
The GOP could not have been competitive during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and most importantly, Trump’s 2016 campaign, without the bailout from these voters. Much has been made that they are a dwindling percent of the electorate, and that Hispanics, Asian, Black, young, and women voters will permanently tip the balance of political power to the Democrats in coming national elections. White blue-collar voters have shrunk from more than half of the nation’s voters to less than 40%.
In the wake of Biden’s win, the racial lines are so hopelessly muddled and blurred that a person like Trump can simply stick with issues that his loyal base and many other whites want to hear him do something about and come off as racially inoffensive.
In their eyes, that made Trump a populist, someone willing to take on the political establishment. None of this was ever really true about him, but like anything else, perception supersedes reality. And Trump grasped that.
Despite a double impeachment and a second possible Senate trial, Trump and his millions are still as defiant as ever.
There’s also the perception among many Americans that race conflict, strife and violence is largely a thing of an ugly, but bygone past. The rash of civil rights laws, voting rights protections, packs of wealthy, prominent, high-profile African American CEOS, educators, pro athletes and entertainers, and thousands of elected officials, give the comforting appearance that all is well on the racial front in America.
So, it’s no surprise when periodic racial surveys find that many whites don’t see race as the defining problem in America. And other polls find that more than a few whites are willing to point the finger at Blacks, not whites, as the prime racial bigots in the country.
Trump and even violent white racists continue to get a racial pass from millions. The ugly face of their racism will likely get worse, bedeviling Biden and dangerously, the nation.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of the forthcoming “What’s Right and Wrong with the Electoral College” (Amazon Kindle). He also is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.