True Confessions of a Conservative White Republican

My goodness!  How the times are changing.  The truth is finally emerging from the center of the Republican Party, and at least one key GOP member is in full public confession before God and man.  That confession is contained in the article at the safe link below. If you plan to read only one more news story this year, it has to be this must read article:

A Republican Intellectual Explains Why the Republican Party Is Going to Die

As I was reading through this article, my mind was drawn to my dead evangelical Christian uncle in Nashville, Tennessee. For many decades, he was a Southern Democrat and a persistent racist opposed to civil rights for African-American citizens. When the Democrat Party became the party of civil rights in the middle 1960s, my uncle and many other southern haters of African-Americans felt they had been kicked out into the street.  They needed a new political home.  In 1968, Richard M. Nixon saw these great masses of white, disaffected, southern racists and invited them into the Republican Party as part of what he called his Southern Strategy to win the 1968 Presidential election.  My uncle was delighted to sign on with Nixon because he honestly thought the Republican Party had converted to his values: racism against African-Americans, supporting white people, forcing hippies to get a haircut and take a bath, strong support for the Viet-Nam War, etc. However, of all his so-called values, I most remember his racism against African-Americans, which was clearly the defining center of his white American conservatism.

My evangelical uncle was not a man who followed the conservative philosophy of William F. Buckley, Jr. Indeed, I do not recall him ever mentioning Buckley’s name in any discussion we had about politics—even when I lived with him and his wife throughout the hot southern summers of 1971-1975.

My Republican uncle’s racism against African-American people was often on display in many of the conversations I had with him between 1971 and 1983.  I have listed some of the things he said and did in quotation marks below to give you the real flavor of the kind of southern racism that most likely persists even today among many white fundies and other white members of the GOP.  Here are just a few of my uncle’s typical sayings and doings:

(1) “It is absolutely essential for white people to keep the black man down, under submission, and under white control.  They hate us white people—every last one of us—because we enslaved their ancestors.  And they have every right to feel that way too. Enslaving them was wrong.  If they had enslaved us white people, we would feel exactly the same way toward them. But right now, we white people have to focus on protecting ourselves.  If black people ever gain enough power to take over and run this country, they will kill every last white person in the United States—and they will be right in doing it because of the way we mistreated them.  Oppressing them and keeping them down is the only way we white people stand a chance for survival.”

(2)   “I do not believe in evolution as far as the whole human race is concerned. Adam and Eve were created by God and were the first two white people. All of us white people descended from them, as did the other races—except for the negro. I am willing to seriously consider the very real possibility that all the members of the negro race today evolved and descended directly from African ape ancestors.”

(3)     Another thing my uncle would do is sit in front of the TV and watch basketball games and presentations of the the local news on WSM-TV.  The news anchor would begin the local news by saying: “Five people were murdered last night during a robbery attempt in downtown Nashville.  Metro police have arrested six men in connection with this crime.” The station would then break away to a quick commercial.  After the commercial, the news folks would roll the videotape of the suspects being brought into the Metro jail in downtown Nashville.  Then my uncle would yell out: “Damn it!!!  I knew it!!!  I knew it!!!  It was a bunch of damned n-words that killed those people!  It’s always the n-words!!!  You can just depend on it!!!”

He loved watching basketball on TV because he had been a high school coach for girl’s basketball. In college or pro games that came down to the wire—and his team lost by only one point—he would cry out: “Damned n-word son-of-a-bitch blocked the final shot!!!”  He liked African-American basketball players because, in his view, they had inherited amazing athletic coordination and agility from their grape-vine-swinging ape ancestors like Cheetah, the boisterous chimpanzee in the Tarzan movies. My uncle just did not like the African-American  players who blocked last second shots by his team.

(4)    My uncle would often say, “The negro race is a naturally immoral race.”  He said this one frequently over the years.  He honestly and sincerely believed that all African-Americans contained some sort of severe genetic defect that rendered them unable to do what is morally right—that made them behave erratically, instinctually, and lasciviously like wild animals.  This was a level of immorality that existed on a much lower plane than the normal sins all white people, Asian people, and American Indians are prone to commit on a daily basis.  In his mind, no matter how hard an African-American person tried to do the morally right thing, it would almost always end in failure because black people are just genetically incapable of consistently doing the right and moral thing.  This also explained their criminality—in his mind.  He was absolutely and irretrievably convinced of this.

For all of you British readers out there, my uncle would also frequently say: “The British  race is a naturally immoral race.”  My uncle tended to view the subject of race in both biological terms and national boundary terms.  Although he never said so directly, it was pretty clear to me that he did not think of whites in the 13 American colonies as being descendants of the naturally immoral white populations in the United Kingdom. Rather, white Americans represented the intellectual, moral, and cultural perfection that white British people could have achieved if they had just been born Americans.

Well, that is enough recollection of my dead Republican uncle’s sayings. I always wondered where my uncle got all of these weird ideas about race and racism.  It was not all a function of his personal experience growing up in a Southern cultural regime.  He was never a member of any white supremacist organization such as the Ku Klux Klan. However, on a few rare occasions, he suggested to me that he had been influenced in his high school or early college years by the books and writings of what we view today as the racial pseudoscientists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries—the same sorts of writers that had influenced his contemporaries like Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler in their youthful days. Given that my uncle was raised in a small Tennessee village with no public library, one has to wonder how he would have come into contact with such books and writings—unless they were on the shelves in the high school and college libraries of the early 20th century.  It further makes me wonder how many other white Americans in the age range of 70 to 100 today might have come in contact with such books and writings and believed the pseudoscientific garbage in them.

I will close by making this simple point.  My evangelical uncle was a perfect example of the racism we still see today in many of the white Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Republicans who are now supporting Donald Trump. When Richard Nixon invited great masses of disaffected white racists into the Republican Party in 1968, I suspect he thought of them as a controllable minority within the much larger GOP.  Nixon suffered from extreme paranoia, but apparently that paranoia did not extend forward in time to a nightmare scenario where these white racists and a cabal of other miscreant nutjobs would unite to take over the entire Republican Party and thereby pose an existential danger to the Republican Party itself and to the United States of America.  That very real danger has already come, and it faces us all in the November 2016 election for President of the United States—and very few of these white, racist Republicans who support Donald Trump are in a confessional or repentant mood today.

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