Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Will McCorkle: Is Race-baiting setting back racial and national progress?

  If you look at U.S. political history, there is a common theme. The rich and powerful have to find a way for the poor and middle class to support their cause and economic ideas. To do this, they often use race. One example would be the way poor Southern whites supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, even though the economic system of plantations and slavery was actually limiting their own possibilities. The poor southerners would at least be more powerful and not have to worry about the African-Americans around them if the system continued the way it was. Another famous example was Nixon's Southern Campaign, where he used the Republican's own opposition to the Civil Rights Movement to convince white southerners to switch to the Republican Party... and it worked.

  Today, this old tactic is still being played. We saw it recently with the whole debacle surrounding the "edited" video of Shirley Sherrod, where her video where she explained how she learned to overcome racial hatred after her father was murdered by a white man and the man was easily acquitted by the all white jury was twisted into proving that she was a discriminatory racist. You can see it on outlets such as FOX News as they try to spark up fear of undocumented workers, painting them as criminals, lazy, and damaging to society. Of course, this ultimately leads to negative feelings to the whole Latin American population. You can see it with the "charges" against ACORN that were made by the right. More recently, you can see it in the passage of the highly racially charged new immigration law out of Arizona. You can also see it with the attempt to link Obama with in the words of Glenn Beck to, "a hatred for white people."

  Why is this done? It is a way to keep the poor and middle class white vote fearful and angry in order to mobilize them to be used for the cause of the wealthy and powerful. It is the same tactic that has been used for the last 150 years. If race were not still an issue, groups like the Tea Party would lose a great deal of their momentum. Republican white voter turnout would be lower. Now, it needs to be made clear that not every Republican or Tea Party member is a racist, not by a large stretch. However, race is being constantly used by the right to help strengthen these movements and the white vote.

  What are the outcomes of this race baiting? For one, it is going to hurt the Republicans in the long run. The population under 18 is now shown to be 47 percent non-white. Whether people like it or not, the racial demographics are greatly changing. There is no way that the right can continue to push this race baiting and still hope to remain relevant in the future. More importantly, this phenomenon is continuing to keep racial relations from improving, and may be in fact, setting back racial relations in the nation. After living out of the country for a few years, I am amazed when I come back and still see how racially divided the country is. All countries deal with racism; however, there is still a more distinct division in the United States that many countries have moved past. Just look at the churches in the United States if you want to see the racial division. I really believe the country could have moved way beyond the point of racial relations we are at now, if it was not for politicians constantly trying to exploit race for their own gain.

  I do believe there is hope. I believe there is even hope for the Republican Party. However, they are going to need to do something more than pick a few handful of token minorities to represent them. They will have to really work for the interests of minority communities and stop using racial politics to appeal to their white base. With the country as a whole, there have been wonderful signs of progress and change in racial relations (certainly since the 1950's or 60's). However, there is still a long way to go. Let's not allow the sly racial political tactics make us fearful of one another and keep us from moving forward and coming together as one people - regardless of race, culture, or ethnic heritage.

  About the author: This article was written by William McCorkle. He writes a blog on progressive social action and the search to find the true essence of the Christian faith at http://www.essencerestored.com. If you are interested in contacting the author, you may contact him at wdmccorkle[at]gmail.com.

  Article source: http://EzineArticles.com

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