Friday, April 29, 2011

Atwater's "Southern Strategy" Reversed?

[I want to apologize ahead of time if the use of a word in this post offends anyone. Please know that it wasn't my use of the word. But to make the point, I need to be truthful about the original content...thanks for your understanding.]

Back in 2005, Lee Atwater did us the favor of articulating the evolution of the "Southern Strategy.

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

Let's take a look at how our most recent race-baiting carnival barker handled that back in 1973 when the federal government sued his companies for racial discrimination in his Queens apartment complexes.

A few months after the government filed the suit, Trump gave a combative press conference at the New York Hilton in which he went after the Justice Department for being too friendly to welfare recipients. He "accused the Justice Department of singling out his corporation because it was a large one and because the Government was trying to force it to rent to welfare recipients," the Times reported. Trump added that if welfare recipients were allowed into his apartments in certain middle-class outer-borough neighborhoods, there would be a "massive fleeing from the city of not only our tenants, but communities as a whole."

You see...renting to people of color is equal to renting to "welfare recipients" and you never have to use the "n" word. (I assume people will recognize that as disgusted snark, but I'll say so just to be sure.)

But racial euphemisms are soooo last century, aren't they? Johann Hari writes a column about Trump that makes me think that perhaps we're living through a reversal of the tactics Atwater outlined in the Republican playbook of the post-Nixon southern strategy.

Trump is every trend in Republican politics over the past 35 years taken to its logical conclusion. He is the Republican id, finally entirely unleashed from all restraint and all reality.

Hari gives four examples for this claim - only one of which deals with the unleashing of restraint on racist euphemisms. All of it is worth a read. And then he ends with this:

Trump probably won't become the Republican nominee, but not because most Republicans reject his premisses. No: it will be because he states these arguments too crudely for mass public consumption. He takes the whispered dogmas of the Reagan, Bush and Tea Party years and shrieks them through a megaphone.

My question is whether or not the Republicans will be able to put that genie back in the bottle. We'll see.

My uncensored response would echo Eugene Robinson's.

To those deniers who can’t come to terms with the fact of the Obama presidency, I have nothing to offer but this: Yes, he’s smarter, richer, luckier and better looking than you, and he’s your president. Yours, mine and ours. And he’s black. Get over it.

1 comment:

  1. I love the Eugene Robinson quote.

    I'm not one to see racists behind every bush (or Bush) but of late some things are so blatant to anyone but the congenitally stupid (or expat Scotsmen!) that it takes my breath away and I'm left speechless at the denials.


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