Outright racism is awakening like Godzilla rising from the sea. While institutional and individual racism in America is largely a thing of the past, the ugly monster still has its feet firmly planted in American soil.
I was raised in the North, born at the tail end of the baby boom. It was not uncommon to hear racial slurs spoken in those days, even casually. The “N”-word was not unspeakable then. Many people who raised kids in those days are still alive–like the Israelites in the Sinai, they haven’t all died off, so the generation who lived with casual racism still lives.
Some remember a day before the 1948 Democratic National Convention, when Harry Truman was given the green light to issue Executive Order No. 9981, which read “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”
The policy of racial segregation in our military was formalized by the first progressive President of the United States, Democrat Woodrow Wilson. He was a tried and true racist, whose writings were cited in the KKK-promoted silent film “Birth of a Nation.” (After that movie premiered in Atlanta, a group of Klansmen held a fiery cross ceremony on the summit of Stone Mountain, which was then privately owned but now by statute is “a Confederate memorial and public recreational area” owned by the State of Georgia.)
The “post-Reconstructionist” racism of the 1910’s is making a comeback in the 2010’s. President Obama is a staunch believer in reparations, that white Americans owe blacks something for the past 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow. At every opportunity, he frames each situation through that lens of white guilt and black liberation. With such race-awareness, old, dormant feelings rise back up. Old feelings that extend to who fought in the Civil War and on what side flare into active consciousness.
I grew up in the North, where the form of racism practiced was “high but not close,” and moved to the South where the racism was “close but not high.” That means northern blacks were elevated to high positions, as long as they didn’t live on “white” streets. White flight from entire neighborhoods in metro Boston and the North Shore were common things, and landlords refusing to rent to blacks was normal (as documented by the Trump family’s history in New York).
In the South, blacks and whites lived, literally, across the tracks from each other. Certainly there was economic disparity, but black sharecroppers and white dirt farmers frequently shared their poverty, and sometimes their fields. But blacks were not allowed to serve in any capacity where they had power. Reconstruction through the civil right’s movement in the 1960’s did much to end the South’s institutional racism, but nothing to stop the northern segregation until bussing in the 1970’s.
There’s still a lot of buried tension and even hatred today. I, personally, was not taught racism. I grew up with a group of friends that included (literally) every black person in my high school (there were three), a couple of Chinese kids, the only Jewish kids in school, and a half-Lebanese. These were my friends (many of them still are). Nobody in my family said anything to me, but in private moments, those casually-spoken slurs would come out from my parents. That’s how it was in the North.
I can imagine (and my wife is Southern) that’s how it was in the South. With eight years of Obama’s race-baiting and the Left’s digging for racism until they actually find it–now they’ve found it. They’ve dug deep enough to root out the monster, and in all his ugly glory, Donald Trump has risen from the radioactive muck of pre-civil-rights America.
This is a man who casually throws around terms like “the blacks love me,” then accuses the only black GOP candidate of being “pathological.” He speaks casually of Mexican rapists and murderers, then has a taco bowl at his Manhattan tower to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. He accuses an Indiana-born federal judge who prosecuted Mexican drug cartels of bias because the man is of Mexican heritage. This is the casual racism I heard growing up. This is the monster we thought was dormant and simply waiting for a generation to die.
We thought the Dylann Roofs of the world were aberrations. But instead of pursuing healing (which Gov. Nikki Haley and Charleston residents divinely did; I wrote about it with tears streaming from my eyes), the race-baiters dug until they found the monster. They went after the symbols of the Confederacy, cultural icons which are tied to the casual racism that was waiting to die.
And they stirred it back up and gave it new life.
Now we have a candidate in the Republican Party whose policies in many ways mirror Woodrow Wilson. He would create a Fortress America, cold and imperious, while giving space to the monster and watching it grow. The thousands of racists on Twitter are only a shadow of the monster that laid dormant–the casual racism that had become politically incorrect to even think. Now political correctness is out with the Trump crowd, so much so that things that are actually evil and should be banned are bandied about with no thought of consequence.
Our nation is badly in need of racial healing. We’re badly in need of a political leader who can be a spiritual shoulder. No, I’m not in favor of self-important Poobahs like John Kasich, the “prince of light and hope.” I am in favor of someone who regards casual racism as racism, who regards casual anti-Semitism as Jew-hatred, who regards people who say and practice such things as saying and practicing evil.
Donald Trump is none of these. Hillary Clinton is none of these–she and Bernie Sanders are do-gooders who would tolerate any amount of minority race-baiting and digging until another monster emerged. It’s what guilt-ridden liberal old white people do.
America was nearly race-blind for a time. It seemed there was nothing but hope, nothing but waiting for the generation who practiced casual racism to die out, for inequalities in crime, unemployment, and education to be addressed in a meaningful way. But the race-baiter in the White House dug with all his might, and out climbed Godzilla.
When the monster emerged, the Republican Party just stood by and watched it, in awe and spectacle. They did nothing to stop it. As Erick wrote, damn them.
The Democrats awakened the racist monster, the GOP fed it, and now America may have to battle it for another 100 years.