Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Right Wing Racism of Pat Buchanan

No matter how many denials they make, racism is racism, and the right can't honestly deny it in their ranks.  You can see it in the old timers, like Pat Buchanan, and you can see it in some of the statements made by the crop of contestants for the GOP Presidential nomination for 2012.

Pat Buchanan, a lifelong conservative political figure, was let go from MSNBC as a political commenter for his recent book, and for appearing on right wing supremacist radio shows to promote it.  He is now complaining across the conservative media that he was treated unfairly, that he was the victim of a witch hunt.

I signed that petition to MSNBC that may have contributed to his being let go. 

I don't blame the petition or the organizers however for the result.  I blame Buchanan for the hateful views and where and to whom he promoted them for the termination, not the people who complained or objected or signed petitions.  Buchanan is failing to properly take responsibility for his own positions.  He is of course entitled to any hateful position he wishes.  But he should recognize that if it offends the way he has, it will have an effect on his employment as a political analyst.  This would seem to be so obvious, so axiomatic, that Buchanan's reaction is incomprehensible, and would appear to be a failure on his part to take responsibility for his views and actions having so deeply offended people.

Media Matters covered pretty thoroughly the racist views of the radio show in question, and the position of Buchanan in his book which asserts that the U.S. is 'disintegrating' because of the loss of status of white people.  He also ascribes to the idea that white Europeans are genetically superior to other brown and black races, and that we can never have racial equality through the efforts of education, effectively, because of that innate inferiority.  Buchanan believes that too many black and brown people will turn us into a third world nation.

According to the NY Daily News
Pat Buchanan will not be returning, the network announced Thursday. The decision comes just four months after MSNBC suspended the former Republican presidential candidate following the publication of his latest book.
"After 10 years, we have decided to part ways with Pat Buchanan," the network said in a statement. "We wish him well."

The book, "Suicide of a Superpower" contains chapters titled "The End of White America" and "The Death of Christian America" and was ripped by critics as racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said recently he didn't think Buchanan's book should be "part of the national dialogue, much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC."
Pat Buchanan is credited with being part of the writing of the Southern Strategy of the Nixon White House, the one that deliberately tried to use race and the civil rights legislation to turn formerly conservative Democrats into newly minted Republican voters.

Pat Buchanan was terminated for inappropriate, factually inaccurate, and highly offensive views, specifically those which are understood to promote white supremacy, anti-semitism, and racial hatred.  Buchanan has defended the actions of Nazis involved in forced labor slavery and defended Holocaust war criminals.  In 2010, Buchanan objected to the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Kagan because she was Jewish, and he felt that would create too Jewish an element on the Court. 

William F. Buckley, who I credit for his condemnation of the bigot group, the John Birch Society, also condemned Buchanan.  Again from wikipedia:
In 1991 William F. Buckley, Jr. wrote a 40,000-word National Review article discussing anti-Semitism amongst conservative commentators focused largely on Buchanan; the article and many responses to it were collected in the book In Search of Anti-Semitism (1992). He concluded: "I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said during the period under examination amounted to anti-Semitism."[18][19] The Anti-Defamation League has called Buchanan an "unrepentant bigot" who "repeatedly demonizes Jews and minorities and openly affiliates with white supremacists."[20] Neo-conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said about Buchanan that "There's no doubt he makes subliminal appeals to prejudice."[21]
Buchanan coined the term 'silent majority', and takes pride in his assertion that he was part of the 'Southern Strategy', and that he thinks there is nothing wrong with 'prefering his own race.  He has long been a fan of racist writers and broadcasters.

He ran for the office of President in 1992, 1996, and 2000.
From on the Southern Strategy:
In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of winning elections in Southern states by exploiting anti-African American racism and fears of lawlessness among Southern white voters and appealing to fears of growing federal power in social and economic matters (generally lumped under the concept of states' rights). Though the "Solid South" had been a longtime Democratic Party stronghold due to the Democratic Party's defense of slavery prior to the American Civil War and segregation for a century thereafter, many white Southern Democrats stopped supporting the party following the civil rights plank of the Democratic campaign in 1948 (triggering the Dixiecrats), the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, and desegregation.

The strategy was first adopted under future Republican President Richard Nixon and Republican Senator Barry Goldwater[1] in the late 1960s.[2] The strategy was successful in some regards. It contributed to the electoral realignment of Southern states to the Republican Party, but at the expense of losing more than 90 percent of black voters to the Democratic Party. As the 20th century came to a close, the Republican Party began trying to appeal again to black voters, though with little success.[2] In 2005, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman formally apologized for his party's use of the Southern Strategy in the previous century.[3]
It should be noted that Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman also has apologized for the right wing making a wedge issue of gay rights, particularly poignant, given Mehlman is himself gay, and that he was part of demonizing other gays.

The Southern Strategy section in Wikipedia goes on to state:
Although the phrase "Southern strategy" is often attributed to Nixon's political strategist Kevin Phillips, he did not originate it,[4] but merely popularized it.[5] In an interview included in a 1970 New York Times article, he touched on its essence:
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.[6]

Lee Atwater

Bob Herbert, a New York Times columnist, reported a 1981 interview with Lee Atwater, published in Southern Politics in the 1990s by Alexander P. Lamis, in which Lee Atwater discussed politics in the South:
Lee AtwaterYou 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.[35]

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".[7]
Herbert wrote in the same column, "The truth is that there was very little that was subconscious about the G.O.P.'s relentless appeal to racist whites. Tired of losing elections, it saw an opportunity to renew itself by opening its arms wide to white voters who could never forgive the Democratic Party for its support of civil rights and voting rights for blacks."[36]
Buchanan was also a part of the Reagan White House, which has not been free from the tar brush of intentional racist strategies.  Reagan's War on Drugs, launched at a time when actual drug use was declining anyway has been analyzed by some historians, legal academicians, and sociologists as an effort that was both a calculated political expedient, and a means to disproportionately target minority communities.  Typically those communities of color have voted primarily Democratic.  As a result of the War on Drugs, a disproportionate number of people who are non-violent criminals have had the same offenses which were previously misdemeanors raised to the level of felony convictions.  The number of people in our prisons is twenty times what it was in the 1920s, with by far the greatest increase occurring in the Reagan era of the 1980s, as a direct result of the War on Drugs.  It is more dramatic in the visual depiction than words can convey.
From Wikipedia's article on Incarceration:

File:US incarceration timeline-clean-fixed-timescale.svg
Number of inmates. 1920 to 2006.[1][2] (absolute numbers) General US population grew only 2.8 times in the same period, but the number of inmates increased more than 20 times.
 From the wikipedia article on Race and Crime:
File:Lifetime prevalence of incarceration.png
As of 2001, the chances of going to prison in percentages for various demographic groups

From the section on Prison Data, correlating to the above graphic:
According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 39.4% of the prison and jail population in 2009.[27] Hispanics (of all races) were 15.9% of those incarcerated in 2009.[27] Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the US population according to the 2010 US census.[28][29] According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2000 to 2008 the rate of prevalence of incarceration for blacks declined to 3,161 per 100,000 and the white rate slightly increase to 487 per 100,000[30]. In 2009 American Indians and Alaskan Natives were jailed, paroled, or on probation at 932 per 100,000, 25% higher than for non-Indians/Natives (747), up 5.6% that year and 12% higher than 2007.[31]. However, crime in general declined during this time down to near 1970 levels, an 18% decrease from the previous decade.[32]
Many people incorrectly believe that the War on Drugs was a response to the problems in the 80s from crack cocaine.  While that was a huge part of the crime increase in the 80's, the surge in crack cocaine did not occur until AFTER the War on Drugs was started.  While I cannot directly link a specific person, like Buchanan, to the War on Drugs policy, there is a significant viewpoint that it was not so much a response to a problem as it was an attempt to promote a law-and-order position for political expedience, and that at the very least secondary to that expediency was the shift in voting patterns that resulted, which favored Republicans.  Certainly the Reagan White House promoted terms commonly considered to be 'code' or 'dog whistles' such as 'Welfare Queen' and any number of nouns combined with the word 'Crack' to refer primarily to blacks.  An example of scholarship on the topic is University of Dayton's Kenneth Nunn's work, "The Drug War as Race War" from 2002, which makes the connection quite clear.

An example of an analysis of policies NOT as a response to crime, but rather as an aspect of racial fears and an effort to counter 1960s increase in black voters that resulted from the civil rights legislation are works like U of MN Sociologist Chair Chris Uggens', in Ballot Manipulation and the "Menace of Negro Domination": Racial Threat and Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States, 1850 - 2002.  Professor Uggen has been quoted here before for his other studies which indicate that felons - who are mostly black - have been disenfranchised to such a pronounced degree that it has altered the result of elections.  It is Republicans who have largely been responsible for the black and felon disenfranchisement, and who are fearful of minority votes for Democrats, including voting by former felons.  The correlation between restricting voting, drug policies, and race cannot be denied.  Nor can the argument that this is a long term pattern by conservatives, whether they are more recent conservative Republicans, or the formerly conservative Democrats who switched to the Republican party, in part through the efforts to play on their racism by people like Buchanan through a range of Republican and other right wing political campaigns from the mid 20th century to the present.

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