Organizations, like the rest of us, have to occasionally make social obligatory gestures. We fire off a “Happy Birthday!” to our Facebook friends and shoot out a generic holiday greeting text to our phone contacts. It’s not particularly sincere, or even heartfelt, and while its presence is merely noted its absence becomes noteworthy. So we carry on, and thanks to social media cranking out those mandatory memorandums are as effortless as ever. However it’s that same ease which can lead to trouble, and in the case of the RNC it revealed a bit of an uncomfortable truth.
This past Saturday marked the 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat which was the incident that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. So in deference to proper social decorum, and decency the RNC tweeted the following:
“Today we remember Rosa Parks' bold stand and her role in ending racism.”
What followed was the expected cavalcade of rightful umbrage and mockery on Twitter, with the right on time social media faux paus of the RNC’s deletion of the offending tweet, which did them little good, more online harrumphing, and finally the expected retweeted correction. (Side Note: Does the GOP have anyone that understands social media, and how to not fail so much at it?) So now the GOP has once again faced a backlash because of their cluelessness about racial issues, and their ignorance of the power of social media. I’m not going to speculate as to whether the Republican Party really cares, or doesn’t about the legacy of Rosa Parks. I’m sure there are individual Republicans who respect the work of civil rights leaders, Rosa Parks among them. The problem for the GOP wasn’t the poorly worded tweet but what it demonstrated which is just how fundamentally misguided and maligned the Grand Old Party is when it comes to racial issues. The GOP has both used race to win elections, the Southern Strategy (Link to Bob’s Article), and discounted racism when it suited their purpose. And that’s the GOP’s problem. Racism doesn’t exist except when they can use it, and now they’re starting to believe their own propaganda.
When the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Justice Scalia called it a “perpetuation of racial entitlement”. For Scalia laws against racial discrimination are entitlements, not you know ethical, or morally correct, or just a plain ole decent thing to do. He couldn’t understand why there were different rules for certain states when it came to voting and race. He claimed “there are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now.” Laws made them black districts, and those same laws were punishing certain states by treating them differently. It wasn’t because of Jim Crow and a history of racial discrimination in those states. It’s not like those states fought a bloody civil war over an institution that kept another group of people bondage, and then once regaining power they used the state governments to keep those people oppressed by different means. Those distracts weren’t black by law because African-Americans were forced to live separate from whites through a combination of legal, economic, and cultural norms that treated them as second class citizens. That was a heck of a long time ago! I’m sure no one is even around from the bad old days like Rep. John Lewis from Georgia’s 5th District.
This willful disregard of their own malicious use of racism, and their continued obstinacy in the face of fucking reality is why the GOP will never close the voting gap among African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Women, Gays, or pretty much everyone that’s not Old , White men. Some jackass Republican in Nevada talking about how teh awesome slavery was, or some old bigot in North Carolina saying some bigoted shit doesn’t make a trend, and neither does a mistweet. However I’m not gonna feel too much sympathy for you when you’re wrongfully cited for jaywalking after you’ve skated on multiple murder counts. Racism is over, wink-wink, but Mitt Romney will drop a birther joke in Michigan, and use words like “foreign’ to describe President Obama’s policies. When you push for Voter ID and that same bigoted asshole in North Carolina, or a higher up in Pennsylvania gives away the game that makes you culpable. When you appoint Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky who has stated he would’ve voted against the Civil Rights act as your go-to-guy for minority outreach, and do everything you can to block immigration reform you leave little doubt as to just how unserious you are on matters of race.
When it came to winning elections the GOP uses and has used racial animosity to their advantage but with their base slowly dying off they’re having to rethink that strategy, and proclaiming that racism is over when it’s really not, and performing outreach when you really aren’t won’t get the job done. Change is hard, really it’s more of a progressive rather than conservative value, but unless they change their mentality, and more importantly their abuse of racial issues derpity-derp moments like this will just keep happening. Maybe instead of ridiculing Flava Flav they should listen to him.