As soon as Lamar White Jr’s shocking story on Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) and his association with the KKK broke, the usual flood of people came out to defend Rep. Scalise with the same tired old counter-accusations.
Over at the boundless “klavern” of racism, bigotry and proud ignorance that is also known as my local TV station’s comments section, the deluge of comments excusing white racism was horrific.
Within seconds of KATC posting the link to their story on their Facebook page, all of Acadiana’s resident race apologists pounced on the opportunity to once again let the world know that racism was over and they weren’t racists, by using racist language and even veiled threats of violence towards people who didn’t agree with them. Don’t believe me? Here are the remarks from someone who didn’t like my retorts to his assertions that Democrats created the KKK and that the Black Panthers are just as horrible as white racists – so that all somehow absolves everyone else of racism.
To be fair, I did say something like “if the hood fits, wear it” in response to one of his racist comments, but I think this is a pretty good example of what people who claim that the hatred and prejudice of the past are gone with the wind. If you listen to these shining examples of Louisiana’s failed education system coupled with prejudice speak, you would then understand how Bill Cassidy beat Senator Mary Landrieu on his platform that was little more than, “Obama sucks. Mary and Barry sitting in a tree, k.i.s.s.i.n.g. Vote for me if you hate Obama.”
Am I saying that there isn’t a single Democrat or liberal with a prejudiced bone in their body? Of course not, but the apologists for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise are repeating ad nauseam the old “Democrats started the KKK” and “Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are racists” lines that you will see or hear in almost any conversation regarding the current scandal that is rocking the Republican Party. There’s certainly crazy, racist people of all ethnicities out there, but unlike the GOP, you’re not likely to see Democratic politicians addressing the New Black Panthers.
Sure, many Southern Democrats (also known “Dixiecrats”) were involved with the KKK back in the 1960s in response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and desegregation, but most of those people are dead or vote for Republicans now. They broke away from the Democratic Party because the party was moving to the left and refused to cater to them or their hatred any longer. Under the Southern Strategy, the Republican Party has turned much of the south by embracing the old Dixiecrat guard and their descendants. So yes, members of the KKK were Democrats 50 years ago, but they either vote Republican or third party now.
As for the claims by the Steve Scalise and David Duke apologists about folks like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson being racists, that’s a ridiculous and utterly absurd statement to make. Are they people who perhaps pounce on any opportunity to get their name in the media spotlight and maybe make some money? Possibly, but that doesn’t make them promoters of racism, nor does it in any way excuse centuries of slavery, lynchings and segregation at the hands of the ancestors of the people who now try to claim that racism is dead, we should get over it, and then toss a few slurs your way if you disagree with them.
Just because some members of a political party did something wrong 50 years ago, that doesn’t excuse politicians of the other party for wrongdoings in the here and now. It wouldn’t make sense for me to blame Republicans today for the views their Dixiecrat parents and grandparents held back in the 1950s and 1960s – but that’s exact argument conservative apologists for racism are trying to make when bringing up the political affiliation of Klan members half a century ago. If the Republican Party wants to shed the image of condoning racism and paling around with White Nationalists, then they should force Rep. Steve Scalise to step down instead of making excuses for him. Congressman Scalise didn’t make a mistake of not vetting who he was speaking to, he knew damn well what the ideology was of the crowd that he was addressing – he was invited by associates of David Duke, after all.
The GOP has to make a choice. It has to decide whether it wants to continue simply being the party of angry, old, white people or if it wants to represent the changing demographics of the melting pot that is our United States – but it can’t do both. The decision by Reince Priebus and the GOP regarding Congressman Steve Scalise will publicly show us which in which direction they want to go.
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