Sunday, August 13, 2017

Defining Racism Downwards

Mark Graber

Southern racial moderates during the 1930s vehemently opposed northern and judicial intervention into the trial of the Scottsboro Boys.  The South, the sane voices of the former Confederacy insisted, should determine the legal processes for determining the guilt and appropriate sentence for persons of color accused of crimes against white persons.  These processes did not necessarily include legal representation and certainly did not include African-Americans as either grand or petit jurors, but they were legal processes. Southern community leaders were celebrated as racial moderates because they insisted that persons of color be legally executed only after being tried and sentenced to death by some “legal” process.  They repeatedly denounced the Klan and such extra-legal processes for dealing with alleged crime as lynching.

President Trump, the Klan, the alt-right, and the Republican Party won a stunning rhetorical victory yesterday when the American media and a great many Americans defined racism downwards to 1930 standards.  Republicans who tolerate or support police brutality in African-American communities, horribly inadequate representation for criminal defendants of color (including lawyers who fall asleep at trial), substantial underrepresentation of African-Americans on grand and petit juries, and criminal laws and criminal law enforcement that has resulted in the imprisonment of a stunning high percentage of African-American men became racial moderates because they denounced the Klan and overt expressions of white supremacy.  President Trump’s effort to establish the contemporary American center as the place between those who celebrate white supremacy and those who protest white supremacy, an effort reminiscent of those northern Democrats who in the 1850s condemned abolitionists and secessionists with equal scorn, failed.  Media reports suggest contemporary racial moderates are those Republicans who vigorously condemn white supremacy, with equal vigor condemn any race conscious policy that attempts to improve the status of persons of color in the United States and neglect, tolerate or support racist policies that do not overtly announce their white supremacist foundations.  A racial moderate may gut the Voting Rights Act as long as they do not announce they are doing so to promote the supremacy of the white race.

The events in Charlottesville provide another demonstration of how Trump derangement syndrome on the left is providing the foundations for permanent Republican rule from the far right.  By celebrating any member of the far right who denounces President Trump and the alt-right, Trump derangement syndrome further serves to normalize the far right in the name of not normalizing the alt-right.  White supremacists may have lost a few Confederate monuments yesterday, but they continue to enjoy great success in their efforts to move Americans back to a modified version of 1930 racial politics when the Klan represented the right, everyone who insisted on greater racial equal was a racial agitator on the left, and the comfortable middle consisted of a racial status quo in which whites enjoyed a grossly disproportionate share of the benefits of American life while persons of color experienced as grossly a disproportionate share of the burdens.

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