By Geoffrey Dunn - Two weeks ago, conservative columnist Mark Steyn linked me to the likes of MSNBC's Chris Mathews and Lawrence O'Donnell for comments the three of us made about the demographics -- and the racial messaging -- at the Republican National Convention in Tampa...
...While the GOP did its best to diversify those Republicans speaking at the rostrum -- Susana Martinez, Condoleezza Rice and Marco Rubio delivered among the very best speeches in Tampa -- the lineup of speakers obscured what were overwhelmingly "white" demographics at the convention. It was a shameful representation for what was purportedly the convening of a major national political party. The optics told the story. It did not look in any way like America to me...
Indeed, the Republican Party has all but abandoned people of color in this country, save when it orchestrates a façade of racial diversity as it did on occasion in Tampa. But the real numbers tell the tale that Steyn and others would rather dismiss.
The recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll revealing that Mitt Romney was garnering zero percent of the African-American vote in the current election -- that's right, nada -- also revealed that Democrats were leading Latino voters by a 2-to-1 margin. Even Jeb Bush has acknowledged that Republicans have failed to make inroads with Latinos, once viewed as a demographic swinging toward the GOP.
Moreover, the Republican Party has supported voter identification requirements in several swing states, the sole -- and stated -- purpose being to limit people of color from participating in the democratic process. As Doug Preisse, chairman of the Republican Party in Franklin County, Ohio, recently declared: "We shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban [read African-American] voter-turnout machine."
Steyn also launched a ridiculous attack at my book The Lies of Sarah Palin, which was No. 1 on Amazon's "Bestseller" list for political biographies for several weeks. One of the things I pointed out in my book was that when Palin accused then-candidate Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and of not being "a man who sees America as you see America," she unleashed the hounds of racism in this country and in the Republican Party. She became the first serious candidate for national office since George Wallace to give both body and voice to the vulgarities of American right-wing talk radio and the pernicious racism that fuels it.
Was I the only one that thought so? Hardly. As I noted in my book, Douglass K. Daniel, an editor of the Associated Press's Washington Bureau and hardly a "liberal" ideologue, wrote a scathing indictment of Palin's attack entitled "Palin's Words Carry Racist Tinge." Palin, Daniel asserted, was trying to fire up "a faltering campaign" -- and charged that she had crossed the line with "a racially tinged subtext." "Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign," he concluded, "portraying Obama as 'not like us' is another potential appeal to racism."
Dog whistles? I don't think so. As MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry recently noted, "it's a pretty bad analogy." All one needs to do is read but a small sampling of the racist rants on the internet to get a sense of what's fueling this more-coded rhetoric on the hustings. Last year, when California Republican Jules Manson tweeted "Assassinate the fucken n____— and his monkey children," it was astonishing how quiet the Republican Party leadership was in response to this violent racial bigotry. "They're 12 percent of the population," Rush Limbaugh once growled famously. "Who the hell cares?" And the Republican Party leadership shivers in his wake.
All of which reminds me of the latest Romney gaffe involving another slice of the American electorate, this time of the "47 percent" variety -- those who "are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims..." We know who Romney's referencing, what he's doing here. These aren't dog whistles. The only people who don't hear them are those with racial mufflers on.
And, of course, now there are "empty chair lynchings" in the hinterlands.
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