Monday, September 24, 2007
Paul Krugman's opinion piece on Race and the GOP reminds me of the recent trip I took through the South with nine Hispanic college students. It started when we got to Tennessee, and only got worse. People would look at us strangely. We were severely mistreated by Budget Rental Car when our rental had mechanical problems, and were called names at a convenience store in rural Virginia.
Before then, I thought that these things didn't happen anymore; if people still had hateful feelings, at least in Texas, they didn't show it. I grew up in a Jim Crow town and I can tell you, to be a child and hear these things about you, your family and community can be very painful.
Romney and Guiliani's spectacle (as Krugman calls it) shows they must not have much of a conscience if getting votes is worth such barbaric rhetoric against undocumented immigrants. But what they and their team, the GOP are doing, as Krugman says, is trying to defend Fortress America.
This makes me wonder if the students and I passed the gates of Fortress America once we entered Tennessee (we didn't stop in Louisiana except to get gas, so I can't say what would have happened there). We were in dangerous territory, where whiteness is supreme; where there is a deep seated investment in staying white...
Being college educated and erudite didn't help us while inside the fortress. We couldn't pass for white, so we were unwelcome. Perhaps the best thing is to stay away from those who guard the fortress so jealously.
If you are interested in the whiteness of Fortress America, you might want to read "The Possessive Investment in Whiteness," by George Lipzitz.
As mentioned in one of our earlier posts, it was the experience we had on the trip through the South that propelled the beginning of this blog.
Politics in Black and White
By PAUL KRUGMAN
New York Times
Published: September 24, 2007
Last Thursday there was a huge march in Jena, La., to protest the harsh and unequal treatment of six black students arrested in the beating of a white classmate. Students who hung nooses to warn blacks not to sit under a “white” tree were suspended for three days; on the other hand, the students accused in the beating were initially charged with second-degree attempted murder.
.. the reality is that things haven’t changed nearly as much as people think. Racial tension, especially in the South, has never gone away, and has never stopped being important. And race remains one of the defining factors in modern American politics.
...And yes, Southern white exceptionalism is about race, much more than it is about moral values, religion, support for the military or other explanations sometimes offered. There’s a large statistical literature on the subject, whose conclusion is summed up by the political scientist Thomas F. Schaller in his book “Whistling Past Dixie”: “Despite the best efforts of Republican spinmeisters to depict American conservatism as a nonracial phenomenon, the partisan impact of racial attitudes in the South is stronger today than in the past.”
...Republican politicians, who understand quite well that the G.O.P.’s national success since the 1970s owes everything to the partisan switch of Southern whites, have tacitly acknowledged this reality. Since the days of Gerald Ford, just about every Republican presidential campaign has included some symbolic gesture of approval for good old-fashioned racism.
...But to get the Republican nomination, a candidate must appeal to the base — and the base consists, in large part, of Southern whites who carry over to immigrants the same racial attitudes that brought them into the Republican fold to begin with. As a result, you have the spectacle of Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, pragmatists on immigration issues when they actually had to govern in diverse states, trying to reinvent themselves as defenders of Fortress America.
for complete article click title to this post