The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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December 26, 2012

My View: History of Republican racism is well documented

— After almost 150 years of emancipation, it’s a relief to know that the writer of the Dec. 15 My View article opposes slavery, but he falls a wee bit short in defending Republicans against charges of racism.

A quick check of the internet shows a Republican congressman referred to President Obama as a “boy”, a Republican activist in South Carolina compared Michelle Obama to a gorilla, a staffer for a Republican state senator in Tennessee depicted Obama surrounded by fried chicken, watermelons and food stamps, a Republican councilman in California suggested that if Sarah Palin posed for Playboy, then Michelle Obama should pose for National Geographic, and Colorado Republican Doug Lamborn called Obama a “tar baby”.

In March 2010, angry Tea Party protesters outside the Capitol Building called black Democratic congresspersons the N-word and spat upon black Democratic congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.

These were actual incidents reported in the national media which outraged Democrats.

(footnotes 1&2)

The writer’s “cursory review of race relations” is deceptively selective. Every professional historian knows the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction in the South, resulting in the loss of civil rights for black southerners and even the denial to a certain degree of their very humanity. Many northern Republicans acquiesced in this.

(footnote 3)

During the 1930s and 1940s, liberal northern Democrats, such as Hubert Humphrey, began to support civil rights for blacks and to court the black vote .Undeniably Republican Herbert Hoover ran a “lily white” campaign, Republican Richard Nixon pursued a “southern strategy” and used the code words “law and order.”

(footnote 4)

After his presidential nomination in 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan gave his first public speech near Philadelphia, Miss., the site of the murder of three civil rights activists in 1964. There Reagan called for “states rights” to win over “George Wallace-inclined voters.”

In the New York Times, Paul Krugman noted it was one of the many examples of “Reagan’s tacit race-baiting in the historical record.”

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