*The relatives of a Black Louisiana sheriff’s deputy are told he can’t be buried in what purports to be a “whites only cemetery.” Three young Blacks are falsely accused, harassed, and harangued for shoplifting at a suburban L.A. Southern California Target outlet. Black soccer players report continued harassment and abuse from fans and on social media throughout Europe.
These recent acts a couple of days apart dispel any doubt that racism and racists aren’t going anywhere. But then again, it didn’t take the Capitol terrorist assault or the 74 million votes that Trump got to assure that.
Countless polls and surveys during Trump’s Oval Office tenure constantly showed this. No matter how subtle and blatant Trump’s harangues against immigrants, Muslims, and in the case of Blacks, coded blasts at alleged Black Lives Matter violent demonstrations, millions of whites saw absolutely nothing racist in any of this.
It’s tough to get a handle on what is racism, and who can be called a racist because of the fuzzy, often misunderstood definition of what constitutes racism. It’s not just verbally or physically assaulting Blacks or Hispanics, racial baiting and name-calling, or even the more nuanced denial of loans, and hiring and promotions to minorities. There’s plenty of that still, and plenty of whites that engage in those practices.
The seeds were sown long before Trump came along to encase racism with a veneer of political cover, even respectability. GOP leaders never denounced any of the long lines of racial bigots and their bigoted digs and actions—and still for the most part don’t. The mostly gentile GOP handling of the inflammatory Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is a textbook case. Whether Trump existed or not, this wouldn’t change for a very good reason. Peddling, pandering to, or ignoring racism and racists within and without the GOP has paid and continues to pay politically well for the GOP. A tip came during a cable talk show appearance in 2010 when then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly refused several direct, angled, and nuanced efforts to discuss racism in the Tea Party. The NAACP had just passed a resolution demanding that the GOP speak out and speak out loudly against the racists among them. But McConnell was having none of it.
McConnell’s duck and dodge of the issue was no accident. He and the party would cut its throat if it denounced its racists and racism and really meant it. This was on display in all its grotesque danger and violence during the Capitol terror assault.
Confederate flags, nooses, assaults on Black bystanders and security personnel were some of the ugliest features of the Capitol terror assault. The terrorists draped themselves in a cover of supposedly defending the Republic from a takeover by Biden, Democrats, and the legions of Black and Hispanic voters that put him in the Oval Office. There was virtual stone silence from GOP leaders about the attack; that is if more than a few weren’t applauding and egging the attackers on.
The racial ploys that Trump has used to masterful effect to reignite the GOP’s traditional white rural, none college-educated and low-income blue-collar workers he stole from the GOP’s ancient playbook. The GOP could not have been competitive during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and most importantly, Trump’s 2016 campaign, without the bailout from these voters. Much has been made that they are a dwindling percent of the electorate and that Hispanics, Asian, Black, young, and women voters will permanently tip the balance of political power to the Democrats in coming national elections. Blue-collar white voters have shrunk from more than half of the nation’s voters to less than 40 percent.
In the wake of Biden’s win, the racial lines are so hopelessly muddled and blurred that a Trump can simply stick with issues that his loyal base and many other whites want to see and hear him talk and do something about and come off as racially inoffensive. This made him in their eyes seem like a populist, and someone willing to take on the Beltway establishment. None of this was ever really true about him, but like anything else, perception supersedes reality. And Trump grasped that. Despite a double impeachment, and a possible Senate trial, Trump and his millions are still as defiant as ever.
There’s also the perception among many Americans that race conflict, strife and violence is largely a thing of an ugly, but by-gone past. The rash of civil rights laws, voting rights protections, packs of wealthy, prominent, high profile African American CEOS, educators, pro athletes, and entertainers, and thousands of elected officials, give the comforting appearance that all is well on the racial front in America. So, it’s no surprise when periodic racial surveys find that many whites don’t see race as the defining problem in America. And that other polls find that more than a few whites are willing to finger point Blacks, not whites, as the prime racial bigots in the country.
Trump and even violent white racists continue to get a racial pass from millions. The ugly face of their racism will likely get worse bedeviling Biden and dangerously, the nation.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of the forthcoming What’s Right and Wrong with the Electoral College (Amazon Kindle). He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network. His weekly political commentaries can be found at thehutchinsonreport.net