I'm a day late (thanks to a flooded basement) with my most recent post at The Big Con,, but it's up now. It's titled "White Backlash and the Right," about the increasingly open bigotry reflecting the conservative impulse to defend white privilege. Here's the opening:
- Recently the New York Times carried a report on the "noose incidents" that have been occurring with rising frequency around the country, inspired seemingly by the protests over the "Jena 6" case.
The reports came complete with a graphic showing where the incidents have occurred. Remarkably, it isn't just happening in the South: the incidents are also being reported in places like Minneapolis; Cicero, Ill.; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Newark; Baltimore; and New London, Conn.
Equally striking was the analysis from Mark Potok, the SPLC's Intelligence Project director, who wrote:
These incidents are worrying, but even more so is the social reality they reflect. The level of hate crimes in the United States is astoundingly high — more than 190,000 incidents per year, according to a 2005 Department of Justice study.
And the number of hate groups, according to the annual count by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has shot up 40 percent in recent years, from 602 groups in 2000 to 844 in 2006.
It seems that the September rally in Jena — much as it was seen by many civil rights activists as the beginning of a new social movement — signaled not a renewed march toward racial and social justice, but a surprisingly broad and deep white backlash against the gains of black America.
Indeed, as Digby observes, "The racist beast is clamoring to be set free." The old once again is new: there's a "new racism" that pretends to be daring new thinking, dashing the molds of political correctness, but really is just the same old shit recycled. And It's not even relgated strictly to the right: Witness, for the most recent example, William Saletan's sally into the rancid fields of eugenics.
That this is happening is acutely clear for African Americans, historically the chief victims of racist hate in America, as the noose episodes suggest. But it's also becoming true on a broader scale as well, with a rising tide of openly espoused ethnic bigotry manifesting itself in myriad ways, particularly on the immigration front, where Latinos are increasingly targeted by rhetoric emanating from the very highest levels of Republican leadership that manifests itself in a tide of hate crimes; and in the "war on terror," which has provided for an opening for a variety of right-wing figures to spew hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric, with similarly predictable consequences.
One kind of hate feeds another; one open expression of bigotry without significant consequence only provides permission for many more to follow, and the inherent violence of such talk inevitably gives permission for people to act it out. Thus this shifting social tide has, just as predictably, brought the broader result of a significant increase in bias crimes of all kinds across the country.
And the breadth of the tide also tells us that this is not really about blacks or Latinos or Muslims specifically, but is about the people who fear and despise them: white people. It's about defending white privilege.
And there has been one primary driver for this gravitational shift: generically, the conservative movement, and specifically, its wholly owned subsidiary, the Republican Party.
Hope you enjoy.