Thursday, November 29, 2007

Those racial politics

-- by Dave

It's been clear that Pat Buchanan has become an unapologetic racist for some time now -- though to see his frequent appearances on the cable gabfests, you'd think he still enjoyed all the respectability he ever had.

But this is, evidently, the Bizarro Universe that is now the Beltway. Where else can you find journalists saying issues are too complex for them to understand after they've weighed in as experts on them? Where else can you find white racists like Buchanan whining that the country is being racially balkanized?

Buchanan did so recently on Fox's Hannity & Colmes talk show:
HANNITY: You say we're on a path of national suicide. I want to ask this question directly because you say it's a day of reckoning. Do you really believe that America, the country we all love as we know it, is in jeopardy of existing?

BUCHANAN: I think -- here's what I think. I think America may exist, but I'll tell you this: I do believe we're going to lose the American Southwest. I think it is almost inevitable. If we do not put a fence on that border --

HANNITY: I agree with you.

BUCHANAN: -- you're going to have 100 million Hispanics in the country, most of them new immigrants from Mexico, which believes that belongs to them. What's going to happen to us, Sean, in my judgment, is what is happening right now: We are Balkanizing. We are dividing and separating from one another politically, morally -- on issues like abortion or Terri Schiavo -- racially and ethnically, when you get Jena and then you get Don Imus, and all of these things ripping us apart. All the things that used to pull us together and hold us together no longer do.

You know, to listen to Buchanan talk, you would think that the drawing of racial lines that he's decrying as unnaturally divisive was a recent invention -- caused, perhaps, by the recent mass influx of Latino immigrants, or perhaps the civil-rights movement.

You'd never guess that those racial lines were drawn well over a hundred years ago in this country, and they were not only drawn but enforced by them for well over a century. The "Balkanization" he sees was created long ago, though it may have been invisible to his eyes -- since it's clear that, in Buchanan's eyes It's been only because of the fight for civil rights and the rise of multiculturalism that this has changed at all.

As I've noted before, "identity politics," though it was not called that then, was an invention of 19th-century white supremacists who divided the nation up into a distinct racial hierarchy that had economic outcomes, with white Europeans at the top of the heap and everyone else somewhere at whatever bottom could be scraped out for them. Whites continued to employ such divisions with abandon through most of the first half of the last century. Their heirs continue to do so, but in less nakedly racial terms.

Now we have attacks on the only concrete, actual good-faith efforts to overcome this poisonous legacy -- affirmative action, the "welfare state," hate-crimes legislation, and various aspects of civil-rights law -- all under the umbrella of combating "identity politics", as though the effort to overcome such politics was the source of them. And consistently, there has been one primary source for this resurgence of white supremacy camouflaged as "normal" politics: the conservative movement generally, and the Republican Party specifically.

Pat Buchanan is only leading the way: You only need watch Hannity's bootlicking performance alongside him to recognize that there are many movement conservatives eager to follow.

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