New Rules: Playing The Race Card

The Republicans’ game plan is obvious. They used it against President Clinton and Senator Carey in the 2000 election. Create an air of hostility against the President through repeated lies and distortions of the facts. Now that they’re up against President Obama, they’re not above evoking old racial stereotypes and playing on the fears of their mostly white constituency.

 [The Clarion Call]

The misuse of the phrase “Playing the race card” by the mainstream media as well as conservatives has been an attempt to diminish the validity, significance, and relevance of legitimate claims of racial prejudice or indifference suffered by African Americans.


The phrase reappeared in its current state after the O.J. trial. However, previous to O.J., “playing the race card” referred to someone exploiting prejudice against another race for political or some other advantage. The late North Carolina Republican Senator Jesse Helms’ 1990 election campaign in which he featured an advertisement showing a Black man taking a White man’s job is an example of playing the race card.


In a September 15 interview with Brian Williams of NBC News, former president Jimmy Carter responded to William’s question about what seems to be a heightened climate of racial and other hate speech since the election of President Obama.


President Carter expressed extreme concern, stating “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity demonstrated towards President Obama is based on the fact that he is a Black man”.


Carter went on to say that there is “a belief among some White people that African Americans are not qualified to run this great country”.


The next day, responding to a question in a town hall meeting at his presidential center, Carter said that Representative Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s health care speech was also rooted in racism.


In a country that has learned to re-label and package racism and racist activities under names such as Affirmative Action Reform, “Birthers” (referring to those who insist that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen) and “Social Conservatism,” it wasn’t surprising that some people expressed shock and outrage over Carter’s comments. However, for most honest Americans, President Carter’s comments are not shocking, they are common knowledge.


Neo-conservatives and the Christian Right within the Republican Party have never been hesitant to use race when seeking to further their agenda. Affirmative Action was first introduced in 1969 by Arthur Fletcher, an African American Republican and used by President Richard Nixon as a way to bring more middle class African Americans to the Republican Party.


Of all the issues that plagued our country in 2000, why did Republicans decide to make repealing Affirmative Action a campaign issue? They even renamed Affirmative Action, calling it “Racial Preferences” and misrepresented what Affirmative Action is. Republicans didn’t do this because their constituents were flooding their offices with letters about the evils of Affirmative Action, they took on Affirmative Action to divide and conquer. They needed to consolidate certain White voters and they did so by playing on their deep rooted fear that African Americans were unfairly taking their jobs, promotion opportunities and livelihoods away from them. The truth is White women have been the biggest benefactors of Affirmative Action, but facts don’t matter when you’re playing the race card.


Anyone with a computer can go online and see President Obama’s birth certificate. He was born in Hawaii in 1961. His birth was announced in separate newspapers in Hawaii. That does not seem to be good enough for the Birthers. Somehow, they believe that President Obama was able to have those records altered before he was elected president. Facts don’t really matter when deep-seeded racial beliefs cloud your judgment.


Mainstream media referred to Senators Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Trent Lott as “Conservatives”. Thurmond and Helms were DixieCrats, strict Segregationists. Trent Lott never saw any civil rights laws come pass his desk that he deemed worthy of his vote. However, at some point in our country, it became passé to refer to racists as racists. We created a new name for them, Social Conservatives.


Joe Wilson, the Congressman from South Carolina is a “Social Conservative”. Wilson is now famous for shouting “You Lie” at president Obama during the President’s speech on health care reform. Wilson, who supported keeping the Confederate battle flag at the State House in South Carolina also spoke out against Strom Thurmond’s daughter that he fathered by a Black maid. Wilson was upset that she revealed herself as Thurmond’s daughter and said that her appearance was a “smear” on Thurmond and served to “diminish” his legacy. What’s wrong with a woman claiming her legitimate birth right?


After hearing of President Carter’s comments regarding his father, Wilson’s son Alan told reporters, “There is not a racist bone in my dad’s body”. Perhaps Alan should have a CT Scan run on his father. In my world, as well as anyone that isn’t in denial’s world, Strom Thurmond and those who supported his politics are racists.


Wilson has used his outburst against the President to raise money for his re-election bid. He knows that his best chance of being re-elected is to fire up the good ol’ boys by showing disrespect to a man that in their warped minds could not be the legitimate leader of the “Free World”, let alone the America they know and love.


Don’t get me wrong, we should respect and defend anyone’s right to disagree with or dislike this president and his policies. Political differences and disagreements with the Obama Administration should never be confused with racism. Now that African Americans live in a country where it is possible for our sons and daughters to rise to the highest office in the land, we cannot be overly sensitive to the criticisms that come with the office.


If Wilson or any other Republican wants to debate the merits of the health care bill, their honest input is welcome. The truth is they’ve had no constructive input. Wilson and his henchmen have acted as Obstructionists. They don’t participate honestly in debates; they only oppose any ideas regarding health care. If they can block Obama from passing any type of meaningful legislation during his term, they will be in better position to win in 2012. To quote Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo, it will break him”.


The Republicans’ game plan is obvious. They used it against President Clinton and Senator Kerry in the 2000 election. Create an air of hostility against the President through repeated lies and distortions of the facts. Now that they’re up against President Obama, they’re not above evoking old racial stereotypes and playing on the fears of their mostly white constituency.


Anyone that saw clips of the town hall meetings on health care reform witnessed loud, rude and disruptive people planted in the audience to disrupt anyone’s ability to have a civil and constructive conversation regarding the facts around health care. If you listened carefully to the disruptors, you could hear them saying, “I want my country back”. This is code language.


Who took their country? Is it possible that they mean they want a white president? Is it possible that they see an increased Latino population and a black man named Barak Hussein Obama in the Oval Office and it scares the hell out of them?


These are the people that the Republican Party is pandering to these days. Are the Republicans racist? I don’t believe that. However, when you use race as a tool for your own personal gain, you are playing the race card.


The Republicans seem to have a whole deck of cards. They also seem willing to continue to play the race card without hesitation. Like former President Carter, we need to call them on it every time.




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“Speaking Truth To Empower.”


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