Spent way too much of this weekend petitioning in the hot weather to get Joy and me on County Committee and our friend Devin Cohen on the ballot for Civil Court judge. I can’t complain too much because Devin is wearing himself out walking districts, petitioning for himself and others, meeting voters and generally doing his part. But even the small part we did with Devin wore me out. But it also gave me yet another personal encounter with Republican ugliness. It isn’t my first and it won’t be my last.
In 2006 I encountered a particularly nasty Republican liar in Bay Ridge while I was campaigning for Steve Harrison for Congress and they were campaigning for Vito “Two Families” Fossella. This Republican woman was telling voters that Fossella was an Independent. She got angry with me for correcting her each time by pointing out that he was a Republican that she actually shoved me. Well, lying and violence is Bush Republicanism, so what can we expect from our local Republicans?
Petitioning through Brooklyn this weekend we approached many people asking if they are registered Democrats. Many just say no, wanting to get on with their life. Some say yes and hear us out and either sign our petition or not. Then there was the ugly Republican, a man who illustrated precisely what is most wrong with the Republican Party today. This particular nasty Republican was a gentleman dressed in camouflage-pattered clothes (funny…don’t people notice they are in a city so camouflage just looks silly) with a dour look on his face. I was going to give him a miss, but my friend approached him and asked whether he was a registered Democrat.
“Absolutely not! What do you think is going to happen with a black man running this country. I even hear he may be a Muslim.”
Herein is the ugly underbelly of the Republican Party. Many republicans believe that only whites have the right to run the country. He even said something I didn’t fully catch about “they’ve never done anything for us.” Well one can come up with thousands of examples of blacks who have done wonders for us, from Crispus Atticus to the many black heroes who gave their lives in military service, just to name one kind of example. How about the Tuskegee Airmen? Dr. Charles Drew may well have saved more lives than 99% of whites. Yet to Republicans none of these people matter because they are black. What do I think is going to happen with Obama running this country? I think we will do far, far better than when either Bush or Reagan or Nixon or Ford did when running the country.
And the Muslim comment is doubly stupid. First, he is not a Muslim. Anyone who believes that is believing a deliberate lie that has been disproven. They are as gullible as can be. But even worse, so what if he WAS a Muslim? I have known dozens of Muslims living in NYC, serving as EMTs, doctors, educators. I know one who rushed down to ground zero in 9/11 (while Bush and Cheney were hiding) to help.
Republicans are terrified. They fear blacks and they fear Muslims. They fear freedom of speech and a fair vote. They fear democracy. Republican fear reaches a kind of hysteria that I personally find pathetic.
But these acts of ugliness are not unique. There is racism on the left as well, but never so deep, so wide and so angry as Republican ugliness. Gatred goes much further and is much more ingrained in the modern Republican ideology. From Bill O’Reilly, Steve King, and Pat Robertson to the Delaware Pogrom and Indiana’s “2% solution” against Jews, references to blacks as monkeys, the institutional racism involved in leaving poor blacks to drown in New Orleans, and racism in Montana against Indians, right down to Republican hatred of Catholics, Jews, and Muslims, Republican racism may not be unique, but it is particularly nasty, widespread and dangerous.
I have compared and contrasted right wing racism vs. the more subtle left wing racism in “Angry White Men and Conveniently Compassionate White Men”. I also should state that I know many non-racist Republicans, but I have found them almost universally disgusted by their own party since Bush took over, and they aren’t too happy about McCain. Democrats reflect the inherent racism in America, and let’s face it, the nomination of Obama with such high voter turnout shows that Democrats, as a group, are overcoming that at least to some degree. Republican racism reprepsents the embracing of an extremist right wing fanatical ideology that has split the Republican party. The man I met yesterday embodied the worst kind of American racism.
The party of Dwight D. Eisenhower is paralyzed by hysterical fear. The party of Lincoln is displaying unabashed racism. Pathetic. It is no wonder people are leaving the Republican Party in disgust.