In 2008 when former President Obama was thrust into one of the biggest financial messes since the depression of 1929, his stated goal was to get us out of the ditch. With jobs being lost by some accounts at a rate of 800,000 per month and people wondering where and when their next meal was coming, the Republican refrain was 47 million people are on food stamps. The use of that political meme is GOP code for giveaways to people of color. The purposefully derisive name Obamacare, for the Affordable Care Act, was couched as taking something away from white America to give it to the undeserving black and brown America. The misidentified “Obama phone,” was a Reagan program, that became another racist meme to color the Obama administration as socialism run amok.
The Republican Party has learned the best way to kill a Democratic initiative is to give it the label of entitlement or associate it with people of color. They draw distinctions with terms like urban and real America, riots and civil unrest, and recently mischaracterizing Black Lives Matter and economic anxiety. Just yesterday, using tortured reasoning, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said the Capitol rioting was overblown because he saw no widespread use of arms by the insurrectionists. “This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” said Johnson. “I mean ‘armed,’ when you hear ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms?” he queried. The Capitol of the United States was breached, police and civilians were killed, beaten, and maimed and the GOP argument is reduced to minimizing the types of weapons used?
Throughout the impeachment trial, the constant comparisons of breaking the windows of shoe stores were used to create a false equivalency between shopping districts and the seat of Democracy. Let me not downplay the not only wanton but useless violence of burning local municipal buildings. The call for swift and severe prosecution is appropriate and I for one hope it happens. Unfortunately, I did not hear that same tampering down of emotions from Mr. Johnson about the summer protest in comparison to the insurrectionists who were armed with the same bats, sticks, mace, and anger. Of those in the BLM movement, Mr. Johnson had a different view, “Trump supporters would not riot. That would only happen, Johnson said, if Biden lost “and then BLM and Antifa, the anarchists would take to the streets. This isn’t our side that’s going to riot in the streets. That would be the other side if they don’t get the result they want,” said Sen. Johnson.
No one disputes the right to protest or legally challenge an election result. At least a million women took to the streets to protest Mr. Trump’s election in 2016. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed men and women protested the murder of George Floyd in a lot of cases flanked by rifle-toting counter-protesters. I still remember the striking photos of an armed couple, ready to fire on peaceful protesters in their gated community. Yesterday, Amy Cooper, a white woman who tried to weaponize the police against a black birdwatcher, because he demanded her compliance with the park’s rules and leash her dog, was exonerated after taking five racial sensitivity classes. Instead of feeling lucky to be released her lawyer has decided to exercise Ms. Cooper’s white privilege by threatening lawsuits against those who “rushed to the wrong conclusion.” Apparently, being armed with melanin is more dangerous than, bear spray, hockey sticks, clubs, and stun guns. There is a connective tissue in America and racism courses through its’ DNA.
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