Felicia Muftic: Ghosts of our country’s racist past haunting us again
Grand County, CO Colorado
We should be disturbed with the direction the presidential campaign is taking because ghosts of our country’s racist past are haunting us again. The GOP and some of its candidates are the medium at the seance table. Racial tensions still lie beneath the surface of political correctness, but what this country does not need is leaders who exploit this dark side of Americana.
Perhaps part of this resurrection of racism is owed to the election of an African American President. There are those who neither accept it or believe that he should be there, or who think he was of, from, and for, non-Americans. Another element is resentment against the estimated 11 million illegals from south of the border and wanting those law breakers gone, ASAP, regardless of impacts on families or any positive contribution to our society. Anti- immigration sentiment has also, always permeated a segment of U.S. society since the latter 1800s influx of Chinese and Irish.
The immigration issue is delivered by many in the GOP with an acidic tone. Policies concerning Hispanics have become conservative litmus tests. They slap down Republicans who take a moderate position on immigration policies or amnesty or dare support the “Dream Act” that would allow children of illegals to get instate college tuition. Newt Gingrich is calling Spanish the language of the ghetto, unmasked his insensitivity to Latino culture. It is no wonder a recent national poll conducted by Hispanic Decisions revealed that 73 percent of Hispanic voters were either hostile to the GOP or believed Republicans “don’t care too much” for them.
Immigration hard-liner Mitt Romney should not draw hope from the Florida primary. Florida Latinos are heavily Puerto Ricans and Cubans with unique legal immigration status. Immigration issues are much more important to those with Mexican and other Hispanic roots representing 20 percent of voters in Western swing states, including Colorado.
Obvious in the South Carolina GOP primary was, as some called it, Gingrich’s “dog whistle”, using coded words with meanings familiar to Southerners to appeal to those who still hold the attitudes of the old South, a cynical southern strategy. Images of the welfare queen who bore children who lacked any work ethic, the subservient janitor, the food stamp abuser, the vote cheaters who voted as dead people have been summoned by the dog whistle. Yet, he stuck the dog whistle in his pocket when he had to appeal to more moderate Floridians.
Gingrich’s calling the President “the food stamp president” is his way of linking Obama’s race to welfare queens. He claims Obama has put more individuals on food stamps. Untrue, too. Per U.S.D.A. data, reported by USA Today, fewer individuals have received food stamps in the Obama administration than in the W Bush administration.
That minorities need to get a work ethic is another Gingrich reference to past racial stereotypes. Thanks to Gingrich’s own efforts, welfare reform has succeeded to the extent that most families now have at least one member working. Gingrich wants to put those kids to work being janitors from a young age and suspend child labor laws to make it possible. The Obama approach is to give those kids a decent education, make it possible for them to go to college, and provide them a variety of role models with summer youth internships .
The GOP has also antagonized minorities by supporting a coordinated strategy to suppress participation by voting blocks favoring Democrats and dredging up memories of literacy tests and poll tax barriers to voting. GOP elected officials claim fraud is widespread when there is absolutely no supporting data. They have tried to make voting more difficult for elderly and minorities, many who do not have cars or drivers licenses, requiring them to produce a government issued photo ID. GOP elected officials also have tried to prevent mail ballots sent to less frequent voters, who are also elderly and minorities.
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