Back on December 15, 2014, I posted a brief reflection on the fact that one of our nation’s two major political parties (the Republicans) has become a haven for those unwilling to relinquish their irrational, hateful attitudes toward people of color. I referenced research that found those who identify as Republican are far more likely to also embrace racist views.
We could hope the researchers were wrong and that a nation dedicated to the principle of freedom and equality for all of humanity would not harbor even a slight acceptance of such views. But I believe that would be naive thinking. I return to this topic today only because we have recently learned that the third ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives has had close contact with the likes of David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan. To wit, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana spoke to David Dukes’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization. You don’t need a thesaurus to see through the euphemistic name Duke came up with for his latest white supremacy organization after his tenure as leader of the Klan. And you don’t need a crystal ball to know that Mr. Scalise had to be well aware of the organizations racist underpinnings when he agreed to speak before such a group.
In fairness, Mr. Scalise denies any racist attitudes and says he regrets having made the appearance. Democrats and even some Republicans are demanding that Scalise step down from his position as Republican Party whip in the House. So far, the official reaction from House Speaker John Boehner is a statement supporting Scalise: “He has my full confidence as our whip, and he will continue to do great and important work for all Americans.” I have no doubt Mr. Boehner means that, but given the research and the continuing tolerance for racism in the Republican Party, I think Mr. Boehner accidentally left out an important word. He might have meant Mr. Scalise “will continue to do great and important work for all [white] Americans.
Political pundits are suggesting this episode might retard Republican efforts to expand their base in minority groups like Blacks and Latinos. I sure hope it does.