Racist views held by radical, not mainstream Republicans

Jay Serrano, Managing Editor

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY, perfectly described the Republican Party when he told CNN that not all Republicans are racist, “but to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism.”

The one point he missed is that the Republican Party is working hard to disassociate itself from these racist elements.

It would be impossible to argue that we have become a colorblind society capable of ignoring race. It would also be impossible to argue that the Republican Party is racism free. Every group has it demons. The good news is when the racists in the Republican Party stick their heads above ground, the party leadership is quick to punish and scold them.

These small vocal groups are present in every level of the Republican Party. They are present in the voters, the state politicians, the federal politicians and the media stations and think tanks that espouse the far right’s rhetoric. No matter at which level the racism takes place, the sane majority of the Republican Party will punish the racists and withdraw support.

The most famous example of right wing racism right now is Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

Bundy managed to endear himself to the right with his refusal to pay taxes for using federally owned grazing land and his eventual armed stand off led the right wing media to paint him as a founding-father-like American revolutionary.

Despite the fact Bundy is the perfect poster child for the Tea Party, his racist tirade about how black people were better off under slavery drove away even his most vocal supporters in the Republican leadership.

During the 2012 presidential election season, a Romney supporter showed up to a rally wearing a T-shirt bearing the phrase “Put the white back in the White House.”

As soon as this image was brought to the Romney campaign’s attention it wasted no time in condemning this racism and told buzzfeed.com the shirt was reprehensible and such attitudes have no place in the election.

The elected officials somehow manage to be, arguably, even worse than their constituents.

Oklahoma House Majority Leader Dennis Johnson said on the statehouse floor “They might try to Jew me down on a price; that’s fine.”

After a quick private comment from a bystander, Johnson turned back to the stand. Instead of sincerely apologizing for his comment, he doubled down on the racism by following up with a joking apology that he forgot to mention the “Jews” were good small businessmen.

Using racial slurs in public speech is not unique to Johnson.

During a rally in front of the Alaskan Capitol Building U.S. Rep Don Young, R- Alaska, said his father “used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes” on the farm.

The Republicans were quick to try to redeem their party as a whole after these incidents.

After Young’s comments both Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, said that racial slurs do nothing to better the party and Young’s language was offensive and disgraced the office he holds.

Johnson and Young finally delivered authentic sounding, not joking, apologies after the Republican Party condemned their use of slurs.

Even the privately-owned think tank sector of the Republican Party is no longer a safe haven for racist ideas.

After (now former) Heritage Foundation member Jason Richwine’s PhD dissertation arguing minority groups will never reach IQ parity with white people made the news, the majority of Republicans were quick to distance themselves.

Even the Heritage Foundation quickly ran away from the position, emphasizing that the study was not written while Richwine was working for the foundation, and stating on one of its blogs that the foundation did not support the study.

On the blog the foundation’s vice president of communications wrote, “We believe that every person is created equal and that everyone should have equal opportunity to reach the ladder of success and climb as high as they can dream.”

To give credit where credit is due, the Republican Party is distancing itself from its more racist elements. While it should champion equality more strongly and the punishment for racism should be excommunication from the party, it is unfair to call the entire Republican Party racist because of the actions of a few extremists stuck in the era before the Civil Rights Movement.