The Ugly Heart of the Radical Right

The radical fringe right is rallying their base and spreading lies and reactionary opinion pieces, all of which is race-baiting the popular discourse about the economic crisis and ultimately the election. In a calculated move, they have people like Ann Coulter and Jeff Jacoby publishing opinion pieces basically saying that the blame for the economic crisis is on the shoulders of liberals and people of color.

Last week, the American “Family” Association revealed their true racist colors in two emails they sent out, pointing fingers at the Clinton and Carter (what?) Administrations, equating liberal advocacy for minority home ownership with the risky loan products that the predatory lenders on Wall Street have been so happy to take advantage of. What they refuse to acknowledge is that greedy lenders and investors were taking advantage of the hopes of poor people, knowingly selling them loans that they couldn’t afford. All of this in a deregulated market happened under the watch of the Bush Administration.

The Campaign for America’s Future is addressing these racist attacks on their website, explaining the history of banks discriminatory lending practices, and Carter’s and Congress’ passage of the successful Community Reinvestment Act in 1977.

People are freaked out right now, and I fear that many will fall for this damaging and dangerous misinformation coming from the radical right, making racism acceptable, even patriotic. This translates back to the election.

No one wants to talk explicitly about how race is playing out in this election, so while people are busy trying to be polite and not make anyone uncomfortable, the radical right is preying on the prejudice and fear that live in people’s hearts. They aren’t ashamed to cross the line, as illustrated by this quote from Ann Coulter’s recent opinion piece:

“Instead of looking at ‘outdated criteria,’ such as the mortgage applicant’s credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named ‘Caylee.'”

As posted in a comment on John Ridley’s recent article on the Huffington Post, “They are using these tactics to distract and to exacerbate racial resentment among hardworking whites in the swing states.” They continue to expose their hateful hearts at every turn, and I just hope that the American people are smart enough not to fall for their bunk and once again vote against their own interests.

Resisting Racism

I read a great editorial by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post about Michael Richards’ recent racist tirade in a comedy club. Richards publicly apologized multiple times after the incident, claiming that he’s “not racist.” Robinson dismisses his claim of not being a racist, and I’m so glad to see that opinion out there. Robinson says “Don’t tell me racism is dead. It just shuns the light of day.”

Its disheartening to see so much of the reaction towards Richards’ tirade calling for people just to forget it, let it go. Forgiveness is appropriate, yes, but we must all take the opportunity to learn from something like this. I believe that Richards is truly sorry for what he did, but he’s still not getting it.

Richards claiming that he’s “not a racist” is a way to shirk responsibility for the ugliness that lurks in his heart. And how can he help it? He lives in the same racist culture that we all do. It is impossible to live in this world and not learn prejudice and racist attitudes, even if we’re not aware of it.

However, the words that he spoke were shocking, truly jaw-dropping. What he said was hurtful and ugly, not just something that someone blurts out in a turrets-like outburst. It seems to me that the nature of what he said had to have been calculated and premeditated. He had to have known exactly what he was saying in the moment.

One of the best ways to resist racism is to recognize it in yourself and take responsibility for it with purposeful change. It’s not pleasant to recognize ugly prejudice in yourself, and its humbling to admit that its there. But the only way to really change is to admit that you need to in the first place.