Last November’s post-election euphoria led numerous pundits of all political stripes to acclaim the dawn of a new, “post-racial” America—a nation that had finally beat back its sordid racial history by electing an African American to the White House. The acclamation was ludicrous then; it is utterly unimaginable now. The vicious dogs of racism are being unabashedly unleashed in countless ways that make the Cambridge Gatesgate look like the normal, everyday profiling it was and is for men of color in America.
The inane “birthers” lead the pack here, fronting the organized racist movement’s yen for obliterating the 14th Amendment to the Constitution (birthright citizenship) in its frenzy for the President’s Hawaiian birth certificate. The obnoxious “tea bag” protesters, fueled by the hate-filled Swift boaters, follow closely behind, swiftly destroying any iota of “non-partisan” credibility they may have claimed as they disrupt and destroy town hall meetings on health care reform during the Congressional recess. The anti-immigrant movement is part and parcel of the pack as well, cloaked in faux shirt-and-tie respectability as it attempts to mainstream its racist, eugenics roots and its dreams of a white nationalist future—an America of, by, and for white people.
All too many Republican leaders themselves have stoked the flames of this racial upheaval, quietly singing verses heard on Rushian talk radio and Dobbsian television and feigning “interest” in getting at the “facts” of the President’s birthplace, and even his age, “just to set the record straight.” Even worse, the Party itself seems to be wallowing back to its racially-driven, Nixonian, “Southern Strategy” aimed at building on white “working class” voters—particularly white men, both Democrats and Republicans—allegedly “disaffected” and angered by the rise of African Americans on the heels of the civil rights movement. Recent polls by the Pew Center, ABC News, and Gallup all show loss of approval for the President among whites in lower-middle income categories—an indication that all the racial/racist pandering by the foregoing packs is taking a toll… and clearly making the Republican right salivate at the prospect of taking back Congressional seats in 2010 in a wave of supposedly-collapsing Presidential popularity. More is yet to come; count on it.
Rather than a “post-racial” America the nation is in the throes, once again, of a racially-structured, racially-calibrated era, heading toward that point at which whites do, indeed, become a minority population. This, above all, strikes deep fear among that significant sector of the population that sees its own citizenship as the only valid expression of American identity.
A colleague recently discussing this reality with a friend over dinner experienced this grim truth when a white man at a neighboring table piped up and said, in response to the conversation about this dramatic demographic shift, “Yeah, but we’ll still have the power.” So much for a “post-racial” America; so much for a smooth transition into the emerging nation that beckons the fulfillment of the democratic vision… unless and until truth is truly spoken to, and fully confronts, that “power” that seeks to maintain its dominance.