In 2012 GOP Primary Campaign, "Racist Dog Whistle" Sounds Like a Bullhorn

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Posted Jan. 25, 2012

Interview with Kevin Alexander Gray, writer and activist, conducted by Scott Harris


As candidates for the Republican party nomination for president battle each other in primary states this year, the nation is reminded of the party’s longtime history of appealing to racial hatred. Since President Johnson signed civil rights legislation 40 years ago, many politicians within the GOP have embraced racial politics to win over white voters, especially in the South, where the majority of whites had been loyal Democrats since the New Deal era of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Richard Nixon’s exploitation of racial division to win votes in southern states is referred to as the GOP’s “Southern Strategy.”

With this November’s presidential election where Barack Obama, America’s first black president will be campaigning for re-election, issues of race are never too far below the surface. On the primary campaign trail, Newt Gingrich claimed that Obama is America’s "greatest food stamp president in history," and also urged that 9-year-old inner city youth be hired as janitors to clean toilets, instilling a work ethic they lack. Rick Santorum attempted to cover up a highly charged statement where he declared, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Ron Paul’s history of racist rhetoric can be read in his newsletters, in which one article made this observation about the 1992 Los Angeles riots: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks….”

The Republican party’s contemporary hero, Ronald Reagan, very consciously launched his 1980 national campaign for the presidency in Philadelphia, Miss., the town where civil rights workers Michael Henry Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were murdered in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the local sheriff’s office. At the campaign stop in 1980, Reagan advocated the restoration of “state’s rights,” interpreted by many in the South as advocating a return to pre-civil rights laws that banned segregation. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with writer, activist and South Carolina native Kevin Alexander Gray, who examines the long history of the Republican party’s appeal to race hatred in U.S. election campaigns, and the GOP primary election in South Carolina.

Find a link to Kevin Alexander Gray's articles at Kevin Alexander Gray's blog: The New Liberator.

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