If Only Arizona Were the Real Problem
By Frank Rich
To the “Take Back America” right, the illegitimate Obama is Illegal Alien No. 1. It’s no surprise that of the 35 members of the Arizona House who voted for the immigration law (the entire Republican caucus), 31 voted soon after for another new law that would require all presidential candidates to produce birth certificates to qualify for inclusion on the state’s 2012 ballot. With the whole country now watching Arizona, that “birther” bill was abruptly yanked Thursday.
The angry right and its apologists also keep insisting that race has nothing to do with their political passions. Thus Sarah Palin explained that it’s Obama and the “lamestream media” that are responsible for “perpetuating this myth that racial profiling is a part” of Arizona’s law. So how does that profiling work without race or ethnicity, exactly? Brian Bilbray, a Republican Congressman from California and another supporter of the law, rode to the rescue by suggesting “they will look at the kind of dress you wear.” Wise Latinas better start shopping at Talbots!
In this Alice in Wonderland inversion of reality, it’s politically incorrect to entertain a reasonable suspicion that race may be at least a factor in what drives an action like the Arizona immigration law. Any racism in America, it turns out, is directed at whites. Beck called Obama a “racist.” Newt Gingrich called Sonia Sotomayor a “Latina woman racist.” When Obama put up a routine YouTube video calling for the Democratic base to mobilize last week—which he defined as “young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women”—the Republican National Committee attacked him for playing the race card. Presumably the best defense is a good offense when you’re a party boasting an all-white membership in both the House and the Senate and represented by governors who omit slavery from their proclamations of Confederate History Month.
In a development that can only be described as startling, the G.O.P.’s one visible black leader, the party chairman Michael Steele, went off message when appearing at DePaul University on April 20. He conceded that African-Americans “really don’t have a reason” to vote Republican, citing his party’s pursuit of a race-baiting “Southern strategy” since the Nixon-Agnew era. For this he was attacked by conservatives who denied there had ever been such a strategy. That bit of historical revisionism would require erasing, for starters, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, not to mention the Willie Horton campaign that helped to propel Bush 41 into the White House in 1988.
"The illegitimate Obama is Illegal Alien No. 1"...that pretty much sums up the beliefs of teabaggers, birthers, and paper-checkers. To them, anyone who tries to help the poor and minorities through government programs is un-American. He's a "traitor" to the core principle of "real America"--that white male Christians should rule in perpetuity.
The first national Tea Party convention chose racist Tom Tancredo as its speaker...but teabaggers aren't racist at heart? Sure they aren't. Whom would they have to choose before the racism was clear: a Klansman in a sheet and hood?
It was nice of Michael Steele to admit what many of us already knew: that Republicans have been pursuing a pro-white agenda since 1968, at least. If they cared about the size and scope of government programs, they would've protested the government's expansion under Reagan and Bush. What they really care about is maintaining their power and privilege, which Reagan and Bush didn't threaten but (they believe) Obama does.
For more on the subject, see Teabaggers = Hatemongers, Conservatives Want Christian Textbooks, and Birthers = "Scared White People."
Below: The Illegal Alien-in-Chief.