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Race and the Conservative Bloc

Robert Franklin

Posted on January 11, 2019 19:42

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On Thursday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) made what could be, perhaps, one of the worst miscalculations of his career, but is this just King being King, or is it part of something larger than just one man?

The New York Times published an article on Thursday, wherein Steve King, a Republican representing Iowa's 4th District, inquired:

"White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization -- how did that language become offensive?"

The fervor that manifested in the aftermath is completely warranted, and while a significant number of us will focus on writing endless op-ed's about King, his history of poor judgment in speaking, and whether he should be censured by Congress, others will seize this opportunity to reflect on the uncomfortable relationship a large number of American conservatives have with all things race.

I am focusing on the latter.

Speaking as a resident of ideologically-conservative Texas, I have seen that uncomfortable relationship first-hand. Topics concerning race are not seen as  being about race; instead  they are reclassified as economics or, as some put it, "inherent sociological and cultural differences." I, like many, were brought up believing "race is solved," and spoon-fed sugar-frosted claims that "everyone is equal" and that everyone could live the American dream regardless of their skin color.

As I grew up, I came to realize that a sunshine and rainbows view of racial harmony -- much like many other topics carrying negative sociological significance -- was little more than a lie, designed to make me feel better about being white, an indoctrination by people who could not confront the genocidal shortcomings of their ancestors.

That's not to say that every conservative shares this view. Such an assumption would be disingenuous. However, if I may write anecdotally, I see that view disproportionately among conservatives. I see it in how they approach topics of race. I see it in how they hide from topics of race.

When things happen that carry a heavily racial narrative, it's the conservatives who question the narrative's validity. It's also the conservatives who disproportionately say or do things that are racially disparaging. I won't go as far as to say a significant portion of conservatives are themselves racist, at least flagrantly, but I don't think it's unreasonable to conclude that racism exists more prominently in conservatism than liberalism, and that a fair amount of conservatives are, at least, ignorant enough of modern race relations to not fully comprehend them, even if they are deliberately doing so.

It's quite possibly because they were lied to about race relations the same as I was.

So let's answer Rep. King's questions,  let's at least try and scale back the misinformation. Phrases like "white nationalist" and "white supremacist" are offensive because of hundreds, if not thousands, of years of white people oppressing, enslaving, and systematically butchering people of color. White history has been largely emblematic of not only that oppression, enslavement, and brutality, but also the illogical, racist motivations and justifications for those acts. Moreover, these actions aren't confined to distant history; they continue to this day.

They continue to happen, in large part, because it is whole-heartedly American to be largely ignorant on the subject of race.

Robert Franklin

Posted on January 11, 2019 19:42

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Source: CNN
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