One of the topics on today's Sunday talk was the Shirley Sherrod affair, accusations of Tea Party racism, and race in America. David Brooks slithered out with the usual lamotronic responses in defense: everybody does it and I even saw Tea Partiers and actual Black People talking amicably on the mall. Not only that, but Sherrod was being racist when she said Andrew Breitbart wanted black people to be slaves again.
Let's take up the last point first, and start by reviewing the facts, which no one on the panel challenged: Andrew Breitbart posted a dishonestly edited video which made Sherrod look like a racist, getting her fired and exposed to public opprobrium in the national press. I say that she's entitled to be angry and entitled to a few intemperate words in characterising the SOB. Now it happens that I doubt her diagnosis of his motivation. I think that it was equally sinister but more pragmatic: he wanted to inflame racial fears and hatreds in order to embarrass the government and to promote the Republican agenda. Of course it doesn't matter what we guess about his motivations, what matters is his despicable deed.
The larger question is the racism embodied in the policies and deeds of the Republican Party. Yes, there are also racist Democrats, and yes, not every Republican is a racist. The point is that for the last fifty years the Republican party has pursued a deliberate policy of inflaming white fears and stirring up racial resentments. The Party and its members engage in outrage after outrage - the billboards comparing the President to Hitler and Lenin, the Congressman calling the President a liar on a solemn state occasion, the preposterous claims made by Limbaugh and Beck that Obama is motivated by a "deep hatred of white people."
There are, of course, crackpots, but nowhere do we see the Republican Party challenging, condemning or repud... - excuse me - refudiating* them.
The Republican Party has gotten rich promoting a subtler racism than the old Jim Crow of old-time Southern Democrats, but it's racism indeed, and the Republican Party is a racist Party until it does something to change its approach.