Let’s engage in a thought experiment.
If Republicans were so terrified of impending electoral losses that they resorted to rallying pro-life voters by distributing mailers via surrogates that warned of forcible, government mandated abortion in the wake of a Democratic victory, the political press would be scandalized. The flipside of that scenario, Democrats embracing the caustic and dangerous notion that a Republican takeover of the Senate would herald a return to Jim Crow and state-supported racial violence, has not similarly incensed the Fourth Estate. In fact, a few of the more partisan political observers in the media see some merit to this argument.
It has become nearly commonplace to see fliers distributed in Southern states with competitive races on the ballot which warn African-American residents of the impending plague of Fergusons, in which militarized police forces descend on black neighborhoods in the coming Republican era. Some campaign literature indicates that more young black men like Trayvon Martin will be executed by overzealous George Zimmermans if the GOP takes the Senate. One group of leaflets in North Carolina even warned of the coming impeachment of Barack Obama and illustrated that message with images of white Southern men posing in front of the black victim they had just lynched.
Rather than denounce this toxic effort to message to the lowest common denominator, Democrats in tight Senate races in states like Georgia and Louisiana have tacitly endorsed the tactic. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) insisted that she is struggling to win a fourth term in office because her constituents are sexist, and they are reacting irrationally due, in part, to the latent racial antipathy that lingers in the South manifesting in voters’ mistrust of Barack Obama.
When Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd asked if she thought it was “appropriate” to scare African-American voters into backing Democrats at the polls by invoking the riots in Ferguson, Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn refused to answer. When pressed, Nunn insisted her campaign hasn’t directly disseminated racially tinged literature, “and yet I think it is something that merits a conversation by Georgia voters.”
“I really do,” she added. Anything for a bit of a bump in the polls, even at the expense of American racial comity.
The press does not see this as a moral failing, however. It is, in their view, just hardball politics; playing for keeps when the stakes are too high to justify half measures. Some, moreover, agree with the message that the South is intractably racist, and that ideology will be reflected at the polls on Tuesday.
“We can’t walk away from the history of the South,” insisted former White House Press Sec. Robert Gibbs. “It’s obvious, I think, race is still the predominant factor in Southern races.”
Oddly, Gibbs is not on record saying the same of Virginia and North Carolina when Barack Obama cleaved those states off of the Republican coalition in 2008.
What’s more, one could say the same thing of New York City. The Empire City quite nearly seceded along with the South in a show of solidarity with a region to which they were historically and economically linked. The Draft Riots were, in part, an expression of anxiety toward the Union and an outburst of frustration toward the black residents for whom nativist New Yorkers believed they were fighting and dying. The city experienced crippling race riots in Harlem 1935, 1964, and 1991. In politics, districts are fragmented along racial lines and GOTV messaging is almost always an exercise in forging racial solidarity. And yet, the great melting pot enjoys a reputation among Northern elites that is not irredeemably tainted by racial antipathy. Maybe it is just because the city’s residents vote the right way.
It wasn’t merely the predictable figures on NBC who insisted on Sunday racism is a reason for the Democratic Party’s woes. The panel guests on CBS’s Face the Nation drew grim expressions when they addressed the great scourge of racism plaguing the nation:
To his credit, Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin observed that the state which Landrieu insisted is overrun by Know Nothings has sent her to the Senate three times and is currently run by a two-term Indian-American governor. Tavis Smiley, committed not to reason but ideological rigidity, was not listening.
“She told the truth, and it just sickens me in this town that the truth is so subversive that it can’t be told,” he testified.
“The fact is that there are still vestiges of racial discrimination in the South,” New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin conceded. “Louisiana is a state that, in 1991, gave David Duke a lot of votes. That is not ancient history.”
No, but it is a generation ago. And if you have to reach that far back to support a point, perhaps you’re self-falsifying a bit.
None of these panelists noted that the studio in which they sat casting aspersions on the racial toxicity of the South is located in Washington D.C., a city which enjoys a reputation as the hate crime capital of the United States.
Racism is not a ghost that America has forever put behind it – this is a fact liberals require you state outright, because to defend the American public when they turn against Democrats is, in the minds of many, to assert that racism no longer exists. With that straw man liberally doused in retardant, it should be safe to say that this Democratic effort to both scare African-American voters into backing Democrats and to preemptively absolve the in-party of fault for their losses because they came at the hands of a Neanderthal electorate is beyond insulting.
The press should have a bit more respect for their audience than to propagate this narrative, but the media is uniquely susceptible to any message which justifies their sense of superiority.