“America is not a racist country”. It is a sentiment expressed by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and echoed by Vice President Kamala Harris. Pretty much everyone agrees that, despite many having racist beliefs, our country, by and large, does not support racism. So, why is right wing media ramping up the racist rhetoric?
In a word: Fear.
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Those on the right have become quite adept at using the scare tactic to keep their followers in line. Whether it’s someone on the left is coming for your guns, illegal immigrants are coming for your jobs (and your daughters), masks are taking away your freedom, or socialism is bad (for some vague reason), the right will take full advantage of the fear factor.
The latest right wing scare tactic is the racist Replacement Theory. In essence it states that those on the left are attempting to usurp White majority rule by increasing the number of minorities in America, making the White race the de facto “new minority”.
This approach is nothing new. Had Native Americans had access to the same media outlets we do today they would have, no doubt, warned their wide-flung brethren of the efforts of European settlers to unseat them as the once dominant people of America.
The introduction of slaves to the colonies came with warnings of race mingling by religious organizations as the fear of a dominant African strain was rumored to “infect” America.
As the nation’s immigrant population grew, Jews and Muslims flocked to our nation, welcomed by the Statue of Liberty, with hopes of escaping religious persecution. They were joined by the Irish fleeing the Great Potato Famine, Italians, Chinese and others seeking a new life, and even those who crossed the southern border to find work, as former slave-owners sought a new source of cheap labor following the Civil War.
America certainly has a racist past. Slavery will forever stain the history books.This was followed by the Jim Crow era where Blacks were treated like second-class citizens. Even the Civil Rights movement failed to blunt the treatment of Black Americans as the War on Drugs and racial profiling led to a disproportionate number of African-Americans being imprisoned for relatively minor offenses. This uneven treatment, coupled with abuse of Blacks by members of the law enforcement community gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Native Americans fared no better as treaty after treaty was broken in the name of eminent domain or Manifest Destiny as westward expansion and the discovery of mineral wealth on lands promised to these people led ultimately to the shameful Trail of Tears.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were disenfranchised of their businesses and homes. They were forced to live in Interment Camps for the duration of the Second World War. While they were eventually released when the war ended, they still faced discrimination. They were given some measure of justice when they were awarded reparations for the unfair treatment they endured.
So, the claim that America is not a racist country is certainly belied by its racist past. However, it’s the screams of the vocal minority that continue to propel these racist ideas. And it is the role that right wing media plays that amplifies these attitudes.
The attacks on September 11th led to a backlash against Muslims. The election of a Black president resulted in a rise in White Supremacists. And behind it all was right wing media with its conspiracy theories and racist policies. They found a Messiah in Donald Trump, who fanned the flames of racism much to the delight of his base.
This brings us to Replacement Theory. Those on the right would have you believe that there are coordinated efforts by Democrats to increase the number of minorities in order to ensure their hold on the seats of power.
They point to the results of the 2020 Census, and the shrinking number of Whites in comparison to the rest of the population. They blamed the influx of illegal immigrants on the Southern border for unemployment. While blaming President Biden for his mishandling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, they at the same time claim it to be a “false flag” operation aimed at garnering support for Democrats, or even a clandestine scheme aimed at bringing thousands of terrorists into the country .
Racism even extends to the coronavirus pandemic. By labeling it the “China virus”, those on the right have used it as justification for increased attacks on those of Asian descent. These attacks have increased 164 percent, and have since been labeled Hate Crimes.
And yet, they continue and are even being used as a reason to fight mask mandates and life-saving vaccines. The result has been deadly.
Racism is at the heart of the fight against Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project, which the right claims is an attempt to teach our children to hate America rather than instill them with “patriotic ideals” and a sense of nationalist pride that was prevalent in Nazi Germany. Instead, they propose an Anglo-centric 1776 Project which literally attempts to whitewash (pun intended) history while ignoring the multiple failures that our society needs to address.
The Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech. Nowhere does it guarantee the freedom to lie. It’s time to hold those on the right accountable!