There have been a number of recent polls and news stories that have made think of this question: What’s the difference between the Republican Party and the KKK? Based on recent news stories, the answer is sadly “The Republicans aren’t wearing sheets.” The party that gave the country Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower? The one that wrote the 13’th through the 15’th Amendments, and seminal civil rights legislation? That party is dead. The party which bears its name is not that party.
What convinced me of this is a recent poll: 51% of Republican primary voters are birthers. Yes, that’s right. A majority of Republicans think he wasn’t born in this country, with an additional solid percentage who “aren’t sure,” despite actual facts to the contrary. That goes along with the number who think he’s a Muslim, again, facts to the contrary. I have never heard a request for a birth certificate, until this. Even when one was shown – and yes, independently verified – it wasn’t “good enough.” Never mind that it would stand up in any court in the country, and that several people who knew his parents in Hawaii have said that he was born there. Never mind that one of the major flaps in the campaign was over the pastor of his church. There are still people – and predominantly Republicans – who believe that he wasn’t born in this country and that he’s a Muslim. I’ve been through a number of Presidencies, with my memory stretching back to JFK. Not once, up until 2008, have I ever heard a President’s citizenship or religion questioned. I’ve heard every other sort of accusation and charges, but not that. It wasn’t even asked of the Presidents who actually had different names from their birth names. Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, if you’re curious.
Any claims that it’s just a “legitimate concern” are complete bullshit. The fact that this only started when a black man with a non Anglo-Saxon name became President is the telling point. The fact that it continues – and apparently is the belief of a majority of the Republican Party – is a solid indicator that it’s simply due to his being black. Need more indicators that it’s now the Party’s policy, not just random individuals? Well, you have Haley Barbour defending the honoring of the founder of the KKK. Not surprising, given that he had fond memories of KKK organizations from his youth.
Then you have the whole assault on the 14’th Amendment. Birthright citizenship is being called a “loophole,” because after all, brown people are getting citizenship simply by being born in this country! The reality that this has been the law of the land since the beginning is ignored by the Republicans. In fact, the 14’th Amendment was simply the codification – and meant to be so – of that principle. There’s over a century of Supreme Court decisions on that very fact. It’s not a “loophole,” it’s the law, and it’s been a principle determinant of citizenship since the day the Constitution was ratified.
It’s interesting to look back at the KKK.
The second KKK preached Americanism and purification of politics, with a heavy tome of racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Communism, nativism, and antisemitism.
Substitute “Islam” for “Catholicism,” and you’re getting pretty close to what you hear coming out the the Republicans – and their Tea Party activists – today. The only difference is they’re not wearing sheets or burning crosses.