Yesterday an NBC reporter asked Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu why Obama’s approval ratings in the south were consistently so low. Without hesitation Senator Landrieu (Democrat) responded after noting that while the south has strong economic ties to the oil and gas industry, there’s something else, “I’ll be very, very honest with you. the South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”
No kidding. The degree of vitriol, blaming and shaming that has been directed at Obama has surpassed anything in history, besides possibly presidents that deserved such treatment such as Franklin Pierce or Richard Nixon. Couple that with the resurrection of Jim Crow type threats, such as hanging nooses in front yards to using racist stereotypes to demean and degrade the president, one has to wonder sometimes what century people are living in.
No doubt the Republicans don’t like being called ignorant bigots, but look at their policies and the statements of many politicians and especially the expressions that burst on the public scene within Tea Party rallies. Someone called the dog whistles so loud they all came running out of the pen. Now here we are with Obama having served two terms and experiencing obstructionism unlike any other president, save possibly prior to the civil war when the south drew together in opposition to the threat of abolition. But this is 2014 isn’t it? Why do southerners and conservatives draw back and bare their teeth when anyone dare mention the ‘R’ word: Racist! The attacks on Landrieu for her comments contain all the predictable smear.
Being called out can get pretty uncomfortable, especially when its true and you’ve got no possible way to evade the obvious. Hence the “conservative” who supports policies that deny the existence of racism in this country, that want everyone who suffers from racism or inequality to just “get over it”. Sure, but why can’t conservatives just “get over it” with being called out for denying history? (Oh wait, there’s more recent evidence of Republicans not being racists! Check out this from Alternet!) Possibly because getting over it would mean then addressing issues that persist that relate directly to the construct of division of people and communities by skin color in order to keep bondage and general oppression in place.
Considering that Africans, although kidnapped and held against their will, managed to build the south and provide much of the profit for the northern merchant class as well for at least a good 200 years, you’d think the south might have a wee bit of gratitude. If one adds to that the period after emancipation when black folks still experienced a system that locked them into a state of servitude by skin color separation and social ghettos one would wonder why anyone would even dare to deny that a system of race based oppression grew in this country. The mansions and plantation houses from Virginia to Mississippi visited by people all over the country are usually fawned upon for their splendor and architectural beauty. Does anyone recognize or attempt to understand the pain and suffering that went on at those places? The unpaid hands who built them?
There are so many questions that must be asked if justice will ever be reached on the damage caused by slavery and the social system derived specifically to keep it in place and everyone in their place; including poor white folks. Instead, when any mention of the former “Peculiar Institution” and its relationship to the south occurs, an unprecedented howl of righteous fervor rises from below.
Unlike most other accusations of racism directed at the south or conservatives in general, Landrieu’s cannot be shunned as mere criticism from uppity northerners or carpet-baggers, because she is actually one of their own. Landrieu has had the audacity to break the unwritten code of the south wherein public figures shy away from public discussion relating to that Peculiar Institution and Reconstruction. You can talk all day and the rest of your life about the “The War of Northern Aggression” and how President Andrew Johnson’s quick work turned Reconstruction into Deconstruction and put former rebel officers (treasoners) back into political positions and returned a defacto culture of slavery to the south. But never ever mention that the south had anything to do with forcing an entire mass of people into bondage and hard labor to build the original American aristocracy, both north and south.
There’s too much at stake as everyone knows, as every white southerner has always known. As every white southerner who ever inherited any wealth derived from the antebellum period knows, admission of guilt is only the beginning to opening the floodgates of justice. As always, those who beat their chests the loudest about something usually have the most to hide. In this instance, the so-called “pro-liberty” and “pro freedom” party would rather keep the rate at which liberty and freedom are meted out, under their sole control.