Tag Archives: immigrant detention

Who Is More Racist, Republicans or Democrats?

17 Sep

Lately, the debate over who is more racist, the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, has heated up, with accusations flying from both sides. The discussion really got going when Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes, said of Republicans, “It is undeniably the case that racist Americans are almost entirely in one political coalition and not the other.”

That got the twitter-verse screaming foul. Hayes himself quickly took back his statement citing economist Alex Tabarrok’s research revealing that where racism is concerned, the parties are pretty much in a tie.  Hayes also cited John Sides‘ research that indicates a slightly stronger lean toward racism among Republican’s. But while the lean seems real, it’s not significant.

I side with Tabarrok and Sides. Racism is a problem for both parties. But, I think the issue is more complicated than what’s indicated by their research.

While I agree that the base of each party is equally racist, at least as measured by the narrow metrics of the research, the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans has to do with how each party’s leadership deals with the racism in their ranks. The Republican’s strategy is to organize, amp up, and exploit racist sentiment for political gain. Where racism is concerned, the GOP is about as manipulative as you can get, and given the history of this country and the affect of that history on our culture, that’s saying something.

One can’t put too fine a point on this difference. The Republicans are inciting a racist movement for political gain. Because of that they are, I believe, more dangerous. However, while they are actively breaking new ground and expanding opportunities for racists and racism, they’re no more cynical nor effective at institutionalizing, or at least accommodating, racism than the other side.

The Democrats present themselves as agents of equity while acting in ways that define what is necessary to achieve equity as nothing more than a bunch of empty platitudes. And that’s not the worst of it. Obama has one upped the Republicans when it comes to xenophobia, not through his words but through his actions, ordering a record number of immigrant detentions and deportations.

The Obama administration has also done next to nothing to end the crisis of mass incarceration of black and brown people in the U.S. They have also failed to directly address the disproportionate impact of the recession and the mortgage crisis on communities of color.

When it comes to race, the Republicans have started a racist movement that is pulling them ever further to the right. But the Democrats have passively played along by following them to the right to capture the political space the Republicans’ rightward march is leaving open. In other words, for the sake of political gain, the Democratic Party has, over the last 32 years or more, grown increasingly conservative on race, not to mention many other issues.

The Obama administration’s policy on deportations is one expression of that growing conservatism. His near silence on the issue of race is another.

I get the fact that being a Black president in a racist society makes talking about race poisonous to Obama’s political prospects. He didn’t create that problem. But, if you buy that, then it’s up to us to be the antidote to that poison by stepping up the pressure and making it more politically expedient for him to speak out than to shut up.

Even in this campaign, with coded and not so coded racist messaging a core strategy of the GOP, the Democrats are leaving discussions of racism to their surrogates. And boy are those surrogates buzzing about Republican racism.

But are they doing so in order to end racism? Nope. They’re doing so in order to make political points.

Now that’s cynicism, and it needs to be called out, not just because it’s bad politics, but because it leads to bad policy.

President Obama – Not Ahead of the Curve

15 Jun

Today President Obama acted by directive to provide a 2 year “deferred action” on deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. I’m overjoyed at the change. But am I grateful? Nope. I say it’s about time and, BTW, not enough.

No doubt the directive was prompted by the fact that the Republicans were about to announce a proposal via Marco Rubio meant to build support for the Republican Party among Latino voters.

I know that the Rubio proposal was just a political maneuver with no teeth. I’m not lauding Republicans. But never doubt that they, not human rights advocates, drove this decision. This had to do with the Obama team winning the Latino vote in the upcoming election by outflanking the other side. We deny this at the expense of our ability to get ahead of our national leaders; to get behind the wheel of our policy agenda and not just consign ourselves to the role of political backseat drivers.

The directive was the issue driving discussion on the Dylan Ratigan show today. In the discussion on air, liberal pundit Krystal Ball touted the President’s “courage” on social issues, citing his recent statement of support of same-sex marriage as “ahead of the curve.”

I was frustrated with the too little and, for many, too late directive, but I’ll admit that Ball’s statement was what got me writing. Ahead of the curve on same sex marriage? Courage in regard to immigrant rights? I call b.s.

I mean, if the order today and Obama’s statement in support of same sex marriage are ahead of the curve, we need a new curve.

On the issue of marriage, is the President ahead of the curve by evolving to support in an election year when young voters, overwhelmingly in support of same sex marriage, will be a factor at the polls? Only if that curve is drawn by pollsters, and not by the moral imperative at stake in this issue.

And concerning the deferred action on deportation? I won’t call it courage to finally provide temporary relief for a problem requiring a permanent solution, and years ago.

According to the ACLU:

In 2010…363,000 immigrants [were held] in detention in over 250 facilities… Among those locked up for months or years are survivors of torture, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, families with small children, the elderly, individuals with serious medical and mental health conditions, and lawful permanent residents…who are facing deportation because of old or minor crimes.

In the immigration system, 84% of detainees have no lawyer. They are denied bond and can be held indefinitely. Many are detained for years without ever going to court to determine whether their detention was legal to begin with.

And those with past convictions are not the whole story. In fact, they are a red herring of sorts, distracting us from the fact that nearly half of those deported in 2011 had no past criminal conviction. Their only “crime” was crossing the border without papers. And once arrested, their human rights were not a consideration. Apparently in the U.S., the self described human rights champion, the only people counted as “human” and therefore eligible for rights consideration are citizens.

Krystal Ball should be ashamed of herself, calling out POTUS for being “ahead of the curve.”

How many same sex couples have been dissolved by death, with the survivor being excluded from the last moments of life of their loved one? How many have been excluded from wills? How long have same sex couples had to tolerate being treated as second class citizens, their basic humanity debated, while POTUS evolved?

And how many immigrant families have been torn apart, parents separated from children, husbands from wives, while we’ve waited for this temporary reprieve?

Why do we allow this kind of horse trading on matters of basic human dignity and human rights? And when those with the power to do something act, why does the “curve” get set at the point where they decide to act, and not along the lines of the lives of those for whom these decisions have life changing consequences?

It’s time for us to move the baseline on courage in America. If we don’t, I’m afraid of where following that curve will lead us.

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