They Aren’t Even Pretending Anymore

Over the past few years, I have become increasingly convinced that a variety of seemingly unrelated political attitudes and allegiances can only be explained by a deep-seated underlying racism. That conclusion doesn’t require us to disregard the complexities that dictate individual world-views and predict their saliency; I don’t mean to imply that individual circumstances are irrelevant–but the racist element is inescapable. History teaches us that previously suppressed bigotries  emerge and find expression when people are insecure,  financially or otherwise.

We are seeing that emergence play out in today’s Republican Party.

In the 1970s and 80s, when I was active in the GOP, I encountered people who expressed racist , anti-Semitic and homophobic opinions, but they were a distinct minority. If others with whom I worked shared those prejudices, they kept them to themselves; furthermore,  a significant number of  Republicans–including then-mayor Bill Hudnut– were vocal proponents of inclusion and anti-discrimination policies.

Maybe acceptance of diversity was easier at the time because most Americans didn’t anticipate the demographic changes that are now seen to threaten continued White Christian dominance–or maybe the current crop of GOP “leaders” is genuinely representative of the Republicans who remain after the “good guys” have mostly headed for the party exits.

Whatever the reason, those who are left in the GOP no longer feel the need to be coy about their White Nationalist beliefs. The recent CPAC meeting was held on a stage modeled on a recognizable Nazi symbol, and ABC’s recent report on the CPAC meeting was titled, “GOP congressman headlines conference where organizers push White Nationalist rhetoric.”

GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona was the surprise keynote speaker at a conference Friday night in Orlando, Florida, where speakers spread white nationalist rhetoric, organizers railed about the U.S. losing its “white demographic core,” and some called for further engagement like the ire that drove the Capitol attack on Jan. 6.

Gosar wasn’t the only “usual suspect” who appeared at the meeting. Others included former Iowa Representative Steve King, whose most notable “achievement” in the House was a long history of explicitly racist comments, and the equally offensive conservative commentator Michelle Malkin.

Gosar’s keynote was followed by a speech by a man named Nick Fuentes, identified as  founder of the America First PAC, who filled his talk with white grievance and anti-immigration rants. He is quoted as telling the crowd that “If [America] loses its white demographic core … then this is not America anymore.”

Fuentes went on to praise the Capitol attack, boasting about it leading to a delay in the certification of the election results.

“While I was there in D.C., outside of the building, and I saw hundreds of thousands of patriots surrounding the U.S. Capitol building and I saw the police retreating . I said to myself: ‘This is awesome,'” Fuentes said to the applause of the crowd….

“To see that Capitol under siege, to see the people of this country rise up and mobilize to D.C. with the pitchforks and the torches — we need a little bit more of that energy in the future,” he said.

The most terrifying part of that description is the sentence recording “the applause of the crowd.” The attendees applauded the perpetrators of the treasonous January 6th insurrection that left five people dead and did thirty million dollars of damage to the nation’s capitol.

The entire event revolved around fidelity to Donald Trump and acceptance of his Big Lie–from the “Golden Calf” Trump statue (which was reportedly made in Mexico…), to Trump’s willingness to make his first post-Presidency appearance at a meeting of far-right, proudly racist extremists.

I find admiration–let alone fidelity–to Donald Trump incomprehensible–but then I consider the effect of tribalism and political polarization. I still remember my long-ago discussion with a party “regular” about a Republican candidate that we all knew to be incompetent and probably corrupt. He didn’t disagree with my evaluation, but he smiled. “He may be a son-of-a-bitch,” he said, “but he’s our son-of-a-bitch.”

Trump may be the antithesis of the “family values” these good “Christians” claim to be about, but he hates and fears the same people they do. He’s their White Nationalist.


  1. Observing Indiana politics should be enough to conclude that racism and corruption go hand in hand.

    When I first started digging into Indy politics, I got lucky due to Tony Bennett’s ineptitude since he ran his political campaign from his Superintendent position, meaning all emails were accessible via FOIA. I got numerous emails from Republican wannabes out in the counties “who would do anything for their donor’s money.”

    The trove also included the Republican’s heavy-hitters donor list. Tony was brought in by Mitch Daniels, whose racism ran deep. His emails revealed deep hate for historian Howard Zinn because of the sympathetic account of African-Americans.

    Now, does anyone think the Republican donors might be racists as well?

    The Koch brother’s favorite pigeon was Papa John Schnatter, a famous Ball State University graduate. John was a flaming racist! Even when he knew the press was watching him, he couldn’t help himself. It just oozed from his pores. Same with the Koch brothers. Look at all the laws and policies they’ve devised for the Republican Party.

    When John Schnatter gave Ball State money for the entrepreneurial center, I had lots of fun writing about it and holding Michael Hicks accountable. They all stayed quiet until John screwed up again on a phone call WITH JOURNALISTS. Hicks came out and said BSU needed to give John his money back. LOL

    The Republicans who run the university had no problem with accepting his racist money. The Republican-appointed Board of Trustees had no problem accepting his bigoted money. The bigots within the Department of Business had no problem with their alumni’s bigotry and racism either.

    Just a quick note, most police departments across the country are staffed with conservatives – Republicans. Do you think any of them are racist to the core? 😉

  2. I fully agree with the sentiment expressed here regarding the end of white male Christian dominance. I believe that the furor around the former president is motivated in the realization of the end of power for this group who are desperately trying to hold on despite the demographic changes that are coming. My question is how to wrest power from this group now, in the present?If democracy is defined as rule by consent of the majority, why does the minority party hold so much power? And what should Americans do when our government does not listen to our demands for free and fair elections, the end of gerrymandering, and reform of campaign finance, to name a few?

  3. “If (America) loses its white demographic core…then this is not America anymore”.
    You can take the word America out of this statement and replace it with many other words to get the full impact of the extent of the racism in this society. Try the word “museum” for instance.

    People whose self identity is tied to an organization are easily led to places they would never have gone had it not been for that identity tie. I am thinking of those who not only lie to themselves, but to the public, in order to stay in the group. IMO such people are weak, and that weakness causes themselves and their family’s great pain. They don’t see it, of course. Instead their self righteousness kicks in driving away the honest among family and friends. Mike Pence comes to mind.

  4. You could make a case that the South won the Civil War. You see it in racial attitudes but you also see it in “right to work” laws and the emphasis on extreme Federalism and the tendency mythologize history. Trump’s so called “stolen election” will become the new “lost cause”.

  5. “People whose self identity is tied to an organization are easily led to places they would never have gone had it not been for that identity tie. I am thinking of those who not only lie to themselves, but to the public, in order to stay in the group.”

    Theresa Bowers, this deserves a post of its own. Thank you.

  6. Sheila, you managed to hit multiple nails on the head in today’s blog post.

    Thank you!

    Todd – I hope you have continued to publicly hold Michael Hicks accountable for his despicable opinions.

  7. Sheila brings up past of Indianapolis, and like I said, I’m not that familiar with it. But what I do remember, having relatives through marriage there, the Johnson family. One of the family was Marvin Johnson, was pretty interesting fellow and ex-boxing champion who owned car dealership and nightclubs and various other small venues.

    Remember them asking me in the fall of 1990, if I would be interested in moving to Indy and work for them. They ran the P shaker operations throughout the city. And, what I do remember was the piles of cash and the lines people waiting to get their lottery pieces and or payouts. I think, they were interested because my grandfather ran numbers in Chicago on the north and west sides. I recall them laughing about the phone calls they would get about a pending raid, and they would have a certain amount of cash that would be confiscated and everything would be cool for the next few months. I will say, there is quite the underbelly in Indy that is not as vocal as the white nationalist and racist types, but an underbelly that can cause a lot of damage to the white nationalist groups if threatened.

    In Germany, the gun laws started to change and it made it difficult for minorities and Jews to own weapons or purchase ammunition. Also, the gun laws were relaxed for the Aryan element to allow more liberal ownership of weapons for that group.

    They also roiled against communists and promoted their false flag operations on the Reichstag, burning it to the ground. This allowed them to demonize and eliminate the left and peg Jews as being communist socialists. Exactly what’s happening here.

    The racist undertone was always there in Germany just like it always was here in America. The only thing needed was a voice loud enough as a permission slip for them to act the way they always desired. To act on their beliefs and their alternate realities. Too bad, we don’t learn from history! What happens when you let a wound fester without treating its infection? Sepsis and death!

    A gangrenous limb has to be lopped off, or the body dies! It’s not graceful, it’s not aesthetically pleasing, but the body survives. It takes a certain type of chutzpah to take the heat and do what needs to be done. If you want to kill the rats, you have to descend into the rat holes. Religion worldwide has become a toxic sword for those filled with power lust, that sword should be pulverized!

  8. BTW, as I understand it, the “America First PAC” is Trump’s finance arm going forward.

  9. “Whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes, he stood there on Christmas Eve hating the Whos.” It turns out we are now discovering that Dr. Seuss was also racist in his early work (not really a surprise to those of us who read it). I wish he were here today to tell us what changed him so we might apply it to today’s America.

  10. I just wish people would stop calling these thugs “Christians”. They are so far removed from the teachings of The Christ it should be obvious they hate everything he stood for. Instead they are disciples of John Calvin & Oliver Cromwell who tried and failed to destroy Christianity in England. The correct term is Calvinists or Calvinism.

  11. Everyone remembers the good old days but our nostalgia varies all over the map about what made them great. One of the things that Republicans held against the Obamas was their notion that we could still be greater, that our best was yet to come. But they worshipped Trump for Make America Great Again, implying that our best was and needed to be recovered.

    Republicans hang tenaciously onto the past. Democrats strive for continuous improvement.

    I left the GOP and became a Democrat not because I hated the past but because I recognized that the rate and reality of progress in the world is making the past obsolete. MAGA pretends that there’s a choice to be made between the past and the future. Never has that been less true than right now.

  12. Todd,

    As I recall, Schnatter’s offense was, while CEO of Papa John, using the n word during an internal sensitivity-training conference call. It was provided in the context of what not to say. I believed at the time the backlash against him was over the top. Schnatter had publicly supported Republican candidates and was upset about the anthem protests, but I don’t think that makes one a racist. Schnatter may well have been a racist, but there wasn’t a lot of public evidence of that as I recall. Unless there is something in his record that I missed, which wouldn’t be the first time.

  13. Louis, one could say that the South lost the Civil War, but won Reconstruction.
    Pete, the “good old days” these folks remember are the days the White folk had power and control, and no sense that it was threatened; when the Black folk seemed to “know their place,” and “All was well with the world.”
    “They aren’t even pretending anymore,” because all other euphemistic, dog-whistle cuddling up to things like “Family values,” “fiscal responsibility,” and such have been seen to be nothing but the smoke screen it always was, and their bottom line need to grow, or even just retain, power and control, is slipping through their fingers.

    At CPAC one saw Cruz screaming for “Freedom!” Such screams are screams for the “FREEDOM” to “…exploit people into economic ruin; the freedom to assassinate unions; the freedom to prey on unprotected consumers, workers, and environments ; the freedom to value quarterly profits over climate change; the freedom to undermine small businesses and cushion corporations; the freedom from competition; the freedom not to pay taxes; the freedom to heave the tax burden onto the middle and lower classes; the freedom to comodify everything and everyone; the freedom to keep poor people poor and middle-income people struggling to stay middle-income, and make rich people richer.” From “How To Be An antiracist.”

  14. Louis @ 7:29: “Trump’s so called “stolen election” will become the new “lost cause”.”

    It has become the new “lost cause”. The “stolen election” in this case means the Reactionary Right Wing, bible thumper’s were out voted, for the GOP if you lose at the polls it was stolen.

    The Trumpet and the GOP are screaming massive fraud. As far as know they have yet to prove that allegation.

  15. Per Shiela this morning with reference to the January 6 insurrection: “The entire event revolved around fidelity to Donald Trump and acceptance of his Big Lie” – to which I offer the following quote from an unusually perceptive historian, Timothy Snyder, of Yale.

    “Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. Like historial fascist leaders, Trump has presented himself as the single source of truth. His use of the term ‘fake news’ echoed the Nazi smear LUGENPRESSE (lying press); like the Nazis, he referred to reporters as ‘enemies of the people.’ Trump lied at a pace perhaps unmatched by any other leader in history. To believe in all of them was to accept the authority of a single man, because to believe in all of them was to disbelieve everything else.”

    One comment > Sounds a lot like Orwell’s Big Brother. . .

  16. With Americans’ (mankind’s) almost universal desire to seem superior to others, and the unwillingness of most to work to achieve that status, it’s no wonder that Obama’s wisdom, intelligence, cool demeanor, experience, speaking skills, athleticism and awesome family panicked so many who knew they could diminish his positive qualities only by attacking him in a vicious and personal way. Such people found many listeners and gave new impetus to a level of racism that had seemed to be ebbing. In these people’s renascence (or “coming out”), the Republican party sensed an opportunity to ratchet up the racism that had served them so well since Goldwater and Nixon identified the opportunity. Gosar and CPAC are the 21st century manifestation (infestation?) of the party’s efforts to weaponize this base and cement its role as part of the mainstream.

    Wayne LaPierre and the NRA have given them something to talk about other than their common abhorrence for people of non-white races, although – at a more fundamental level – White Nationalism makes them feel part of a movement that exhibits little shyness about their core beliefs. With high-ranking officials of state and federal governments reassuring them of their relevance, they grow ever more confident in their sacred mission to make America safe and secure for Caucasians. Hitler could not have hoped for more from his followers.

    The Reichsgericht, Germany’s version of our Supreme Court, was the equivalent of our own conservative justices who have ordained that money makes no difference in politics and anti-voter suppression laws are no longer needed. True, Germany had a leader, as we did, who encouraged racist aggression, and Germans looking for reasons for their failures willingly agreed that it had to be the Jews. White (Aryan) Nationalism flowed through the German heart as it does through the veins of Congressional rioters. Because it poses such a direct threat to democracy, racism is the seminal issue of our time and, in all likelihood, the most existential. It’s hard to believe that our national future is so closely tied to how we handle the belligerent bleating of these whiney babies.

  17. CPAC is really supportive of a SWAMP Straight white anglo-saxon male protestant. They don’t have Gene Rodenberry’s vision from Star Trek of a universe where we live in a federation with aliens. They let fear of the other damage their curiosity about what they could learn from someone different from themselves. They are even afraid of scientific discoveries. They would rather be trapped in the delusion of self-righteousness than the wonderful humility of open mindedness and the capacity to admit to one’s errors.

    I see an America of many colors, faith traditions, gender identies and sexual orientations, and ethnicities all standing together and upholding the Constitution. I know that’s an idealist vision. Would it not be grand if our nation became a real beacon of creating unity in the midst of diversity ? Wouldn’t it be miraculous if we showed the world the power of coming together to create a nation of justice and peace ?

    It’s a shame that Republicans have a destructive vision rife with white supremacy and that they have succumbed to lust for power and money. It’s a shame they have delusional disinformation to which so many people have succumbed.

    It’s time for Democrats to become afraid enough of this white nationalism that we start moving to get the vote out more especially since the red states are changing voting laws that create voter suppression for many, especially minorities.

    And in the meantime I can only hope that Biden’s administration moves quickly to guard us against domestic terrorism.

  18. When was the USA great? During slavery?The genocide of the American Native? Reconstruction after slavery? Grabbing parts of Mexico,Spain,almost Canada? Racists against every immigrant group,including Catholics,Jews,Islamics,etc ad nauseum ! Their really great time was fighting in a World War Two,albeit relatively late! But they were terrific! I hope they survive the present chaos. If they do,THAT would be truly great! We love them up here in Canada!

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