Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Southern Republican Racists

I have long defended the South against accusations that they are the only, or even the most, racist region in the country. While the South certainly has its share of racism, you'd be hard-pressed to find more intensive race hatred than in Chicago and Boston, and even in self-proclaimed liberal havens like Seattle and Santa Fe, there is more than a little racism flowing under the surface.

However, sometimes some Southerners do things that are so off the charts to make me regret the context I try to place American racism in. The Republican Party in Tennessee is doing just that. It's one thing for George Allen to be a racist. There are racists everywhere and some of them go into politics. That's he still likely to win reelection in Virginia is disturbing, but at least the state Republican party has not stooped to racist depths (that I know of) in their advertising.

Not so the campaign of Bob Corker in his race against Harold Ford for Bill Frist's Senate seat. Over the last week, two ads have come out showing the Republican Party for what it is--the party of white supremacy. In probably the worst ads since Jesse Helms' famous white hands ad of 1990, Corker first put out an ad that more than hinted at biracial sex. Today, he put out a radio ad featuring African drums. Both Corker and Ken Mehlman kept their distance from the white woman ad, although neither exactly condemned it either. Probably both are behind it. But there is no question where the African drum ad is coming from--Bob Corker himself has approved the message.

There is no alternative analysis to this, no way to spin it. This is racist. Bob Corker is a racist. The Tennessee Republican Party is racist. And unless the national Republican Party comes out and strongly condemns this, they are also racists.

It's 2006. Racism is still as dominating a feature of American life as ever.

UPDATE--The Republican Party pulled the interracial sex ad after severe criticism from around the country. Of course, the message is still out there and we'll see how Tennessee voters respond. Ken Mehlman continues to insist the ad is not racist. We'll see what happens with the radio ad.