Racism, Hypocrisy, And Republicans: A Meditation

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[Election 2008]


Surely Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., are rolling in their graves.


To see their images paraded and bastardized --there is no other word for it-- before the Republican Convention last evening in a video entitled “Service” was thoroughly nauseating.


It marked a low point in political candor and was truly one of the grossest historical distortions of the New Millennium.


To view the crowd shots at the Convention was to encounter a sea of whiteness—a bland, homogenous mass of conservativism and right-wing ideology, of reborn Christian hyperbole and bigotry, of power and privilege. African Americans remain on the back of the Republican bus. Latinos and Asians are not even on their radar.


And if there are any Hillary Clinton holdouts who thought the Republican ticket may hold the promise of a meaningful women’s rights platform, the appearances of Barbie dolls Laura Bush and Cindy McCain should have thoroughly dispelled them.


Academy-award winning actor Robert Duvall should be absolutely ashamed of himself for narrating such garbage. One of the trite and banal lines he uttered in the video claimed: "You can't really see your country, but you can love it.”


I certainly did not see my country reflected at the Xcel Energy Center this week in the Twin Cities. Far from it, I saw an America I did not know. I saw an assemblage that denied this country’s multicultural foundations and which disaffirmed its diversity.


Duvall of all people should know better. He broke into film playing Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley in the 1962 classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, a film that chronicled racial injustice in this country during the raw days of the civil rights movement.     


Of course, Duvall perfectly personifies the hypocrisy of the Republicans around issues of morality and family. He has been married four times, most recently to an Argentine woman 41 years his junior. So those are Mr. Duvall’s family values.


We find them similarly mocked by Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, whose 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, and who recently gave birth to a child with Downs Syndrome. And where is she now in relation to her family? Who is tending to her special needs child of four months as she and her husband go gallivanting around the country?


Republicans like Duvall and Palin call lie to the Republican rhetoric about family values. It has nothing to do with the preservation of family and everything to do with power and personal ego.


The economic failures and corrupt social policies of the Bush Administration have destroyed real families in this country. And real families all over the world.


Family values should know no borders.


To see the Republicans gathered in the Twin Cities last night was to see how far removed from the realities of American urban life are the McCains and Bushes and their fat-cat cronies.


If Abraham Lincoln called for us to reach for the higher angels of our being, the Republicans are preaching a down-and-dirty politics of selfishness and political depravity and pandering to our nation’s lower instincts.


This is a sad and somber time for America. Eight years of lies are now being trumped by the prospect of four more and four more after that. The thought of a McCain and Palin victory in November sends me into personal despair. I don’t believe I could live in their America.


I do not.


During the course of my life I have often bought into the rhetoric of the American Left that the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is the difference between Tweedledee  and Tweedledum. I suppose on certain issues that remains true to this day.


But as I watched the crowds at both conventions these past two weeks, listened to the speeches and read the various press accounts, I realized that the election of 2008 provides this country with a far different set of choices than in previous elections.


The two parties today represent two widely separate versions—and visions—of America. One, with Barack Obama at its head, celebrates this country’s diversity and is driven by calls for hope and change.


The other, headed by John McCain, is a party that turns its back on this country’s diversity, sweeps it neatly under the rug, and is fueled by fear, hate and a commitment to the status quo.


One is a party reaching to the future; the other a party mired in the past.


I can only hope and trust that this country will reach for the better angels of its nature come this November. But as I watched the Republicans this week in Minnesota, the prospects of a different outcome grew truly terrifying. Never have the stakes been so high.


This is a sad and somber time, indeed.




This piece was written in memory of Harlem born activist Tony Hill (1945-2007).

Black Star News political columnist and Award-winning filmmaker and journalist Geoffrey Dunn, Ph. D., is the former recipient of a both a John L. Senior Fellowship to the Cornell University Graduate School of Government and a National Newspaper Association Award for Investigative Journalism. His most recent film is Calypso Dreams.




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