The "Republicans" Are Trying to End Racism
And they just might succeed
Dr. G.S. Potter | Senior Editor
We should start getting used to calling “Republicans” Confederates. Remember what happened 160 years ago? Yeah, well, 160 years later there are people parading as Republicans who are really modern Confederates who have family trees that never got over it. As that’s happening, we’ll need to recognize that one of the most dangerous and underhanded strategies that the Confederate Party has launched against this nation is its plot to eliminate racism.
Oh: This doesn’t mean they want to eliminate racism in practice. They are, after all, a twisted rat’s nest of Confederate flag-wielding, native land colonizing, Black body lynching, Brown family separating, Muslim banning white nationalists, neo-Confederates, Proud Boys, and Qanongresspeople. The practice of racism is still at the top of their political and economic agendas. Instead, what they’re trying to do is eliminate racism in conversation, acknowledgment and theory. If it wasn’t so nefarious, it would be strategically genius.
One of the cornerstones of the attack on America that is being put into action by the “GQP” is the elimination of truth. They want to undo science, facts, reason, and the idea that anything can be known at all. And if you look at the number of people that refuse to wear masks, won’t get a vaccine, think the election was stolen, and believe the insurgency on Capitol Hill was just a Black Lives Matter protest, you can see how successful they’ve been so far.
From the outside it might look like this intellectual unraveling is little more than the chaotic froth produced by the Trump campaign and its administration’s profusion of disinformation. But it actually is a very intentional and strategically fatal attack on the structural defenses that Americans have against white nationalism. Specifically, the white supremacists are targeting our collective ability to successfully dismantle the foundations that allow us to defend ourselves against white supremacists in our elections, in the courts, and through the production of knowledge.
Even more specifically, Critical Race Theory is being attacked in efforts to remove researchers’ abilities to study racism and produce work that acknowledges its role in areas like history (see the 1619 Project), education, and other social sciences. The Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment are being attacked simultaneously in efforts to redefine the way racism is interpreted by the courts in such a way that it ceases to exist. And both-sides-ism is being used to obliterate our ability to defend ourselves in the political discourse.
Defending Critical Race Theory (or Truth)
Critical Race Theory has been poorly defined by researchers in the field itself and by journalists seeking to cover the attacks against it. For example, in The National Review, Christopher Caldwell describes Critical Race Theory as
…a varied set of perspectives on a varied set of issues. But there is one thing that seems to run through all of it: non-neutrality.
The Washington Post describes CRT as …
… an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic, and not just demonstrated by individual people with prejudices. The theory holds that racial inequality is woven into legal systems and negatively affects people of color in their schools, doctors’ offices, the criminal justice system and countless other parts of life.
Education Week describes claims that CRT is …
… a concept that racism is a social construct embedded in policies and legal systems, and which goes beyond individuals’ prejudices.
None of these definitions are very good. They aren’t very accurate, either. But it’s not about what Critical Race Theory means – it’s about what it does.
In formal academic research, unlike casual conversation, it is not enough to make a claim. Unlike in journalism, it is not enough to make a claim - even if you have evidence to back it up. In formal research, you not only have to back your claims in research, and have evidence to back it up, but you have to attach your claim to an existing field of research and a specific theory within that field. Enter Critical Race Theory.
Critical Race Theory allows research to make the claim that racism exists and to produce research and describe data in ways that validate that claim. Without it, in most fields of research, racism would cease to exist. That’s why the white supremacists want to undo it. If you eliminate Critical Race Theory, you eliminate the existence of racism in research. A similar effort is underway in the field of law.
The Voting Rights Act and the Fifteenth Amendment (or Justice)
The nation is still awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee. On the surface, this case is about this: whether or not it is discriminatory to prevent a third party from helping to collect ballots or eliminating ballots that are outside of their precinct. Non-White voters are more likely than White voters to use third parties to submit ballots, especially in areas where ballot boxes are few and far between. They are also more likely to vote out of precinct because of changes in address, changes in polling locations, and an inability or outright refusal to properly notify voters in certain areas of changes in polling locations. At the core of this case, though, is a battle for the definition of discrimination and the existence of racism itself.
Legally, the definition of discrimination hasn’t been settled yet. In some areas of law, like police misconduct, discrimination is defined by a standard of intent versus a standard of impact. That means that you have to prove that an action or a policy was created with the purpose of discrimination instead of showing that an act or policy results in a discriminatory outcome.
In a recent piece for The BE Note, I argue ….
At the heart of any discrimination case is the battle between intent and outcome. It is very difficult to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that an any act or policy was committed or created with the intent to be racist. The murderers of Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, and countless other victims of police brutality were allowed to go legally unpunished because of an inability to prove intent.
The legal cases that solidified the need to prove intent, in instances of police brutality, structurally ensure that there is practically no ability to prove that the disproportionate use of lethal force on unarmed Black men is racist in court. The inability to prove intent functions as a legal free pass for racist cops and precincts to kill people of color indiscriminately and without punishment.
The Brnovich case is not only attempting to solidify intent as the standard for proving discrimination in the case of voting rights, but it is attempting to create a legal precedent by which an intent-based standard for discrimination – not an outcomes-based standard – could be applied in all other fields of law.
If the white supremacists have their way in the Brnovich case, they will have all but destroyed the ability to win a discrimination case launched to counter voter suppression laws. But they won’t stop with the Voting Rights Act and the Fifteenth Amendment. Their next stop will be the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. If they win, there will practically be no area of law where non-White folks will be able to defend themselves against discrimination in the courts. (You can read more about that here.)
Social Media (Democracy)
While we are waiting to see if the attack on the existence of racism in law and research, we have already seen the effects of the elimination of racism on electoral politics. In another piece published by The BE Note, I describe how the “Big Lie” is not just a hyped-up delusion promoted by the white supremacist party and carried on by the majority of their Trump obsessed voters, but it is actually an example of a military deception strategy called a ruse.
The Army describes a ruse as …
An action designed to deceive the adversary, usually involving the deliberate exposure of false information to the adversary’s intelligence collection system (JP 3-13.4).
According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon, half of the tweets that spread disinformation about COVID come from bots. Scientific American reports that one-quarter of climate related disinformation was spread by bots. In the 2016 election, bots were responsible for 31 percent of disinformation posts and in the 2020 election, bots dominated the discourse surrounding specific items such as Qanon conspiracy theories, COVID, and Black Lives Matter.
Social media is the perfect strategic theater to deploy a ruse. We can’t unsee the murder of George Floyd. There is no hiding the overflowing hospitals and morgues overcome with victims of COVID. We can’t undo the reality that Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election. And so in order to deceive their base and diffuse their opponents, white nationalists have deliberately flooded the population with false information. They have done so to such a degree that the false discourse seems to have as many, if not more, participants than the factual discourse.
In this way, both-sides-ism becomes a “valid” argument. The existence of racism is eliminated from the political narrative at least to the extent that the white nationalists were able to take the White House in 2016, kill over half a million people with COVID, justify the attacks on Black Lives Matter, rationalize the January 6 Insurgency, and potentially take both House and Senate back in 2022. With the help of the countless voter suppression laws that we won’t be able to fight in court (see the previous section), of course. That will position them to take the White House back in 2024.
This is how Republicans, the white supremacists, are trying to eliminate racism. They are trying to eliminate the ability to counter their efforts by deploying a multi-pronged strategy to remove the most powerful weapons non-White people and their allies can use against them: truth, justice, and Democracy. They are eliminating the power that researchers have to identify and counter racism by attempting to destroy Critical Race Theory. They are eliminating the power that non-White people have to counter racism through the courts and at the polls by targeting the 14th Amendment, the 15th Amendment, and the Voting Rights Act. And they are eliminating the power that non-White people have to validate and counter racism in the political discourse that drives national electoral politics, policies, and elections by removing racism from social media.
If we allow the white supremacists to remove the existence of racism from the very infrastructure of truth, justice, and Democracy in the United States there will be nothing left to defend ourselves from their wildest and most racist fantasies. Unrestrained white supremacy will take hold. We might not see the day where we can take it back. We have to become more intentional, strategic, and relentless in our efforts to stop them.