Today's Republicans Suffer From Negrophobia
By: Donald V. Watkins
August 5, 2021
In 1890, former Confederate general and six-term U.S. Senator from Alabama, John T. Morgan, wrote that democratic sovereignty in America was conferred upon "qualified voters" only. Morgan accused black citizens, who were guaranteed the right to vote under the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, of "hatred and ill will toward their former owners." As such, Morgan proclaimed that (a) blacks did not qualify to vote and (b) they were destroying democracy by their mere participation in the electoral process.
According to Morgan and a host of other white supremacists of his era, disenfranchising black voters was not merely justified, but it was an act of self-defence against "Negro domination." For the next 140 years, a tidal wave of racist white politicians in old South Confederate states (and elsewhere) waged an "intensive propaganda of white supremacy, Negrophobia and race chauvinism" to purge blacks from politics forever, thereby shattering emerging alliances between white and black workers, according to acclaimed historian C. Vann Woodward and noted journalist and author Adam Serwer.
"This [campaign of disenfranchisement] was ruthless opportunism, but it also forged a community defined by the color line and destroyed one that might have transcended it," wrote Serwer in a New York Times article on June 27, 2021.
Today, the Republican Party is the proud standard-bearer for the disenfranchisement of Americans of color. It is the new and reinvigorated "White Citizens Council."
Alabama is a "Hotbed" of Negrophobia
Alabama is and always has been the "hotbed" of Negrophobia. Whites in Alabama have exhibited acute Negrophobia on an unabated basis since this southern territory was formed into a state and admitted into the Union of United States. Whites in the state have also been faithful to General Morgan's racist views of "qualified voters." Alabama, which has a 26.8% black population, has compiled a long, ugly, and documented record of disenfranchising black voters and massive resistance to equal justice for its black citizens.
Today, Alabama's nine-member Supreme Court is all-white, its five-member Court of Criminal Appeals is all-white, and its Court of Civil Appeals is all-white. These appellate courts have been all-white for more than two decades. They serve as the Republican Party's national symbol of what white voting power can achieve in the modern-era.
Sadly, the U.S. Department of Justice has not sought to dismantle the all-white status of Alabama's appellate courts because the black vote in Alabama was not sought, wanted, or needed when Republicans occupied the White House and it was traditionally taken for granted by all Democratic presidents since 1960. The Biden administration has only given "lip-service" to the enforcement of voting rights in Alabama because the state has no strategic value to the National Democratic Party.
Other deep South states with 20% or greater black and brown populations such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Texas, and Arkansas have also locked voters of color out of the political process with election laws that are designed to insulate Republican power from a diverse American majority of voters that Republicans fear no longer supports them.
Racism Fuels the Republican Party's Disenfranchisement Agenda
Republicans fuel their political agenda of disenfranchisement by demonizing people of color. For example, Fox News commentators regularly warn their audiences that Democrats want to "replace the current electorate" with "more obedient voters from the third world." The National Review's conservative columnists justify the disenfranchisement of blacks and other people of color on the grounds that "it would be far better if the franchise were not exercised by ignorant, civics-illiterate people."
These are not political comments from General Morgan's 1890 white supremacy era; these are the voices of today's Republican Party. And, this messaging is resonating with the Party's core base of white voters.
Donald Trump showed Republicans how much they could get away with, from shattering migrant families and banning Muslim travelers to valorising war crimes and denigrating African, Latino, and Caribbean immigrants as being from "shithole countries." As is often the case with most populist race-baiting politicians, Trump loyalists responded with zeal, even in the aftermath of his 2020 election loss. Waving Confederate flags and shouting "niggers" at black police officers as they attacked the Capitol during their January 6, 2021 violent insurrection to block the certification of Joe Biden as president, these zealots viewed themselves as Trump "patriots" who were saving America.
Republican members of Congress from Alabama, Texas, and other old Confederate states aided and abetted the attackers and defended their insurrection after it ended. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who encouraged the mob that attacked the Capitol with his claims that the 2020 election had been "stolen," falsely claims that the new voting rights protection legislation Republicans are blocking in Congress today will "register millions of illegal aliens to vote" and describes them as "Jim Crow 2.0."
The Republican Party has openly displayed its willingness to (a) denigrate black police officers, (b) abandon popular support for all Capitol police officers who defended the Capitol from a violent white mob on January 6th, and (c) demonize religious and ethnic minorities and migrants of color. Unfortunately, this is a throwback to the John T. Morgan racism of the 1800s and Alabama Governor George C. Wallace's racism of the 1950s and 1960s.
Trump's 2017 to 2021 brand of racism has been an effective tool for crushing Democratic initiatives in Washington designed to promote black and brown access to voting and social justice for all Americans. Likewise, this brand of Republicanism cultivates a nationwide cult of white voters who see Americans of color as a threat to their way of life.
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