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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dishonest history, dishonest conclusions

Looking at the claims by local radical right-winger on the roots of racism
By Will Collette

Related image
Democratic President Lyndon Johnson shakes Dr. Martin Luther King's
hand right after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act in law in 1964, a law
Republicans have been trying to undo ever since.
A version of this letter was published by the Westerly Sun

Phil Gingerella’s August 30 [Sun letter to the editor] defense of radical Republicans and by extension, Donald Trump against charges of racism is stunning display of historical cherry-picking.

According to Gingerella, Democrats have no right to call out Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts for racist policies, hiring racists and neo-Nazis and embracing the KKK and neo-Nazis.

Gingerella says Democrats in 2017 are tainted because 150 years ago, the instigators of the Civil War were Democrats. 100 years ago, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson supported segregation. 50 years ago, southern Democrats were the Civil Rights Movement’s major opponents and fought against school desegregation, voting rights and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 even though Democrats in the rest of the country championed those causes.

Gingerella’s recount of history a germ of truth, but leaves out an essential detail.

After Democratic President Lyndon Johnson pushed through civil rights legislation that Republican President Richard Nixon later exploited through his winning “Southern Strategy,” those racist Democrats switched en masse to the Republican Party.

All that racist history cited by Gingerella against Democrats is now the legacy of today’s Republican Party.


Rather than acknowledge how the political parties switched places on race more than 50 years ago, Gingerella shifts to fringe-right memes that claim Democrats enslaved people of color by binding them up in the social safety net that Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress seem so eager to destroy.

According to Gingerella, Democratic racism manifests itself as Social Security, Medicare, affordable health care and housing, public education, job-training and the rest of the social safety net that began with Roosevelt’s New Deal program.

Democrats created all these programs, to quote Gingerella because They weren’t about to lose control over African Americans. So they instituted forms of institutional slavery.”

This theory dovetails into another fringe-right claim that Republican efforts to destroy public education and affordable health care, slash Social Security, privatize Medicare, eliminate environmental protection and the right to vote are really all about “freedom.”

Gingerella also conveniently ignores the fact that whites comprise the majority of people who benefit from those programs that are supposedly designed by Democrats to enslave African-Americans.

He also sidesteps a fundamental problem in his thesis: how does anyone’s past racist conduct justify racist conduct today?

Phil Gingerella’s “logic” reminds me of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984 where the mantra of dictators is “War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength.”