Thursday, February 19, 2009

To RNC's Steele: I Don't Want to Get Jiggy With You

I know it's the Christian way to forgive, but I'm having a real problem forgiving Republicans and forgetting their history. So, I chuckled upon seeing the CNN article saying the Republican National Committee's first black chair, Michael Steele, is telling his Republican brethren critics to "stuff it" and us that he's taking the party Hip Hop. And the picture, well, really ... side splitting laughter:
(CNN) — Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

The new GOP leader told the Washington Times that the party’s defeat in states such as North Carolina and Virginia made it clear they needed a new approach.

“We need messengers to really capture that region — young, Hispanic, black, a cross section…” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

He added, jokingly, that “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.” (CNN)
So, he's standing up to fellow Republicans who want him to hire a deputy. Is he buying his own press clippings that he's the "man of steel"? Or maybe since he's got this "off the hook" PR campaign planned to woo groups Republicans formerly called "those people," he's spinning himself as black rebel with a cause and not Negro window dressing.

If you're picking up that I've got trust issues with the GOP and attempts to hoodwink people of color via Steele, then you're right, and I said so when the RNC announced Steele as chair. To me it's more smoke and mirrors and slap-in-the-face tokenism tactics like McCain choosing Sarah Palin to be his running mate hoping to attract Hillary voters (without the implication that Steele is unqualified for his job, however).

I'm old enough to remember more than just the last presidential election, which was probably enough insult from Republicans on its own to last for a while, but they've served insults for a much longer time.

Republicans used to be progressive, maybe, in the days of Lincoln, and branded themselves as the Party of Lincoln for a while as he was the nation's first Republican president. I don't have to go into Lincoln's bio since America just celebrated his 200th birthday and he was everywhere.

Sometimes Republicans have tried to appeal to African-Americans, reminding us that Lincoln "freed the slaves" or was "the great emancipator," a topic of considerable debate. However, even if we do credit Lincoln and fellow Republicans of the 1800s with freeing anybody, then we could also argue that their underlying push for stopping slavery had to do with a financial agenda, not genuine concern for anything other than their wallets. The south was whipping the north's butt with free black labor.

Like most white men of his generation, Lincoln had personal prejudices about the place of blacks that were influenced by his times and by only seeing blacks in servile positions. So, if you check, you'll find that he was not convinced blacks were equal to whites. However, who knows, since he believed democracy could not succeed unless it addressed social injustice, perhaps had he lived longer he would have changed his mind. I can make excuses for Lincoln. The GOP is another story.

Today's Republican is not progressive but conservative, obsessed with maintaining the good old days of inequalities at the expense of the poor and minorities. I'm not sure today's Republican would like a modern Lincoln nor am I convinced a modern Lincoln would like them.

Another fact black Republicans in particular like to blast is "Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Republican." Many black leaders of his era, who thought of the GOP as the Party of Lincoln, were Republicans. The question is how long would King have stayed a Republican had he lived considering he was moving his attention to economic justice?

Furthermore, King was also a Republican because the South was overrun with white Dixiecrats (proud white men who fled the Democratic party and pushed state rights to stop integration). Losing that battle, Dixiecrats fled to the Republican Party where they were coddled, comforted, and embraced, despising how Democrats worked with the Negroes. And now, after aiding and abetting Jessie Helms, Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott and other proud sons of the segregated south, after using racist tactics to divide and conquer southern districts and coded language to woo blue collar northern whites, after unleashing Palin the pit bull on this nation with her folksy speak pushing Obama as the black other, Republicans want to be inclusive.

If you've gleefully snubbed me but now hug me because there's a gun at your back, in this case pressure from the electorate and visions of nails in your coffin, then is it odd that I cringe suspecting you'll knife me in the back?

I'm not saying that the Democratic Party has been perfect. Certainly white progressives can be condescending, paternalistic, and yes, racist as individuals. However, what their failings are as individuals have been corporate badges for conservative Republicans.

What I'm saying is don't come to me after you've applauded your conservative mouthpieces like Fox News when they've claimed Colin Powell likes Hip Hop now and so will naturally vote for Obama because they're both black or have looked the other way while pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, known Republican sympathizers, smile and spout racist propaganda almost daily. Don't come to me and tell me you want to go Hip Hop too, get jiggy with it, be "off the hook" or feign any other language you normally don't speak after at your convention you laughed at a community organizer whose been with it all along.

Republicans have beaten this country with the ugly stick of racist rhetoric for a century. If all they've got are words of reconciliation without the policies that perfect healing then let them wait another century before we cut them any slack.


Anonymous said...

Hey Verite.

You nailed it on this one for sure. If there hadn't been an Obama there would not have been a Steele, and now they think they can fool us that easy? Does this fool really think that the hip hop disguise will cover over all the things this party has done and stood for all these years?

Get serious.

msladyDeborah said...

The whole idea is frightening isn't it!

You did an excellent analysis on the GOP and Steele Verite.

Only time will tell if Steele can get in where he fits in with the Hip Hop and GenX/Y folks. I believe that he doesn't have a clue about the essence of either group.

SjP said...

Steele has just lost his mind if he thinks he will get any significant support from the Hip Hoppers. He's nuts!

msladyDeborah said...


I linked to this post from my blog. I thought you did an excellent analysis on your post.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Followed your link on your current M. Steele post to this one. This post is not only terrific, but timeless.