While discussing Rick Santorum's "Blah" remarks, Chez and I talked about the Southern Strategy on the podcast this week, with a refresher on some post-Reconstruction racial history. White demonization of blacks in the modern sense rose out of a need to provide North and South with a common enemy, thus uniting the formerly warring factions of the country.
The Republican Southern Strategy was grown out of this awfulness. Demonize black people for the purposes of achieving white fear and subsequent unity around a common cause. Today, it's about voting Republican.
Coincidentally, Charles Blow wrote about the same thing yesterday.
In 1935, W.E.B. DuBois’s “Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880” pointed out that one of the major themes that American children were being taught in textbooks about that period was that “all Negroes were lazy, dishonest and extravagant.”
The themes are eerily resonant of today’s Republican talking points on welfare.
One textbook theme excerpted by Mr. DuBois stated that “legislatures were often at the mercy of Negroes, childishly ignorant, who sold their votes openly, and whose ‘loyalty’ was gained by allowing them to eat, drink and clothe themselves at the state’s expense.”
Another stated that “assistance led many freed men to believe that they need no longer work.”
Silent films of the post-Reconstruction, turn of the century era were polluted with similar ideas. The myth of the lazy, shiftless, raping black man was a common theme -- culminating, though not ending, with the infamous Birth of a Nation film. This mindset has become entrenched in American culture and survives today, thanks, in part, to the Republican Party's continued exploitation of white resentment, ignorance and hatred.