The Washington Post Helps The Right’s Racist Crusade
There Aren't Two Sides To Reality
America was racist from the beginning. This isn’t an open question or something that is a product of a leftist/liberal world view. It is an absolute truth on the same level as the observation that gravity exists or that the planets orbit the sun. It just is.
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Yet the Washington Post chose to frame Nikki Haley’s absurdist argument that America was not a racist country with the headline, “Haley sparks a 2024 debate: Whether the U.S. is (or ever was) a racist country.” The story, written by Mariana Alfaro and Maegan Vazquez, opens with what feels like a parody of the mainstream media’s culture of “both sides” journalism:
With one answer in a TV interview, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley again ignited a campaign trail debate about racism and its role in America, putting the precarious politics of race front and center as the GOP nominating contests get underway.
You see, folks, on one side the GOP candidate says racism isn’t connected to American history. On the other side, those dastardly liberals and Democrats contend that our founding is rooted in racism. In Washington Post language, these are allegations with equal historical and moral weight.
The first colonial settlers of America killed and displaced Native Americans, who they derided as inferior “savages.” They followed this up with going all-in for the transatlantic slave trade, stealing Black people from Africa and selling them as property for hundreds of years. The white majority of America similarly treated Asian people as subhuman monsters, Latino people as unintelligent manual labor, and on and on and on. Racism is America’s original sin. This isn’t up for debate. At all.
The conservative movement’s voting base has always been rooted in American racism. From the southern Democrats who opposed equal rights and launched a Civil War, to the people who cheered on Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act and Ronald Reagan’s tall tales of welfare queens to the Donald Trump fans who hooted and hollered his birther lies about President Barack Obama.
As part of this campaign, the right has been trying desperately to rewrite history. They deny the existence of systemic racism, even as history shows bigoted practices like red lines and discrimination against Black women by the medical profession. On the rare occasion that the right admits racism has existed in America, they embrace a fairy tale version of events, where Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the March on Washington simply Ended All Racism, ignoring the bulk of his speech where he connected racism to the founding. They also ignore that one of the reasons we have a national day of remembrance for Dr. King is because there was so much racism in America that they shot him dead because he said Black people deserve equality.
The Washington Post changed its slogan to “Democracy Dies in Darkness” to much hullabaloo a few years ago. But since then, the paper has not really changed its institutional world view that spread lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and furthered false narratives about Hillary Clinton while turning a blind eye to Trump’s toxic racism and misogyny. This story is just another iteration of one of the leading sources of American journalism using its platform to reduce a fundamental truth of American history into a partisan side in a “debate.”
The practice is foul and destabilizing, it gives aid and comfort to the same kind of mindset that denies the reality of the Jewish holocaust. American racism fueled the mass slaughter of Black people, both in the horror of the Middle Passage but leading right up to Black lives snuffed out to gun violence and police brutality today. By presenting American racism as up for “debate,” the Post furthers the mission of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, which is currently being led by Trump as he is hurling racist attacks at Haley.
This is unacceptable and its further proof that despite everything we have seen over the last twenty-plus years – the Iraq War, the Great Recession, COVID-19 and beyond – the mainstream press has learned nothing. They do not think they got anything wrong and if anything, they collectively believe they should do even more harm to our already fragile democracy.
We are long past the point where it is possible to look at these incidents and categorize them as unfortunate misfires from organizations truly interested in bringing light to democracy. If you’re even hinting that the history of American racism is up for a “debate,” you’ve chosen a side.
The right and the Post are in the corner of the torturers and oppressors. There’s no other way to see this.
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