Last week I wrote that Representative Frank Lasee's letter alleging rampant hallway sex among Brown Deer's black students "...is the ugly tip of a racist Republican iceberg that demonizes the city of Milwaukee and its minority residents."
Yesterday, New York Times Columnist, Bob Herbert, made the same argument in his column about the national Republican Party.
The Journal Sentinel ran an edited version of that column today, but, unfortunately, cut its most damning material.
Here's what the Journal Sentinel published with deletions in italics. (I have included non-deleted material so that readers can read the edits in their original context.):
Dr. Carolyn Goodman, a woman I was privileged to call a friend, died last month at the age of 91. She was the mother of Andrew Goodman, one of the three young civil rights activists shot to death by rabid racists near Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964.
Dr. Goodman, one of the most decent people I have ever known, carried the ache of that loss with her every day of her life.
In one of the vilest moves in modern presidential politics, Ronald Reagan, the ultimate hero of this latter-day Republican Party, went out of his way to kick off his general election campaign in 1980 in that very same Philadelphia, Miss. He was not there to send the message that he stood solidly for the values of Andrew Goodman. He was there to assure the bigots that he was with them.
“I believe in states’ rights,” said Mr. Reagan. The crowd roared.
In 1981, during the first year of Mr. Reagan’s presidency, the late Lee Atwater gave an interview to a political science professor at Case Western Reserve University, explaining the evolution of the Southern strategy:
“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”
It is unfortunate the Journal editors cut this material from Herbert's piece because Wisconsin's Republican leadership has followed this script to a T.
Frank Lasee's letter is a clumsy and transparent application of this approach.
The Assembly Republicans budget that sticks "it to Milwaukee" and Racine by slashing their shared revenue continues this GOP tradition as does their insistence on voter IDs which would disenfranchise poor, black and minority voters.
The dairy state's Republican leadership, by hiding their refusal to negotiate with their Democratic counterparts in the Budget Conference Committee behind a fanatical no tax pledge, are implementing the very southern strategy that Atwater so vividly described.