Is there a “war on whites?” Are immigrants bringing in the Ebola virus? And exactly how surprising is it that a longtime resident in the U.S. speaks English well? These are the questions popping up over the last two weeks, as the Republican party proves over and over again that race relations just aren’t their strong suit.
1) Slang? Or Slur? One Texas state lawmaker is trying to justify his use of the word “coonass” in a legislative session, saying the word was just a slang reference regarding trying to teach the Cajun population of Louisiana when they relocated to Texas after Hurricane Katrina.
“State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, an Angleton Republican and House Speaker Pro Tempore, used the term ‘coonass’ in a Select Committee on the Fiscal Impact of Border Support Operations discussion about the challenges of educating the flood of unaccompanied children from Central America illegally crossing the border,” writes the Texas Tribune, adding that, “…Cajuns themselves are somewhat split on how offensive the term “coonass” is, but many find it inappropriate.”
Louisiana residents were less than amused. “We respectfully request that you refrain from engaging in the use and promotion of this slang. To continue to do so would be a violation of applicable federal and state laws and a personal affront to many people of Louisiana,” Warren A. Perrin, a board member on the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, wrote in a letter to Bonnen, according to MySanantonio.com. “If you do not agree to cease in the promotion of the pejorative, it may be necessary for us to take legal action which may include filing a claim with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.”
2) Don‘t they have Ebola? With the growing concerns over the Ebola crisis spreading across the globe, it’s not surprising that everyone is a little skittish about the disease, especially considering its fatality rate. Now even more GOPers, are using it as the latest talking point to try to turn Americans against the refugees entering the country to escape violence in their homeland. “We sent a letter to the president saying look, first of all, we’ve have got to know, not from the press, we’ve got to know ahead of time so we can plan for this,” Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) told radio show listeners, according to Huffington Post. “We did that, Dr. Buschon was helpful… He said, look, we need to know just from a public-health standpoint, with ebola circulating and everything else — no, that’s my addition to it, not necessarily his — but he said we need to know the condition of these kids as well.”
Rokita is just capitalizing on the same panic that Rep. Phil Gingrey and other anti-immigrant conservatives have stirred about immigrant children and illness. This despite the fact that the only cases of Ebola identified so far in the country are from two white Christian missionaries who contracted it during their work, and documentation showing that the countries people are immigrating from actually have higher immunization rates than the U.S.
3) You sure speak good English! Iowa Republican Steve King has never been a fan of immigration reform, even threatening to impeach President Barack Obama over it. But his obvious discomfort with the issue came to the forefront in a recent video when a young DREAMer — an undocumented young woman being allowed to stay in the country with an education deferment — approached him and Sen. Rand Paul (R – K.Y.) and asked him if he wanted to tear up her papers and kick her out of the country. “You’re very good at English, you know what I’m saying,” King responds, to which she answered, “I was raised in the United States.”
Still, King fared slightly better than Paul, who ran away from the table in mid-bite once he understood what the young woman was doing to his companion.
4) There‘s a war on whites! It’s not surprising that all of the examples above have one thing in common: the Republican Party’s fear of and inability to deal with the idea of immigrants entering the country and eventually becoming Americans. Democrats, allegedly, are allowing that to happen in order to further their own political ambitions, according to Alabama Congressman and Republican Mo Brooks, who calls it a “war on whites,” in which everyone is ganging up to dilute the power of the Republican office holder. “This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else,” he said during a recent radio show. “It’s part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things. Well that’s not true.”
If Brooks is trying to figure out who is causing a racial division in the United States, he might want to stop looking so hard at the Democrats and pay a little more attention to his own party allies.
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