Republicans of color aren’t standing up to racism

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Last week, right-wing commentator Ann Coulter told former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy to his face she would not have voted for him because he’s Indian.

“There is a core national identity that is the identity of the WASP,” Coulter said on Ramaswamy’s “Truth” podcast, using an acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. “And that doesn’t mean we can’t take anyone else in ― a Sri Lankan or a Japanese, or an Indian. But the core around which the nation’s values are formed is the WASP.”

Interestingly, Ramaswamy appeared unfazed by her insulting remarks and declared they shared an opposition to dual citizenship. He further stated, “that a child of immigrants would have greater loyalty to the country than disgruntled seventh-generation WASPs.” Despite such blatant, vulgar racism, Ramaswamy later praised her on social media, writing, “I disagree with her but respect that she had the guts to speak her mind.”

The truth is Ramaswamy is not alone in this regard. There are more than a few conservatives of color who have engaged in the art of self-debasement.

Back in 2021, South Carolina senator Tim Scott claimed with a straight face woke supremacy was as bad as white supremacy. In response, former CNN anchor Don Lemon spoke truth to power, alerting the senator, in no uncertain terms, to the undeniable truth that there is no comparison between the two camps. As the days passed, a few other commentators took Scott to task for his wayward, untoward commentary.

A Black man who hails from humble beginnings, (as he has described his background and upbringing) and the inhabitant of a state that has had an ugly, intensive, brutal and oppressive history of mistreatment of Black people (even by southern state standards), Scott likely knew better than to utter such dishonest foolishness. To add insult to injury, he went to Fox News and tried (unconvincingly) to defend his disingenuous remarks.

More recently, Scott has come under not-so-friendly fire due to his lap dogging for Donald Trump, telling the former president that “he just loves him.”

Scott is a person of color in a party that has declared political war on people of color. Thus, in order to save face and remain in the good graces of his GOP colleagues, Scott has opted to engage in shameful acts of intellectual dishonesty. His vacuous opportunism and misapplied priorities are sad and shameful.

We can’t ignore Nikki Haley, who behaved manner similar to that of Vivek Ramaswamy. The former governor and U.N. ambassador initially tied herself into political pretzels by refusing to denounce the confederate flag or criticize her former boss. She insulted many people when she argued that she disagrees with those who deny that the confederate flag represents racism, yet nonetheless respects their point of view.

Seriously, ambassador Haley? How can you simultaneously be for and against racism? Taking such a position is not that much different from when President Trump referred to white supremacists and anti-racist activists as “very fine people.” The latter group is commendable. The first group is anything but.

Trump went after Haley’s birth name, Nimarata, in yet another example of the former president employing racially-coded dog whistles to attack his presidential rivals. Trump also falsely stating she is ineligible to become president because her parents were not U.S. citizens when she was born in 1972. Haley initially behaved as if nothing was wrong. It was only afterwards, under extreme criticism from never Trumpers and independent Republicans, that she finally took off the gloves and began swinging.

Haley, who commented that her father had to teach at a historically Black college and university because he was unable to secure employment at a white institution of higher learning, continues to espouse the notion that “America was never a racist nation.” She does this even as Trump continues to levy thinly-veiled racist attacks at her.

Throughout history, there have been many others who have embraced groups and movements that stand in direct opposition to their religious or cultural heritage. It is important to note that such individuals exist on the political left as well. Opportunism is a bipartisan enterprise.

Some of this can be chalked up to confusion, self-hatred or other psychological maladies. Regardless, such retrograde antics perpetrated by intensely deluded and disingenuous men and women are a sad commentary, and says a lot more about them as opposed to the people or movements they have decided to fervently attack.

Copyright 2024 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate

Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.