The words “racist,” “bigot,” and “sexist” have lost their meaning today. They are epithets tossed about in public discourse whenever someone is losing in argument. “Racist” means “anyone who opposes the Mueller investigation.” “Bigot” means “anyone who thinks social security is a Ponzi scheme.” And “sexist” means “anyone who thinks climate science isn’t on the up and up.”
Race in political discourse has become a cudgel. But as a talking point, it is a façade. People use race when it’s convenient for their political goals. How else do you explain racially enlightened liberals voting overwhelming for an old white lady instead of voting for a young black man? Because race is actually irrelevant to them.
So if we can establish that the label of “racist” is not always thrown around accurately, what do we make of this article from Axios? According to an online survey, 61% of Democrats say that the GOP is racist, sexist, or bigoted.
I’m dismissing the “bigoted” label since it’s an ephemeral term that means whatever someone wants it to mean. I’m dismissing the “sexist” label because we can all figure out that it’s a result of thinking that a woman shouldn’t be able to commit fetal homicide. So let’s focus on the “racist” label.
Sociologically, racism or lack thereof can be discussed in four categories:
1: Prejudiced Discriminators
2: Prejudiced Non-Discriminators
3: Unprejudiced Discriminators
4: Unprejudiced Non-Discriminators
When we understand that each categorization requires intent and action in order to be labeled accurately, we see that the charge of racism is not as easy to make, as 61% of Democrats seem to think.
We can rule out intent for a good number of Republicans because many are Christians. USA Today says that about 75% of Republicans are white Christians. Now I know you might say that the following is reductionistic, but the presence of some racists does not dictate that Christianity is racist. Christians are permitted to command fellow believers to behave as they ought. The fact that racism is contrary to Christian doctrine is sufficient to make this assessment since the problem should be self correcting.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul says that there is neither Jew nor gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, all are one in Christ. And while some Christians in the past used twisted scripture to justify slavery, Christians were also the ones fighting for abolition. Race as a construct has more to do with Social Darwinism than it does with the religion that says all of us are descended from Noah. The book of Philemon is both a proof text as to why slavery as it existed in America could not be supported by scripture, and for the idea that it is incumbent upon Christians to persuade fellow believers, and if need be, command them to act as they ought i.e. making no racial distinctions in the body of Christ.
Abraham Lincoln said that “every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.” The party of Lincoln is the Republican Party. There was no party switch. There was no Southern Strategy. A detailed analysis of elections from now back to 1928 shows the idea of a party switch has more to do with the Dixiecrats dying out than with Nixon supposedly appealing to racists. As they died out, the south also became more evangelical.
Now that we’ve discussed the generic intent of the individuals who make up the Republican party, we can then examine why Democrats may perceive racism.
(Disclaimer: Of course, there are racists who claim to be Christians. I don’t attempt to explain why certain people hold views contrary to scripture or hold political views contrary to their beliefs. They have to be rebuked or be placed under church discipline. Example: Why did the founder of Westboro Baptist Church run for political office a half dozen times as a democrat when the democratic party openly embraced gay marriage? Things don’t always make sense).
My guess is that Democrats don’t think that Republicans are literally racists, especially when we consider that it needs intent and action. Rather, as Ben Shapiro has pointed out, “discrimination” or “racism” is simply disagreement over policy.
Racism today, in the lazy political sense as described by the survey in the Axios article, can be several things:
1: Extreme vetting for refugees (racist against Muslims…wait, Islam isn’t a race).
2: Building a wall (racist against Mexicans…wait, Mexican isn’t a race).
3: opposition to illegal immigration (racist against illegal aliens…wait, illegal alien isn’t a race).
4: cutting entitlements (racist against blacks…wait, more whites are covered by entitlements).
5: opposition to affirmative action (racist against blacks…wait, the children of foreigners get to piggyback off of the legacy of Jim Crow and slavery as if THEY are black?).
6: opposition to abortion (racist against blacks…wait, we are trying to save black babies).
The other responses in the survey included labels like “spiteful” or “evil.” Heck, Democrats could have just overwhelming responded by saying that Republicans are heartless. At least that way, it’s a patently subjective term that is going to need unpacking. You can make the case that the GOP is heartless without flaunting the same kind of constraints found around the term “racist.” You don’t get to call everyone a racist because you disagree with them. Yet that is what they have done. The media injects racism into everything Trump does. They inject it into every policy question. Why? Because America has a sordid history of actual racism (perpetrated by official policy of the Democratic Party) and the very word conveys and requires the strongest aversion. We rightly abhor racism. But jumping straight to the most abhorrent adjective or noun does no favors in the grand scheme of political discourse. This is why I don’t call every liberal a raging communist, Stalin apologist, or gulag enthusiast. Because they aren't. And the GOP isn't racist.