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It is about race

A response to 'It's about racism'

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I am glad that the New Times is featuring Al Fonzi’s commentaries. His words give the public a chance to see the rage and the persecution complex of today’s movement conservatives and the false premises on which those two feelings are based.

In his most recent commentary (“It’s not about racism,” Nov. 24), Fonzi declares that “storm troopers” disrupted the otherwise peaceful candidacy of Donald Trump, but it was Trump who willingly brought his devoted followers right to the edge of physical confrontation. The GOP candidate declared quite loudly that he could not respect any outcome of this election that could result in anyone but himself winning. It was not as Fonzi contends, liberals who “lectured” anyone about respecting Hillary’s victory. It was Trump who sought to preemptively undermine any confidence in the vote, and it was Trump who threatened violence if he was not appointed at the GOP convention. 

Here’s Trump on one of his followers who sucker punched a protester at one of his rallies: “I thought it was very, very appropriate. The protester was swinging. He was hitting people. And the audience hit back. And that’s what we need a little bit more of.” But video shows that this person was punched in the face as he was being walked out by security. Trump lied. 

But the idea that Trump is the innocent victim of violent provocateurs who took “a page from Nazi agitators of the 1920s” is not only false but reveals the overheated rhetoric of movement conservatism. In the Fonzi commentary before this one (“Once upon a time Americans ... ?” Nov. 10), the “left” was generalized as the descendants of Soviet communists. This is the effect of too many doses of Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the style of combative rhetoric that is so popular with conservatism now. 

As far as the press and the secret cabal against Trump, Trump benefited from billions of dollars’ worth of free publicity, far more than Bernie or Hillary, by networks that saw his flamboyant style as a money maker. The press may have thought that Trump was not going to win but so did much of America, and the polls did not contradict that impression.

And while Fonzi insinuates in conspiratorial tones that mysterious “voter fraud” turned 4 million votes over to Hillary, actual vote and turnout suppression by the GOP was rampant as soon as the Supreme Court overturned crucial parts of the Voting Rights Act. General Accounting Office studies of Kansas and Tennessee shot that these methods work for the GOP, which is why they pursue them as soon as they gain control of a state government. The careful placement of polling stations in the “right” neighborhoods, the shortening or elimination of early voting, eliminating same-day registration, absurd I.D. requirements on top of the ones required at registration, and so much more are imposed to keep the electorate older and whiter. But what about absentee ballots or mail-in ballots? Those are considered by experts to be the most vulnerable to misuse but are untouched by the GOP because studies show they are a favored form of voting by conservatives. And what is the justification for all this tinkering with the right to vote? It is the statistically non-existent problem of “voter fraud” whereby hordes of illegal immigrants put their names and locations on government forms for no gain whatsoever and only loss. It is time for this charade to stop, and the courts are starting to see that.

Then there is the “Electrical College” (according to Homer Simpson’s understanding anyway), which Fonzi calls “the core of our constitutional system.” He says that without it, there will be violence and it will render a presidency as “illegitimate.” But what is it now? Someone looking at Donald Trump need only say to themselves “but he lost in the popular vote” to realize that Trump has a legitimacy problem now. The Electoral College should be abolished, and Trump himself called it a “disaster for Democracy.” Rural voters are already over-represented in the Senate and House as it is, and not one of the 50 states has an Electoral College.

Now, is Trump racist? The GOP lost black voters when Barry Goldwater stood squarely against the Civil Rights Act and conservatives have placed their hopes since then on harnessing white cultural and racial resentment at election time. Trump removed all subtlety from this decades-old practice and went straight out into the open with Mitch McConnell’s blessings. His stark appeal to racial politics embarrassed even the GOP. The Democrats made the mistake of trying to counter this with an identity politics reversal and forgot about lower middle class anxieties.

Fonzi’s notion is that Trump is going to bring back the coal industry, which according to him was “destroyed” by Obama and government regulations. But this industry that employs one-sixteenth of 1 percent of the population was done in by automation and the success of fracking in creating a large supply of cheaper natural gas. There is no sign that getting rid of coal regulations and regulations in general is going to create an employment boom. Trump knows that he is not going to bring employment back by “calling up industry leaders” to tell them to bring back their factories. It is all a lie. 

Because the campaign was almost exclusively about character assassination, we don’t really know what Trump has in store for us. We do know that what is riding on Trump’s coattails is Paul Ryan and others who hate the spread of health insurance, who prove that they hold party above all else, including their vows to defend the Constitution. They survive by gerrymandering to historic levels and plan to go even further if they win in 2020, a census year when redistricting is possible.

And so today, we await our new president: a man who used racial politics to win, a man who is a fluent and frequent liar, who is openly supported by the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. 

“The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in,” the Imperial Wizard said. 

So Mr Fonzi, in fact, it’s all about race now. 

Walid Persen has come to grips with the election results in Cambria. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter to the editor at letters@newtimesslo.com

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