I came across this D-Nuts bit last night. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it, but what the Hell? This time I thought I’d take a moment to bloggetize a comment or two on the matter. What’s interesting about this piece, you may ask?
We could start with the most obvious game that’s being played here. On one level it is simply a red herring. A claim about the present-day Republican Party has been answered with a series of claims about the history of the GOP and the Democrats, thus substituting a question about what each HAS BEEN for an argument about what each IS today.
Taken at face value, this red herring contains another problem, a seriously convenient omission of historical information, namely the shift in voting patterns over the 20th century culminating in the famous “southern strategy” of Richard Nixon. Simply put, an awful lot of southern conservatives switched parties over the years since the founding of the GOP and of the KKK. It’s tempting to say that a number of them did so precisely because they saw the modern GOP as a better vehicle for their own racist agenda. In any event, the shift has left both parties flip-flopped on civil rights and the proper balance of federal and state authority. There are some other factors besides race at work here to be sure, but a number of GOP leaders have made conscious appeals to racist sentiments over the years and the results have been quite striking.
So, is it fair to say that the GOP is racist?
I could see reasonable arguments against an affirmative answer. Those arguments do not rest on a conveniently incomplete account of history.
Even still, I can’t help thinking the best (worst) part about this cartoon is just how well its content fits with its intended purpose. Here we have Charlie Brown whitesplaining the topic of racism to Franklin, the one black character in Peanuts. Franklin is clueless in comparison to Charlie’s wisdom. The cartoonist has him reacting with a stubborn inarticulate refusal to see Charlie’s point or even to engage the argument in any meaningful way. He just sticks to his position as if incapable of grasping the issues at hand. He is in effect simply playing the so called race card without any substantive reasons for doing so. The GOP isn’t racist, so the cartoon would have us believe, but apparently it takes a white person to understand that.
…a message which would probably come as no surprise to Franklin.