Friday, January 2, 2015

James Cone: "White Supremacy Is As Present in New York City As It Is in Jackson, Mississippi" — Steve Scalise and the Racism of White U.S. Catholics

There's a valuable compilation of videos discussing racism in America at the Moyers & Company website right now. The site collects four video discussiosn Bill Moyers has conducted from 2007 to this past summer with leading African-American commentators including theologian James Cone, legal scholar Michelle Alexander, historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.

The clip at the head of the posting is Moyers's 2007 interview with James Cone, who tells him,

[W]hite supremacy is as present in New York City as it is in Jackson, Mississippi. That's the truth. And when America can see itself as one — not just the South did the lynching, but it is a part of American culture — then we can start to overcome that. You can't overcome something if you never acknowledge its presence.

As Luke Hill writes today for Commonweal, re: the discovery that a new leading light of the Republican party, Congressman Steve Scalise, a Catholic, spoke at a white supremacist gathering in 2002,

The entire episode is a reminder of how deeply embedded racism in in American society and in the American Catholic Church.  Given that the same Republican party that forced Sen. Trent Lott to resign his leadership post in 2002 for his praise of Sen. Thurmond has now chosen to, in effect, ignore Rep. Scalise's actions that same year, it would seem that the work of "undoing racism" has a long way to go.

As Steve Benen has noted, House majority leader John Boehner, also a Catholic, has absolved Scalise of his sin of consorting with the notorious white supremacist David Duke and his racist collaborators. Benen writes,

To date, the grand total of congressional Republicans [i.e., GOP leaders] publicly criticizing Scalise for attending the white-supremacist gathering is … zero.

And so, as John Nichols concludes, Scalise now becomes a serious problem embedded right in the heart of the national Republican party, spectacularly undercutting the claim of that party that it wants to mend bridges with minority communities:

It will be hard for Republicans to suggest that they are on the side of the future when, at this point in American history, they have someone in a top leadership position in the House facing questions about his appearance at a white-supremacist event and who opposed the King holiday. 

The Republican party for which, I remind you, 60% of white Catholics just voted in the fall elections . . . . 

If you're so inclined, you may wish to sign this petition to John Boehner at the Credo Action site, calling on him to remove Scalise at House majority whip. I've signed it.

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