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Republicans and Race | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Republicans and Race

One of the few appeals of compassionate conservatism was the hope that it might mark the end of the Republican's race-baiting Southern strategy. Anyone who still believes that hasn't been listening to the Kings of Republican Comedy.

While riffing on the new Survivor series that will divide the teams by ethnic group, Rush Limbaugh trotted out every hoary racial stereotype he could think of. Hispanics "will do what others won't do"; Asians will "outsmart everyone"; and African-Americans will do poorly in swimming.

At a campaign event, Senator Conrad Burns thought it was amusing to joke about the legal status of "the nice little Guatemalan man" who is roofing his house in Virginia. And speaking of Virginia, George Allen has spent the last couple of weeks trying to dig himself out of a huge pile of macaca--a North African racial slur.

But almost as offensive as the word macaca was the way Allen ended his put down of the twenty-year-old S.R. Sidarth: "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Sidarth is a native Virginian, while Allen grew up in southern California. Allen's countrified, tobacco-chewing, Confederate-flag waving persona is the Southern strategy as political self-invention.

One funny thing did result from Allen's routine: The collapse of his presidential hopes. It is proof that the last thing the country wants is another mean-spirited good-ole-boy who likes to dress up as a cowboy.

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