Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wonders never cease, "Washington Post" Op-Ed argues that Democrats in the South should take a public stand against the Confederate flag

I was just astounded that the Washington Post ran this Op-Ed by Drew Westen at Emory University in Georgia arguing that the Democrats should take a public stand against the Confederate flag. Mudcat Sanders must be having a fit.

Writing about the Republican campaign strategy in the Georgia gubernatorial race:
This year, the strategy has taken the form of a debate about custom license plates — in particular, a Georgia license plate sporting a broad, bold display of the Confederate battle flag. Democrats have traditionally struggled to counter such race-baiting. And Republicans are wasting no time in running Southern pride and prejudice up the flagpole against the two most promising Democrats to run for statewide office in Georgia in a decade: Jason Carter, grandson of President Jimmy Carter and a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination; and Michelle Nunn, daughter of the popular Democratic senator Sam Nunn and a candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Westen argues to oppose this strategy the Democrats should:
Too often, Democrats have dealt with racial issues by avoiding them. Research shows that’s the wrong strategy, particularly in the South. Speaking directly about race allows our conscious values — which tend to be intolerant of racial intolerance, even in the heart of Dixie — to override our unconscious prejudices, which control our behavior when we’re not looking, or when other people aren’t, as in the voting booth. The best way to handle this kind of dog-whistle politics is to expose it for what it is.
Westen is right, the strategy of the Democrats had been to avoid the Confederate flag issue as much as possible in the hope of shaking loose a few extra white votes. Mudcat Sanders was a political consultant who argued for this position. In one article I read that his bed had a Confederate battle flag bed spread which is a sort of obvious and idiotic way of making a statement. (If some political operatives use dog whistles then Sanders was using a fog horn.) The Washington Post as a consequence of this policy and as a consequence of being the house publication of the Democratic party has avoided really critically examining the Lost Cause or arguing against the Lost Cause. I suppose also the Graham family that had owned the paper didn't want relatives or people at the club or acquaintances with Confederate ancestors and Lost Cause attitudes complaining either.

So I am so amazed to see this article. On the other hand I think that this change in attitude is confined to the Confederate battle flag and isn't intended to challenge the Lost Cause generally, but still it is a major shift for the Democrats in the South. Also, once you decide the Confederate flag isn't really desirable you are forced to engage the Lost Cause. The Democrats will be slow learners but I think they will learn.

For the Washington Post it certainly is a surprise. This is the third major article in the Post indicating a shift regarding the Lost Cause.

Not too long ago there was this Washington Post blog asking why Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are in the Washington National Cathedral. This was known by a lot of people previously, but it wasn't commented on.I refer to the Post blog in this posting.

Then there is this Washington Post column by Colbert King likening the Republicans to the Confederacy.I refer to it at this posting.

I think some Democrats have figured out that there really isn't a reason to vote for them unless they represent a choice for the voters.

Former president Jimmy Carter is somewhat fond of the Confederacy and so it would be interesting to what extent Jason Carter will give up the Lost Cause or how he will frame the argument against the Confederate battle flag.

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