Welcome to the GOP’s enemies list

LEE A. DANIELS | 9/7/2015, 8:54 a.m.
It’s getting more and more difficult to keep up with the lengthening list of people, groups and nations the Republican ...
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

(NNPA) – It’s getting more and more difficult to keep up with the lengthening list of people, groups and nations the Republican Party’s presidency-seekers are designating as targets.

Undocumented Latino immigrants and their American-citizen children? Check. Gays and lesbians? Sure. Asian immigrants and alleged birth tourists who take advantage of the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause? Yep. Black Americans? Of course. #BlackLivesMatter? Univision television anchor Jorge Ramos, for not having good manners? Add them in. Poor people? Right. Women who want to do anything that differentiates them from a doorknob? You, too. Muslim Americans, and Muslims across the globe? Absolutely. Mexico for sending undocumented Latino immigrants to the U.S. and now, China, whose own economic crisis proves it’s trying to wreck the U.S. economy? The GOP has found you out.

Welcome, all, to the Republican Party’s enemies list. For what would American conservatism be without enemies to blame for spoiling the pure, Whites-like-us-in-charge vision that’s always been its driving force?

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, got it exactly right in his Aug. 26 observation that, contrary to its supposed principles of religiosity and faith in markets, conservatism is just a reactionary movement, a defense of power and privilege against democratic challenges from below, particularly in the private spheres of the family and the workplace.

That dynamic, bolstered by deeply held racist and sexist notions, is why the GOP base hails Donald Trump, who otherwise has virtually none of the personal history or qualities conservatives say they value. Krugman wrote, “The point is that Trump isn’t a diversion, he’s a revelation, bringing the real motivations of the movement out into the open.”

In that regard, what Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said two weeks ago is equally revealing.

Speaking at a New Hampshire campaign event, Walker criticized President Obama for not stating the global war against terrorism is in fact a war against Islam itself. Walker declared that radical Islamic terrorism was fighting “a war against not only America and Israel, it’s a war against Christians, it’s a war against Jews, it’s a war against even the handful of reasonable, moderate followers of Islam who don’t share the radical beliefs that these radical Islamic terrorists have.”

Got that? This man who would be president of the United States believes that out of the roughly 1.6 billion followers of Islam around the globe, (compared to 2.2 billion Christians) there are only a “handful of reasonable, moderate” ones.

Walker, of course, moved right along after saying this and never specifying, for example, what number of reasonable Muslims made up that handful; or whether that group does or does not include all of America’s Muslim citizens (who now make up less than 1 percent of the country’s population); or how he’d operate as a president who believes America is both surrounded and infiltrated by fellow-travelers of radical Islamic terrorists.

Walker’s words reminded me of words another governor of another state snarled a half-century ago in the midst of another crisis. That was the declaration of racial war in the defense of White supremacy George C. Wallace declared in his 1963 inaugural speech as governor of Alabama. That rancid speech’s most infamous line was his pledge to defend “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”