GWOT Dogwhistle

by digby

Steve Benen at TPM discusses the disturbing fact that the Republicans candidates seem to conflate all players in the middle east into a common enemy when the reality is much more complex.

I agree that it's very bad policy to think in those terms, but if you were a northeastern Morman or a New York City Italian-American with a socially liberal past you'd have to find some kind of dog whistle to signal to the southern conservative base of the GOP that you are one of them. If you have to take religion, choice and gay rights off the table, that only leaves you with one thing: r...a...c...e.

What appears to be a terrible confusion about foreign policy is actually a crude appeal to racism. And in that, I think Rudy could be formidable because he really and truly is a racist pig and he's got the toilet plunger credentials to prove it. Right now, he's running on national security in the primary and I can't for the life of me figure out why. He just isn't very convincing. He talks as if he were Napoleon or something when he was just a guy walking around in a mask giving press conferences on the rubble.

I can't figure out why he's leaving the "law and order" theme to that phony DA Frederick of Hollywood when he's the real deal. As a prosecutor and a mayor he proved his racist bonafides in ways that most southern Republicans can only dream of. He just needs to run on his real record:

Giuliani came to power in the context of a racially divided city. During his election campaign, he spoke at a police "protest" --in reality, a drunken brawl of white cops--held on the steps of City Hall against the establishment of a civilian complaint review board. Complete and unapologetic support for the NYPD became a hallmark of his tenure.

As soon as he took office, Giuliani announced a "quality of life" campaign, claiming that by going after small-time offenses, the city would be able to root out more violent crimes.

The symbol of this campaign was Giuliani's plan to drive "squeegee men"--homeless people who wiped windshields at traffic stops for money--from NYC streets. Giuliani's cops went after them with a ruthlessness that foreshadowed much greater brutality to come. As the campaign got underway, an off-duty cop shot and killed an unarmed "squeegee man"--and defended his actions on the basis that the man was a "criminal."

Treating misdemeanors as equal to more serious crimes meant ratcheting up the level of violence and repression in poor, minority communities. The underlying assumption of the new "stop and frisk" policy was that all Blacks and Latinos were potential criminals. A report by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer found that Latinos were stopped 39 percent more often than whites under the policy, and Blacks were stopped 23 percent more often.

The year before Giuliani took office, 720 people were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana-related offenses; by 2000, the number had jumped to 59,495--an increase of 4,549 percent. During a 10-month period in 1996, 50,000 people detained on misdemeanors were strip-searched by the Department of Corrections.

These kinds of aggressive policies gave a green light to the NYPD to terrorize Black and Latino communities.

When unarmed cousins Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega were shot in the back and killed while they lay face down on the floor in 1995, Giuliani called the officers and congratulated them on their performance. When Anthony's mother, Margarita Rosario, began organizing in protest, Giuliani told her that her son died because she was a bad mother.

This attitude was exemplified most starkly when cops tortured and sodomized Abner Louima in a Brooklyn police station in 1997. Even after the killing of Amadou Diallo--shot 41 times in the hallway of his building in 1999--Giuliani maintained his defense of the police and his opposition to any kind of reform of the NYPD.

Giuliani and his supporters defended these actions by claiming that "tough on crime" policies were crucial to a decline in crime statistics. But a look at the statistics shows that the drop in crime began 36 months before Giuliani took office--while Dinkins was still mayor. In fact, the 1990s saw a national reduction in crime, due largely to demographic and economic changes.

In Rudy's defense, it certainly did seem that the allegedly liberal New York loved what he was doing up until close to the end, so you can't just blame it on the bubbas. But then big city racism isn't exactly unheard of, now is it? (In fact, that's exactly the argument for Rudy's alleged cross-over appeal --- he's a big city racist --- the best of all possible worlds!)

But he's not running on that, he's running on his phony national security cred so the only thing he has to signal his sympathies with the neanderthal base is a full on racist attack against the entire Arab world. (That's always been what fueled a lot of the patriotic fever among the true believers anyway, so maybe he's on to something.) But he really is one of them, in the most essential way. It will be interesting to see if he finds a way to make that more explicit. He's certainly hiring the right people.

Romney, without any cop riots or toilet plunger scandals to fall back on, has a longer road to travel, but he's getting there. This headline, from Ed Sebesta's Anti-neoconfederate blog says it all:

'Yankee governor with Southern values' backs military and attacks 'HillaryCare'

I don't know what they mean by "Southern Values" exactly, and the article doesn't explain, but it's safe to say that it doesn't have anything to do with evangelical religion, consistency on social conservatism, confederate "heritage" or any of the other signals these wingnuts use as a stand in for their racism. His call to "double Gitmo" was met with raucous applause in that crowd.

Romney and Giuliani are essentially promising to kill all the dark skinned Arabs and let God sort it out. That's a dogwhistle that comes through loud and clear to the racist base of the GOP. You've got to figure that if they're willing to do that, they'd be more than ready to properly discriminate against our local dark ones. It's all good.

Update: For a taste of some of those real patriotic values check this out.