2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

Huckabee, Immigrations and Invisible Racial Politics

 

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Roberto Lovato,
New America Media
Posted on January 4, 2008, Printed on January 11, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/72713/

* * *

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee also did his part to promote invisible race politics. The GOP underdog did so in no small part thanks to the issue of immigration, a very racial electoral wedge that many voters believe has nothing to do with race.

By focusing on "illegals," "illegal aliens" and other racial codes, Huckabee and other Republican candidates get to ride the juggernaut of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino sentiment gripping the country -- without appearing racist. Pundits have even taken to calling the immigration issue the "New Willie Horton," in reference to how, during the 1988 presidential race, a political advertisement deployed by George H.W. Bush against Democratic rival Michael Dukakis featured a black man convicted of murder who, after being furloughed. raped a woman. Many African Americans and others deemed the Horton ads a thinly veiled appeal to anti-black sentiment in the electorate.

Latino leaders and editorials in Spanish-language newspapers have denounced Huckabee for openly touting the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, one of the co-founders of the anti-immigrant Minutemen, an organization denounced as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and others. In an election that will witness the largest Latino voter participation in history, how well the veil of legality hides the racial aspects embedded in the immigration issue may determine the fate of Republican candidates like Huckabee.

Regardless of the outcome of this year's election, the success of Barack Obama and the immigration politics of Mike Huckabee signal clearly that we are well on our way to a new era in race and politics. Obama's story and his echoes of King make us feel good about ourselves and God knows this country desperately needs that. The question we need to ask is: "Are we willing to push him to talk seriously about those echoes of the racial past in the present that he so skillfully avoids?" And as far as Republicans like Huckabee, we have to ask, "How long are we willing to accept their unskillful use of the racist appeals inherent in their rants about immigrants and immigration issues?" Failure to ask these and other questions will leave us vulnerable to the silent poison of invisible race politics.

Roberto Lovato is a New York-based writer with New America Media. Read more of his work at ofamerica.wordpress.com.

2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/72713/
 
 

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