During a conversation about the death of Mikail Gorbechev this week, PBS’s Nicole Hemmer accused Republicans of using racism to attract voters.
At first, Hemmer claimed that the Soviet Union’s collapse made former President Ronald Reagan’s optimism and anti-communism unnecessary, and that those sentiments deteriorated into bitter resentment.
Host Walter Isaacson then brought up Reagan’s so-called “dog whistle” of complaints about welfare queens and said they stoked racial resentment.
“Was that to play to the hard-right or was that something that was in his nature?” he asked Hemmer.
Recasting Reagan as racist
Hemmer’s response was to chronicle Reagan’s so-called appeals to racism, like campaigning on state’s rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi where three civil rights workers had been killed in the 1960s.
She then said that after Reagan left office, Republicans changed tactics from a racist “dog whistle” to a much more explicit bull horn.
In the 1990s, she said, “You see politicians put down the dog whistle, pick up the bull horn, and make much more explicit racist appeals. So, some of the attempts to attract voters through racism, that was the same. It was just done in a very different way.”
In a follow-up, Hemmer also said the following:
The U.S. was becoming a much less white country. There were women were suddenly in the workforce and in high-powered jobs and all of that changed and all of that uncertainty really did open up a space that if you wanted to, instead of offering sort of the happy warrior conservatism of an earlier era, you could say, you know, things are bad and it’s somebody else’s fault and we’re going to find those people and hold them accountable and we are going to make them pay a price for you losing power in this country.
Certainly, the collapse of the Soviet Union changed American politics for both parties and they both had to adjust to a new reality where they didn’t have a common enemy that was easy to point at and to hate.
Where analysis turns to mudslinging is when Hemmer suggests that the GOP turned against minorities and blamed them for society’s problems after communism was vanquished.
Outside of a few tiny pockets of extremism, the GOP has not made racist statements or policies, except in the warped and twisted minds of the hard left, where everything is racist unless you agree with them.
It’s sad that PBS is giving any air time to such fantasies.