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Trayvon Martin And The Republican Race Problem

Josh Barro at Forbes explains the race problem affecting the Republican party:

The claim running through these objections is that black Americans cannot have any special concerns in need of airing. Many of the issues raised in the Trayvon Martin case–was Trayvon Martin singled out for suspicion because he was black? Did race influence the Sanford police’s handling of the case? What is the burden of profiling on young black men?–are therefore off limits….

Conservatives, almost universally, feel like they get a bad rap on race. They catch heat when they point out improvements over the last several decades in race relations and in the material well being of minorities in America, even though those phenomena are real. They catch heat when they contend that government programs intended to help the poor have led to problems with dependency in minority communities, even though those critiques are sometimes correct. They catch heat when they criticize Affirmative Action, even when in some cases (as at the University of California) Affirmative Action was clearly dis-serving minority communities.

Why do conservatives catch such heat? It’s probably because there is still so much racism on the Right to go alongside valid arguments on issues relating to race and ethnicity. Conservatives so often get unfairly pounded on race because, so often, conservatives get fairly pounded on race. And this is the Right’s own fault, because conservatives are not serious about draining the swamp… There has been a clear strategic calculation here among Republican elites. Better to leverage or at least accept the racism of much of the Republican base than try to clean it up.

His solution:

My challenge to conservatives who feel they get a bum rap on race is this. Stand up for yourself and your colleagues when you feel that a criticism is unfair. At the same time, criticize other conservatives who say racist things, cynically tolerate racism in the Republican base, or deny the mere existence of racial issues in America today. The conservative movement desperately needs self-policing on racial issues, if it ever hopes to have credibility on them.

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