With everyone talking about the recent and tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia this week, the issue of racism is once again, front and center in the American body politic. While much of the news coverage has focused on what the left is saying about this situation, there seems to be an opening for Conservatives to begin a constructive dialogue about this vexing and disturbing social issue. In this issue of Point-Counterpoint on Liberty Nation, Editorial Director Leesa K. Donner and Race Relations & Media Affairs Correspondent Jeff Charles face-off in a much-needed discussion about the race issue from a conservative stand point.
Ms. Donner: Jeff, you recently wrote a provocative article on LN about the silence of conservatives regarding race. Just what do you mean by that?
Mr. Charles: The article was more provocative than I thought it would be! My main point was that conservatives mostly ignore the fact that racism still exists in the United States. This has given the left two advantages: 1. They can more easily portray conservatives as bigots. 2. They have dominated the conversation on race in the United States. While the left’s depiction of racism in the country is exaggerated and inaccurate, the incident in Charlottesville shows us that bigotry is still an issue that conservatives should address.
Ms. Donner: First, let me say I agree with your premise. We should not permit the left to control the narrative on this crucial social issue. For the sake of argument, it seems that the right is totally at a loss as to how to go about doing this. Recently you wrote, “When they [the left] call us bigots, we should allow them to look like fools. After all, their fixation on racism is one of the reasons Republicans won last year.” This too is a cogent point. I don’t think it’s arguable that race relations in this country have gotten better in this country over the last half-century, but it seems this latest push by the left has caused people to retrench into highly divisive and polarized groups. White supremacist’s marches are not occurring daily in America. But I do see that as a possibility should the left continue his current fixation to remove every scrap of Civil War history from every city and town in the south. Thus, we have the events in Charlottesville. It’s not because this sleepy college town is so racist but because the left kept loudly asserting – and winning — their objective to get everything from park names to statues renamed or removed. So, I submit to you that the real racism in this country is being animated and exacerbated by those of the left, not right.
Mr. Charles: The left’s obsession with race has caused significant damage to race relations in the United States. One of the reasons this has happened is because conservatives have allowed the left to dominate the national conversation on race. The left’s mission to remove historical monuments will certainly be met with more protests – both from white supremacists who believe that whites are superior and from non-racist conservatives who just want to preserve history. This is yet another reason why people on the right must take a more active stance against these white supremacist groups. When individuals protest the removal of these statues, the establishment media will have an opportunity to lump conservatives in with the white supremacists. For this reason, we need to forcefully articulate our opposition to white supremacists and show the American public how their beliefs have nothing to do with conservatism.
Ms. Donner: I couldn’t agree more which is why I wrote about that very thing today. But let’s face it – it takes some Gump shun to say “keep the Civil War history” because you know for sure you will be labeled racist. I thought long and hard about that article because eradicating history from the collective memory of a people does nothing to advance the dialogue. When that’s done, all you have left is an ignorant populous. So the left wins if we shut up and the left wins if we keep talking. So where is our lane as conservatives?
Mr. Charles: I’m not sure I agree that the left wins if we keep talking – I think the fact that we have remained silent on the issue of racism is why they are winning. If conservatives were more diligent in differentiating themselves from actual bigots, it would be much harder for the left to smear us as racists when we argue against removing the statues. It’s important that we understand how much ammunition our relative silence has given the left. It has made it harder for us to debate issues involving race – like the Confederate statues. Yes, liberals will always portray people on the right as racists – but that doesn’t mean that open-minded individuals will believe their lies. If we can successfully separate conservatism from white supremacy in the minds of the American public, we will have found our lane as conservatives. If it worked for the Democrats, it could work for Republicans.
What do you think? How should Conservatives handle this vexing issue?