Friday, December 13, 2002

The Anti-Discrimination Discriminators

Yesterday, Mighty Joe Conason had another great piece on Trent Lott's record on race. Near the end, he suggests that Bush's move to push his "faith-based initiatives" plan seemed to be a way for Karl Rove to get the focus off of Lott. If so, he picked a funny way of doing it. The Republicans are now covering up discrimination by allowing discrimination.

Atrios was, as far as I know, the first to point out this logical conundrum yesterday, but Bush announced this plan while decrying discrimination -- even though it's built into his plan.

Dubya yesterday said that he was changing (by executive order) the rules that kept some religious groups from getting federal funding. He made sure that the change would allow religious organizations to practice hiring discrimination based on religion. "One order Bush signed," writes Dana Milbank, "explicitly allows religious groups serving as government contractors to hire on the basis of religion."

That's all well and good, but consider Senator Lott's amicus brief on behalf of Bob Jones University. Taking his stance, that could also mean that groups could exclude blacks if their religion says they ought to. Let's look at Lott's words from the brief, via the ever-vigilant Josh Marshall "racial discrimination does not always violate public policy. Schools are allowed to practice racial discrimination in admissions in the interest of diversity... If racial discrimination in the interest of diversity does not violate public policy, then surely discrimination in the practice of religion is no violation."

Bush's orders also demanded that religious groups receive "equal treatment," meaning that they couldn't be discriminated against based on their beliefs. Given that, a group like the folks who founded BJU, which (as it was put in the findings of Bob Jones University v. United States) ""genuinely believes that the Bible forbids interracial dating and marriage," can now get funding thanks to George W. Bush. Even those who expel students who disagree with the policy and "espouse, promote or encourage" interracial dating could get that funding.

As Nitpicker has pointed out already, this "compassionate conservative" stuff is already going to help pay the bills of those who've spouted the only truly anti-American hate speech we've seen thus far, so why should this surprise us?

I'll tell you why. Because it shows that Karl Rove, the media juggler and political magician, may have finally run up against a brick wall. He has, for so long, manipulated the media with the (admittedly politically superb) timing of announcements (aided by media complicity in looking in the direction he points) and the use of minimalist language that hides the depth of Bush's plans. Now, in trying to cover-up one Republican gaffe he has, if the media will show it, shown the party's weakness on this issue and, if someone with a national soapbox will only dig deeper, it will show the discrimination inherent in the party. People can now be shown that the Republican platform was made for rich white people who care little for people of color and the poor.

Update: The New York Times' "major league asshole" Adam Clymer lays it all out for you. Read this column, too.

And, I'll bet, Republicans will be promoting Professor Krugman to the major leagues today, too (if they haven't already).

Also good. And, check out what Body and Soul has to say about this, via Sisyphus Shrugged.

More: The post from Jeanne D'Arc at Body and Soul (link above) has really got me thinking. Read it. Then realize this: There is no better time than the present to put the whole "Party of Lincoln" crap behind us, by pointing out that Lott, Thurmond and Helms all used to be Democrats. Now, we might shudder at the thought that these people were once members of our party, but we should take this time to celebrate the fact that they switched when it became clear that the Democratic party was no longer hospitable to their beliefs. As Trent Lott himself told his buddies at the Southern Partisan magazine (thanks again, Mr. Marshall), "I think that a lot of the fundamental principles that (Confederate President) Jefferson Davis believed in are very important today to people all across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party."


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