At What Point Does the GOP Become a Hate Group?

GOP Hate GroupHere is an issue that deserves some attention.

Commentators have had some harsh things to say about the Republican Party of late, what it has become, and the direction in which it is heading. One observer, a clinical psychologist, characterized the GOP as the mainstreaming of political paranoia, with politicians who invent their own reality. The New York Times’ resident conservative said “the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.” And a Washington Post columnist called the party a cult, a “virtual political Jonestown” of intellectual stringency on issues such as taxes and abortion.

Now, these three writers said nothing within the realm of the unreasonable. Their indictment is warranted. There is no question, based on the evidence, that the GOP is that peculiar institution in which people thrive, based on an alternate set of facts, divorced from reality. To say, for example, that climate change does not exist, or that the New Deal did not end the Great Depression, is to operate under one’s own set of facts. Further, believing it is a good thing, even desirable, to allow the U.S. to default on its debt obligations – and that all tax cuts are and no revenue increases are good – is not the mark of an organization that should be anywhere near the reins of power. And there can be no denying that twisted ideas such as criminalizing miscarriage and forcing rape and incest victims to give birth are the stuff of Kool-aid drinkers.

But can we take this a step further and ask whether the Republican Party is a hate group? If not, does it run the risk of becoming one? First, we need a working definition.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics… Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing… [but] does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

And the FBI says that a hate group is “an organization whose primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization.”

Based on either definition, there is an argument to be made that the Republican Party – formerly known as the party of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, the Radical Republicans, and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments – has lost its way and is engaged in poisonous activity that is harmful to the social and political discourse.

As for the first definition, the GOP does attack and malign groups based on immutable characteristics. The efforts in Missouri, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas to ban Sharia law, and hearings on radical Islam in the halls of Congress amount to raw attacks on Muslim Americans. Arizona-style anti-immigrant bills are designed to foment white hostility towards Latinos, America’s largest and fastest growing minority group. Further, let us not forget the assault on the reproductive rights of women and control over their own bodies, with virtual Republican nullification of Roe v. Wade in states such as Kansas, Indiana and Ohio. Meanwhile, Texas and Arizona openly display their contempt for people of color by whitewashing the textbooks, banning ethnic studies, and removing the civil rights movement from school curricula.

These regressive laws remind me of what Martin Luther King said in Letter from Birmingham Jail: “An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.” In 2011, the “minority” King referenced has been expanded to poor and working people of all backgrounds, as punitive policies and coldhearted austerity measures assault broader segments of the population.

As for the second definition, it is debatable whether the Republican Party’s primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice towards certain groups that differ from their members. However, it is also arguable that the GOP’s primary purpose is to win elections – and advance a plutocratic agenda of upward wealth redistribution in the process – by promoting ill will toward Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, the LGBT community and others.

Even if one refuses to accept that the GOP is a hate group, or well on its way to becoming one, at what point can we entertain the possibility? It is rather curious that members of that organization have no qualms about associating with known hate groups, yet manage to escape that designation. For example, the state legislators that sponsored Arizona’s infamous SB1070 immigration law, and Pennsylvania’s voter ID and anti-immigrant legislation, are affiliated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a white nationalist group. Texas Governor Rick Perry teamed up with the American Family Association, a homophobic hate group, for a so-called “prayer meeting.” And Newt Gingrich funneled $125,000 to the political wing of that group, which compared blacks to rabbits and called Native Americans savages, claimed Europe is “infested” with Muslims, and compared homosexuality to murder, adultery and theft.

How is it that a party which once boasted 1,500 black elected officials in the Reconstruction-era South has now become a de facto party of white nationalism in the twenty-first century? How is it that the party that enacted the Fourteenth Amendment now seeks to repeal it? Well, it took a lot of hard work.

Once a truly “big tent” party with liberals, moderates and conservatives, the GOP decided to hitch its wagon to Lee Atwater’s Southern Strategy. The Southern segregationists migrated from the Democrats to the Republicans after Lyndon Johnson enacted his civil rights legislation, and the Republicans enticed them with a warmed-over Jim Crow message of racial resentment towards black people. This race card strategy proved highly successful in winning elections, and extremely addictive. Then, the means became an end in itself.

David A. LoveSuddenly, the highly racialized Birthers and radical teabaggers came on the scene – armed with their hatred of facts, science, racial minorities and the nation’s first black-Muslim-Kenyan-fascist-socialist president. Lacking in empathy, these bullies have finished off any vestiges of moderation in the once Grand Old Party. They killed whatever common sense and sanity remained. Today, Reagan would be a bleeding heart liberal compared with this crowd.

So, the question remains, are the Republicans a hate group? I don’t know, I only ask the questions.

David Love
The BlackCommentator


  1. R Wells says

    The Legacy of the Confederacy continues to continues to plague the achievements of this nation, and people continue to tip-toe around it for fear of confrontation. From the flag flown in Columbia, SC to the Texas governor advocating secession, the spoiled child sentiment continues to flourish. “If I can’t have it my way, no one can have it” or “I will destroy it before allowing you to change it”. These narrow minded people are the true whiners impeding our nation’s recovery, but mainstream media is afraid to report the facts. In the Confederate culture, the corporations were plantations where the community depended on the generosity of the landlords. They resisted government regulations then and now.
    The GOP is united behind the cry of lax leadership. Lately, a lot of people seem to be experts on leadership. Apparently they never heard the saying that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. There are a lot of nags in the House of Representatives!

  2. says

    The Republican Party of today can trace its roots back to the first election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980, when the gipper chose to begin his campaign in of all places Philadelphia Mississippi, birthplace of the KKK, and he started by touting his support of states rights, that eventually opened the door for the likes of Jerry Falwell and others of his ilk, forefathers of today nuts jobs that run the G.O.P. ex: Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and others. the republican party was hijacked years ago by the most hoary elements of the Christian Right and others who, tout the evangelical line, that it has become a hate group is without question

  3. says

    The temptation is to ignore a larger, more significant picture. The author, Mr. Love, is accurately and eloquently describing a symptom. The phenomenon itself is technologically driven.

    The Republican Party is strong. They have taken one house of Congress and nearly took another. They are looking toward the Presidency with increasing confidence. Many more state governments are now under their control.

    In ten years they will not exist as a national political force. The reason is the home computer.

  4. Chukar says

    Yes, it’s a hate group. I’d say it became one during the 1920’s or as late as the ’30’s. This would be when it became owned and operated for a small group of the wealthiest Americans. It is this small group of the uber-wealthy who hate all people who are not – specifically – themselves. This certainly includes all of the lower & middle classes, and most of the well-off-but-not-quite-stinking-rich.

    The hate escalated when Nixon’s instituted his “southern strategy” in the late 60’s – early 70’s, when they convinced the southern racists that they belonged in the GOP, not the Democratic party, because all of “those blacks” were starting to vote and were voting for the Dems, Nixon was right and the southern states now vote almost entirely GOP.

    In 1981 Reagan instituted the policy of running ever larger deficits in order to run up the national debt. Since 1981, the only year we ran a surplus was in Clinton’s final year, and Bush made fast work of that with his super tax breaks for the rich. Under Bush II, they wasted trillions on pointless drawn-out wars, multiplied domestic spying beyond all calculation, then shoved the economy down the well while throwing the banks all-expenses-paid life rafts. The GOP, despite what they currently weep and wail about, do not care one iota about deficits or national debt or debt ceiling. The real aim – for which all debt reduction is merely a tool – is to eliminate all social programs and create a nation of impoverished, powerless, homeless and frightened people who will do exactly what they’re told when told. Keep the babies coming, eliminate home ownership, destroy all unions, educate only the wealthy, gut governmental oversight, reduce wages, make the laborers fight for a crust of bread or a job cleaning bathrooms, hire and supply their own armies and the Kochs and their pals will have achieved the utopia they have longed for and paid (the GOP) to get.

    Calling them a hate group is a mild epithet for what they’re up to.

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