The United States is among the most remarkable experiments in world history. Our Constitution, our laws, our brand of democracy, and our free market enterprise collectively serve as a blueprint for the rest of the world to follow. But despite our unparalleled achievements, our record on race relations has begrimed our nation's great legacy.
Slavery represented America's most contemptible state. It wasn't until the Republican Party was born in the mid-1800s that blacks found a powerful political advocate. And since then, we've come a long way. The election of the first black president sent a clear message to the world that the racial divide in our country has narrowed. But in the midst racial progress, the debate over illegal immigration has threatened to re-open an ugly scab.
A recent AP-Univision poll showed that Hispanics are now the most persecuted minority group in the country. The report showed that 61% of people believe that Hispanics experience the most discrimination while 52% believe it's African-Americans. It seems rather clear, racism still looms in America.
Given our tarnished past, some politicians thought it right to use racism for political gain. Recently, black Democrats have pounced on Jill Bader, a Communications Director for Scott Walker's campaign, for posting a tweet linking to a Soul Train video. The video showed people in a disco, primarily of African-American descent, dancing to a popular 90's song called "Come un 'N Ride it" (The Train). What got Bader into trouble was when she tweeted it was Obama's response to Walker. This was a mistake.
According to the Democrat Party of Wisconsin, a white person linking to a black video was a "calculated defiance of our state's deep tradition of tolerance".
But if Bader's tweet went against the "state's deep tradition of tolerance", wouldn't we have heard a more vociferous outcry from the public? To date, only a handful of leaders in the black community have made statements. And for this reason, it is truly difficult to tell if their outrage is more about racism or just a calculated attempt by Democrats to gain the upper hand on a politician already leading in the polls.
Chairwoman of the Democrat Black Caucus Stephanie Findley, Vice Chair of the Black Caucus Henry Sanders, and Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board Lee Holloway have all issued public statements demanding an apology from the Walker campaign.
El Conquistador asked Findley if she believed Bader's tweet was racist. She said it "used blacks as if to say only blacks folks from Milwaukee would be the only passengers aboard the high speed rail." She also said it was meant "to scare white voters up north" from supporting the rail line. When asked if her press release was a stunt to promote her own candidacy for the State Senate, she said it made no mention of her campaign.
Vice Chair of the Black Caucus Henry Sanders, who is currently running for Lt. Governor, has been even more vocal in his opposition to Walker. Sanders sent an open letter to Walker demanding that the Executive condemn the actions of his staffers. Sanders told Walker that Wisconsin doesn't need a leader who practices the same old and tired politics of division. Ironically, using a public press release to lambaste a gubernatorial candidate is more likely to be the "same old, tired politics of division" than Jill Bader's tweet.
Shortly after he wrote his open letter, Sanders sent out an email to followers calling for them to rally behind Democrat Tom Barrett for Governor. To harness the energy of the moment, he told followers that Walker's staff had circulated divisive videos to distract from the real issues at hand. But some would argue that exploiting Bader's blunder itself was a form of distraction.
As minorities, it's a matter of justice to call out racism where it lies. But calling out racism where it doesn't exist only causes more problems. Bader's tweet on a Soul Train video was a minor lack in judgment, but there is no evidence that she devised it to scare white voters from supporting high speed rail. Most white folks living up north don't follow Bader's Twitter account, so the claim appears to search for a problem that doesn't exist.