Afterthought from: Can A Racist Character Be Heroic?
You hear a lot of things about your typical White American Republican.
“They’re trailer trash.”
“They’re gun nuts.”
“They’re hateful of foreigners.”
I don’t usually talk about race unless it’s relevant, but I’m of Latino origin, and I have a great deal of experience interacting with people in the South. I also have a great deal of experience interacting with white Republicans in the South. Yes, those Republicans. The gun carrying, NRA loving, tobacco chewing, rebel flag waving, truck driving, Obama hating, Trump supporting, American men and women the media loves to hate. On that note, you’re probably excepting this piece to be a list of all the terrible things I’ve seen white Republicans do. Well, that isn’t the case.
As I mentioned in the video, nuance, and context are often forgotten in today’s politically correct society. The standard definitions of right and wrong have been skewed from asking “which party was in the wrong” to “which party is the one who is lease oppressed?” White people, for example, are free game when it comes to…pretty much anything. You can discriminate against them. You can mock them on national television. You can even proclaim yourself as pro-equality or anti-racism and still openly hate white people without suffering the consequences of being a hypocrite. When a white person speaks out against someone belonging to a minority group, however, they are instantly branded some kind of -ist or -phobe and their opinions are summarily dismissed. This attitude has fostered the idea that minorities cannot be in the wrong when their opponent is white, that they need to be protected or helped while the white majority are painted as comically oppressive villains. So, when a white conservative comes into conflict with any kind of minority, the circumstances are quickly ignored: the white man is always in the wrong. The media has a habit of spinning Republican opinions to such crazy proportions that it’s almost unbelievable to see a Hispanic, black, or gay conservative. But they exist, and their existence is understandably confusing. Social media and pretty much every comedian allowed on television have assured us that Republicans are hateful bigots…right? Well, without context or nuance, Republican rhetoric may certainly seem that way.
My experience with Republicans has told a very different story from the one that has been universally accepted as true. The old story tells a tale of selfish right-wingers who are against helping the sick and poor. The story I’ve personally witnessed, however, doesn’t quite match up. One of the staple pillars of right-wing ideology is not selfishness, but self-reliance. Hard work and small government. Placing the power in the hands of the people rather than a bloated government. I think it might be that ideal that draws so much flak from the left.
Democrats have spent many years courting the minority vote with sympathetic words and free stuff. Also, we have an entire generation raised on the “participation trophy” method. In an environment where mediocrity is rewarded, and money is handed out as a result of not contributing to society, it’s easy to see how the idea of having to earn things might seem like an imposition.
The Republicans I’ve encountered don’t hate minorities. They hate laziness. They hate seeing people getting paid for making mistakes and being rewarded for doing nothing. They would rather see everyone getting paid for doing their fair share. The white Republicans I’ve met respect hard workers regardless of their ethnic background. It’s not about hate. It’s about learning to rely on yourself. It’s about putting faith into your own skills, knowledge, and abilities rather than handing those responsibilities over to the state. It’s about doing a fair day’s labor for a fair day’s pay. When you take that core ideal into consideration, it explains many conservative positions. Supporting gun ownership and the ability to defend oneself in times of crisis. Distrust of socialized medicine and trusting one’s doctor rather than placing their fate in the cold hands of the state. Being pro-life and letting every potential child have a chance at life, and again, not making one person pay (the baby) for the mistakes of others (the parents). When you’re raised being rewarded for failures, having a group telling you that people should only be entitled to the things they earn might seem heartless or cruel. It’s an idea too harsh for today’s soft world filled with politically correct language, trigger warnings, and safe spaces.
Of course, this is only a generalization of the white Republicans I’ve met. Racist right-wingers do exist. No doubt there are white Republicans out there that meet every stereotype I listed above. I decided to write this as an afterthought because the general spin the public has been fed on these people is not actually accurate. You don’t have to agree with the conservative position, but it always helps to understand where other people are coming from. So next time you hear a conservative talk about their views, take a moment and try telling yourself: Maybe it isn’t racism.