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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Modern-Day Know-Nothings Take Control In The South

Modern-Day Know-Nothings Take Control In The South

Anyway, here’s the business end of Rapert’s speech:

“You’ve got to change the hearts and minds of the people that live around you. You’ve gotta pray. It says ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.’ And I wonder sometimes when they invited all the Muslims to come into the White House and have them a little Ramadan supper, when our president could not take the time to go attend a National Prayer Breakfast — I wonder what he stands for.

“You know what, what they told us is …what you do speaks so loudly that what you say I cannot hear. I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don’t represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not goin’ to save us. We’re gonna try to take this country back for the Lord. We’re gonna try to take this country back for conservatism. And we’re not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in.”

Does it help to know that President George W. Bush never missed a Ramadan dinner? Nor has President Obama skipped a National Prayer Breakfast. New York magazine posted photos of him presiding at every single one.

What’s most alarming isn’t Rapert’s racial views, but his continuing indifference to the truth and his disdain for religious liberty. His views are scarcely distinguishable from those of the Know-Nothing party of the 1850s. Then it was German and Irish Catholics who were suspect; today, it’s Muslims.

Over time, it’s a losing strategy. Eventually, Americans come around to supporting the First Amendment and rejecting religious bigotry.

How things will play out in the shorter term is harder to say. It’s one thing to dislike Obama, quite another to embarrass an entire state, region and political party. Arkansans in particular have been touchy about their image dating back to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and beyond.

If politicians like Rapert don’t learn to moderate their tone, even in the South their ascendancy could be a short one.

Photo by University of Central Arkansas/Flickr

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