NYT's Nate Cohn Thinks Glenn Youngkin’s A Postracial Dreamboat Almost Like That Obama Guy
Maya Contreras, Democratic candidate for New York's 12th Congressional District, stated after Tuesday's elections that “Republicans ran a vile racist campaign in Virginia, and won. The targets of their ire were Stacey Abrams and Toni Morrison under the guise of Critical Race Theory. To be clear, Republicans won in Virginia by attacking Black women. No need to try and find a positive spin on that."
Republicans ran a vile racist campaign in Virginia, and won. The targets of their ire were Stacey Abrams and Toni Morrison under the guise of Critical Race Theory. To be clear, Republicans won in Virginia by attacking Black women. No need to try and find a positive spin on that.— Maya Contreras (@Maya Contreras) 1635944333
Yes, Virginia's shiny new governor-elect Glenn Youngkin turned out rural voters at Trump-levels with overt race baiting while presenting himself to suburban white one-time Joe Biden voters as an old-school Romney-style Republican who won't embarrass them at the country club. It was pathetically transparent but sadly effective. And Contreras is right, you can't put a positive spin on this. Although that didn't stop the New York Times' Nate Cohn from trying.
As an aside: watch some Youngkin. Obviously he's a Republican. It's *not* Obama '08. But there is that implicit aspiration to a postracial, colorblind, society.
Oh, Youngkin is definitely not 2008 Barack Obama, who prominently campaigned on "hope and change" not literal book banning. Youngkin dropped a literary Willie Horton on Terry McAuliffe a week before the election. The ad featured a white mother who objected to her son reading Toni Morrison's Beloved in AP English (a college-level class). That's the problem with a “colorblind" — or as Angela Davis calls it “color evasive" — society, you can't see overt racism when it's clutching its pearls in front of you.
Obama had to publicly reject his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, after he spoke heresies about America. Republicans are rarely so humble. Youngkin also accepted the endorsement of Donald Trump, whom you might recall from his attempted overthrow of the US government.
Cohn annoyingly gives Obama the “Cuddly MLK" whitewash, which ignores the almost immediate racist backlash against his presidency. The Tea Party rallies with Obama effigies were hardly postracial. Republicans have never apologized for enabling or outright participating in Obama's racist demonization. They are more inclined to victim-blame (a popular pastime) and insist that it was Obama himself who divided the nation and invented racism. I know there's resistance to teaching actual American history, but this was just 12 years ago.
Cohn suggests that Youngkin campaigned in a way that “lets the GOP assert that it's the other side dividing by race. It's a big turn from the Trump era." Yes, it's a big return to the days of Republican Senator Jesse Helms, who also ran race-baiting ads with white people clasping their hands. Black people apparently generate a lot of agita.
Not to go all “old man yells at cloud," but conservatives have long accused liberals and civil rights activists of stoking racial division. That's hardly a new trick from their magic bag of lies. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover considered MLK a communist threat. Hoover wasn't just some redneck. He led the US government's principal law enforcement agency. Professor Wornie Reed recalled that after King's assassination, there were demonstrations at Virginia Tech against lowering the American flag “for a (n-word)." This is the history that many white parents in Virginia don't want their children to learn.
Cohn also dropped this nonsense:
And look, I was a HS debater — I get the instinct to simply say CRT is a legal theory, say nothing's there in public schools, etc. It would win some debates. But don't let that obscure how that's playing out in practice.
Cohn actually has a point there. "CRT" may not be what they're teaching in schools, but now "CRT" just means Toni Morrison and Ruby Bridges and any other history that includes Black people. For us to say "that's not CRT" misses the point of what they are trying to ban. The Right is fighting to ban history itself, which a few months ago I seem to remember them caring about.
Meanwhile, Cohn and others in the media give Republicans like Youngkin kudos for shamelessly lying to voters. It was bad enough when they described Mitch McConnell as a master strategist after his latest act of obstruction. Now, they want to equate Youngkin's cynicism with Obama's idealism. God help us if they succeed.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."