Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, claims that liberals are waging a “war on whites.” If so, Barack Obama must be at war with himself.
That’s how goofy Brooks’ logic sounds. But he’s not nuts. It is an old reflex, when cornered in politics, to lash back with the same charge that others have leveled at you — or, put another way, to project your own flaws onto other people.
What’s sad about Brooks’ claim is his feeble attempt to play the white victim card, plucking the strings of white nationalism, just to have his way with the nation’s immigration policy.
That debate cuts across racial and political lines, distancing him from such other conservative voices as The Wall Street Journal’s pro-business editorial page. It includes him in “the GOP’s Deportation Caucus,” the hardliners who blocked an immigration bill that would have allowed Republicans to go home for the August recess with something to brag about: addressing the border crisis and putting pressure on the White House and Senate Democrats to act.
“They need to be patriots,” Brooks scoffed on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, “and they need to think about America first.” That’s not the sort of advice the Journal usually needs, but it’s not easy to be enough of a hardliner to please Mo Brooks.
But it was another criticism that brought out Brooks’ war talk: the charge that the Grand Old Party is eating its own political seed corn by alienating Latino voters on immigration.
The National Journal’s Ron Fournier had observed to Fox News host Chris Wallace a day earlier that “the fastest growing voting bloc in this country thinks the Republican Party hates them” and the GOP “cannot be the party of the future beyond November if you’re seen as the party of white people.”
Brooks scoffed after Ingraham played that clip. “This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party,” he said. “And the way in which they’re launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else.”
Thanks, congressman. I had no idea that white people were finding it so hard to catch a break these days.
Even Ingraham, who routinely castigates liberals for “playing the race card,” tried to rein Brooks in a little. His “war on whites” characterization was “a little out there,” she cautioned, and word-wise “might not be the best choice.”
But Brooks wasn’t buying that. He stuck to his muskets.
The anti-white war, he explained, was “part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, greed, envy, class warfare.”
I was waiting for Brooks to claim that President Obama’s critics hate him, not because he’s black but because he’s half-white. But the congressman didn’t quite go there.
Recently Brooks released a written statement to MSNBC’s Joy Reid. He was only trying to “call out the Democrats for their racial appeals,” he said. “Race is immaterial and everybody ought to be treated the same.”
That’s a sweet-sounding sentiment, but think about it: Voters don’t always want to be treated the same when they have distinctly different problems and other concerns. You can listen to those concerns without playing the race card and respond to them without pandering.
In that spirit, Fournier was only stating what the GOP’s own “autopsy” concluded after their 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s disastrous drop-off in Hispanic support.
“If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States [i.e., self-deportation],” the report said, “they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs, or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”
With the party’s long-term future hanging in the balance, GOP chairman Reince Priebus denounced Brooks “war on whites” claim on Real Clear Politics as a “pretty idiotic thing to say.”
On that, I think both parties can agree — or, at least, they should.
CLARENCE PAGE’s column is distributed by Tribune Content Agency.