Once again, Sarah Palin has reared her head with hollow verbiage. It’s almost become cliche: She constantly makes incendiary comments because that’s the only time the media pays attention to her.
Palin’s latest foray down the road of irrelevancy happened on Wednesday on her Facebook page. Her post, titled “Obama’s Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies,” says, “Why the cover up? Why the dissembling about the cause of the murder of our ambassador on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil? We deserve answers to this. President Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.”
I will give Palin the benefit of the doubt that she doesn’t know the history of the phrase “shuck and jive,” because to conclude differently would be to assume she knows something about history (and we know from her 2008 Katie Couric interview that that is very unlikely).
The expression “shuck and jive” is a term of survival from slavery and is often interpreted as the act that slaves would take to deceive their “masters”or other whites in power. Slaves would be in the field shucking corn or picking cotton, and when the “master” came around to check up on them, they had to make sure “master” was satisfied with their production or they would be subject to beatings, rape, and other types of punishments. This is a horrific term to be used by someone in Palin’s position, whether the President is African American or not.
I now hope my white readers will have a little more understanding about why there is such uproar over this latest Palin incident. (Ed. note: Palin has defended her comments in subsequent news reports)
When Palin makes statements like this, it’s the personification of everything that is wrong with the Republican brand. Since there is absolutely no diversity within the party, there is no opportunity to see things through a different set of eyes. This leads many black people to conclude that the Republican Party doesn’t care and has no interest in learning to appreciate people who come from different walks of life.
Indeed, these kinds of statements reaffirm how Palin is still under the influence of the “Southern strategy.” This was the Republicans’ willful decision to trade in black votes for the increasingly disaffected white Southern Democratic voter of the 1960s. This is why blacks left the Republican Party, and until the party deals with this legacy, it will never regain the African American vote in large numbers.
Is Palin a racist? I doubt it, but she has a history of using hyperbolic language and has absolutely no relationship with the black community. Either way, her latest walk down buffoonery lane is an embarrassment to our party.
If someone like Colin Powell or former Congressman Jack Kemp made a statement that could have been misinterpreted, they would have immediately apologized and the black community would have forgiven them because they had a long, established relationship with the community. They had spent years building up goodwill.
A lot of my Republican friends will e-mail me examples of Democrats making similar statements, which will show me that they clearly are missing my point. I can call my brother a lazy drunkard, but you can’t!
Republicans’ actions speak so loud that the black community can’t hear anything they say. This is why people like Palin, Akin and Mourdock are making it almost impossible to appeal to the black community; and it’s even more tragic that Romney doesn’t have the courage to denounce people like these.
So, the Party can continue to bow before the more extreme elements of our Party or they can begin to take principled stands based on what is right. Until such time, we will become as the sounding brass or a tingling cymbal: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Raynard Jackson, a registered Republican and political consultant, is president and chief executive of Raynard Jackson & Associates, a Washington-based public relations/government affairs firm.
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