Republicans co-opting Martin Luther King Jr.’s quotes while pushing policy and supporting legislation directly in opposition to the Civil Rights leader’s wishes is just one example of the party attempting to rewrite history.
In fact, there are so many examples of revisionist history happening these days, particularly among conservatives, that historian and University of Princeton professor Kevin M. Kruse felt the need to publish a book alongside fellow historians, and join this episode of The New Abnormal politics podcast, to set the record straight.
He talks about his book Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past, which is a compilation of historian-written chapters that crush those myths, and shares proof that contrary to Republicans’ denials, the party actively engages in “Southern Strategy,” which is, as New Abnormal co-host Andy Levy explains, the “idea that as the Democratic Party moved away from being the party of slavery and segregation, the GOP sort of consciously moved to fill that void and to become the champion of white Southerners.”
From speaking in coded racial language to antagonizing white voters through fear and taking starkly pro-police stances, they’re absolutely following the knowingly racist playbook of conservatives past, says Kruse.
“This is not some wishful thinking theory that we’ve imposed in the past. The people we’re talking about in documents at the time, in interviews at the time, in books, talk about this,” says Kruse. “[Richard] Nixon talks about this in his memoirs. Harry Dent, his advisor, talks about it in his memoirs. Lee Atwater gives an interview where he talks about the old coded racism of the Nixon-era Southern Strategy. This has long been conventional wisdom. Heads of the Republican National Committee apologized for this. The thought that suddenly people are saying, ‘oh, this never happened. This is all a myth,’ was just kind of insane and frustrating.”
He also explains Nixon’s role in solidifying this strategy for the GOP and also why we still are taught basic historical lies, including one that Andy is particularly invested in: George Washington never telling a lie.
Also on this episode: TNA co-host Danielle Moodie interviews Jim Freeman, a civil rights lawyer and author of the book, Rich Thanks to Racism: How the Ultra-Wealthy Profit from Racial Injustice, to talk about the Defund the Police movement and the role police unions are playing in stopping it from happening.