© By Peter Barry Chowka
Rather than usher in a post-racial, more unified society, the presidency of Barack Obama exacerbated America’s divisions in hot button areas of race, ethnicity, and identity. A number of the Democratic Party’s leading contenders to unseat President Trump in 2020 are already testing the political waters, and it is clear that their appeals to race and identity politics – echoing the Obama years – will play prominent roles in their campaigns.
Looking ahead to the 2020 election, Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.); Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.); and Julián Castro, the Hispanic former HUD Secretary and mayor of San Antonio, Texas, are three of the first “people of color” minority Democrat candidates to declare their presidential candidacies. All three are dyed in the wool proponents of identity politics.
Meanwhile, the story of black actor Jussie Smollett, whose claims of being the victim of a violent, racist, anti-gay attack on the streets of Chicago are now being seriously questioned as a fake hate crime, is leading the news cycles. It is also pointing to a potential conspiracy involving Sen. Harris and Sen. Booker. An article in American Thinker on February 18 was one of the first to report on this possible collusion among Harris, Booker, and Smollett – the purpose of which was presumably to exploit the actor’s allegedly faked attack for the benefit of the two Democrats. Their strategy is to gain attention for S.3178, the anti-lynching law in the Congress that they are both promoting.
In a post on February 18, a “founding member” of politicalbullpen.com posits the Harris-Smollett collusion scenario:
He [Smollett] is at Kamala’s announcement party.
Kamala has anti-lynching legislation that has stalled in Congress.
She only has 3 bills that have became law and all are BS symbolic crap.
All of a sudden, her gay black friend has a lynching incident.
Who knows when the last time something like this has ACTUALLY happened, especially in Chicago.
Kamala puts out a tweet saying this is a “modern day lynching” and Congress needs to act.
She doesn’t mention HER legislation so it doesn’t appear too obvious.
Less than 1 hour later, Cory Booker tweets out about this “modern day lynching” using that exact phrase and says Congress needs to act.
The use of fake hate crimes has a long politically-driven history. On February 18, Jamie Glasov, editor of Front Page Magazine, republished his November 2016 article on the phenomenon under a new title, “Why Jussie Smollett Lied – And All The ‘Hate-Crime’ Victims Who Weren’t; Totalitarian movements know how to portray themselves in order to gain power.”
The Hill documented what Cory Booker is up to in a story on February 18, “Booker seeks dialogue about race as he kicks off 2020 campaign.” Booker officially declared his candidacy on February 1, and made a big deal that it was the first day of Black History Month. Booker is now moving quickly to try to position himself as the minority candidate best equipped to run a racially-focused campaign. The Hill:
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has put the topics of race and reconciliation front and center in his nascent presidential campaign.
The early campaign themes are emblematic of growing calls among Democrats and progressives to address issues of discrimination and racial inequality at a time when support from minority voters is seen as crucial to the party’s electoral success.
He’s talked about systemic inequality and the need to confront racism head on.
The Hill article quoted Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina–based black Democratic strategist who often appears on Fox News, who said about the N.J. Senator’s focus on race :
It could help Booker stand out in an otherwise crowded Democratic primary field, especially in South Carolina, a crucial early-primary state where the majority of the Democratic electorate is black.
In a telling admission, another expert quoted by The Hill, Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist and former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, said that – in contrast – President Obama “belonged to a cohort of black politicians whose campaigns and policies were race neutral.”
The Hill also quoted this significant comment by Smikle:
“He [Obama] made a tacit agreement with voters to not engage race, but the killing of Trayvon Martin, events in Ferguson, Dallas and Baltimore, put race front and center” [emphasis added].
The high-profile deaths of unarmed black men and teenagers alluded to above involved the killing of Trayvon Martin at the hands of “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman in Flordia in 2012, the killing of Michael Brown by Officer Darrel Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. in 2014, and the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in Baltimore in 2015. All of these events quickly morphed into fake or wildly exaggerated memes that were then used to advance divisive political agendas for the benefit of leftist politicians. Notwithstanding the facts of the matter, the desired results were achieved – the top news story of 2014 according to the Associated Press was “The police killings of unarmed blacks.”
The long-standing but slowly healing wounds resulting from the legacies of slavery, which ended in the 1860s, and segregationist Jim Crow laws in the South, which ended in the 1960s, were ripped open again by the left’s exploitation of the aforementioned violent events during the latter years of Obama’s Administration. Keep in mind how Obama “assertively inserted himself into the controversy surrounding the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin” (as the Washington Post put it), one month after Martin’s death, when he said during a high-profile appearance in the White House Rose Garden “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
For his part, Julián Castro, the third minority Democrat candidate to declare for 2020, is in the thick of racialist identity politics, as he always has been. On February 4, Breitbart published a detailed 11,200 word examination of Castro’s career, titled “Identity Politics and Class Warfare Define Julián Castro 2020 Campaign.”
It is here, in identity politics with racial tinges and leftist grassroots organizing, where Castro feels most at home. . . as his mother was an early leader in hard-left organizations like La Raza.
“He is absolutely an extreme leftist,” James Dickey, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, told Breitbart News radio on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel. . . “That’s the background his mother comes from, and that is what he has been and done consistently in every chance he’s gotten the opportunity to and in his announcement for running for the presidency. That’s what he said he would do.”
“Their [Julián Castro’s and his brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro’s (D-TX)] mother was very, very active, not just as you said in La Raza, but actually in Chicano separatist movements,” Dickey added. . . “That really doesn’t at all respect our heritage or our country or the incredible melting pot that has been the United States and the welcoming environment that we have been for immigrants for a century or more.”
Dickey is correct that Castro’s mother, Maria del Rosario Castro, or Rosie Castro, was a major leftist organizer who co-founded La Raza Unida, an extremist third party separatist group in the 1970s. La Raza Unida literally translates to “The Race United,” and the group sought to create a new country in the American Southwest called Aztlan. Breitbart News has run a number of pieces over the years on this group and the Castro family’s connections to it, but perhaps the most interesting thing about Castro’s presidential campaign launch is that he did not shy away from this radical upbringing; he embraced it.
Immediately after news of the purported attack on Smollett, Castro issued a variety of tweets, including this one on January 29:
1/ I’m grateful to hear that Jussie Smollett is reportedly in good condition. I hope he fully recovers. I’m not sure many of us ever will. In 2019, he was violently attacked because of his race and sexual orientation. Unfortunately, he is not alone.
A protest in El Paso
Connecting the dots on what’s happenning here leads us to a not unrelated article in the Washington Examiner on February 18, “Protesters take over Border Patrol museum, deface pictures of fallen agents.” The protesters wore masks and meant business.
Dozens of demonstrators occupied and vandalized a privately owned U.S. Border Patrol museum near El Paso, Texas over the weekend, according to the site’s top official.
Museum director David Ham told the Washington Examiner his staff and guests worried for their safety Saturday when a group of about 50 rowdy protesters entered the facility, defaced property, and refused to leave the grounds.
“Say it loud, say it clear, Border Patrol kills!” group members standing inside and outside the facility yelled.
The group, which calls itself Tornillo: The Occupation, livestreamed the protest.
The money quote in the article about the violent El Paso protest is this:
One of the protest organizers, Elizabeth Vega, was previously involved in demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.
Prominent St. Louis activist Elizabeth Vega was reported to be among several people arrested Tuesday at a protest in Memphis.
Vega was identified by The Guardian as one of eight people taken into custody during a demonstration against immigration detention outside the Memphis jail.
Protesters have been gathering in the city to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, which is Wednesday. King was fatally shot at a Memphis hotel.
And so it goes.
Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.