Donald Trump supporters clash with Capitol police at a rally in Washington on January 6, 2021. Picture: Reuters
Donald Trump supporters clash with Capitol police at a rally in Washington on January 6, 2021. Picture: Reuters

Storming of Capitol was a ’whitelash’ against black American gains – academic

By ANA Reporter Time of article published Jan 11, 2021

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Cape Town – The storming of the seat of the US government by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump last week has been described by an American academic and author as a "whitelash" against the advancement of the rights of black Americans.

Sheryll Cashin, a law professor at Georgetown University, writes in Politico news that the assault on the US Capitol by mainly white insurrectionists should be read as part of a historical trend repeated throughout the history of the country.

She notes that January 6 should have been a day of elation for black Americans as the run-off race in Georgia had resulted in the election of the state's first black Democratic senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock.

Instead, it turned to sadness as symbols of white supremacy were displayed by those who wreaked havoc at the Capitol.

"The emotional whipsaw of Wednesday’s events had another, deeper resonance for Black Americans, whose political history has been defined by the long, tidal rhythms of Black advancement followed by white backlash – one that the United States seems destined to relive, over and over."

Cashin said it should be remembered that Trump ascended to the White House on the back of lies about the first black US president, Barack Obama, and the Tea Party movement.

"Whitelash is an old American ritual, one my own family has lived," she said, describing the phenomenon as the predictable recourse of those who cannot accept "robust pluralism" in America and one politicians in her family lived through in the southern state of Alabama.

Tracing a history of the advancement of black rights in the United States, she wrote that in the late 18th century, when Alabama adopted the most progressive constitution in the former confederacy, white supremacists intentionally set about destroying reconstruction in the state and throughout the south.

"With the Hayes-Tilden compromise of 1877, a Republican-controlled Congress agreed to remove federal troops from Southern states, in exchange for Democrats accepting Republican Rutherford Hayes as the electoral winner in a disputed presidential election."

It was a case of electoral gerrymandering resulting in a reversal of gains. Bi-racial populism resurged, but violence, ballot tinkering and legislative cunning kept black southerners disenfranchised, she said.

"Republicans, beginning in the 1960s, worked a realignment through a five-decade Southern strategy of white identity politics that stoked racial division."

This eventually spawned the "gross white nationalist appeals of Donald Trump".

Cashin predicted that America would repeatedly live through this form of pushback against the advancement of black rights, but that at the same time it would drive black Americans, as it historically has, to fight for a greater say in the running of the country.

"Even as many Americans celebrate the Georgia election results and the dawn of a new presidential era, we can’t expect whitelash to cease. But as it has always been in the United States, empowering those most hungry for equality for themselves to participate in politics is the best way to ensure that American democracy will endure."

Cashin is not the only commentator to construe the scenes in Washington that shocked the world, and the closeness of the presidential election, as a backlash against the Black Lives Matter protest movement against racial inequality.

The sweeping protests following the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Breonna Taylor had raised hopes for a profound overhaul of how the country deals with race, yet the election saw voters express concern primarily with the state of the US economy.

Alvin Tillery, the head of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University, told USA Today in November last year that one should not expect the demonstrations and calls for an end to systemic racism to result in a mass rejection of Trump at the ballot box.

House Democrats have now signalled that they will seek to impeach Trump, describing him as a dangerous and delusional president.

On Sunday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered an ultimatum to Vice-President Mike Pence to strip Trump of his presidential powers, as per a resolution the House would bring on Monday, failing which impeachment proceedings would be initiated.

African News Agency (ANA)

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