“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” isn’t a strategy, it’s a surrender. That’s why Republican Congressman Mo Brooks is wrong to claim there’s a “war on white people.”
The GOP is understandably frustrated by the effective messaging of the Democrats claiming a Republican “war on women” and “war on the poor” and even a “war on immigrants.” Just as framing GOP policies that way is wrong, so is framing Democratic ideas in such martial terms.
Brooks was on Laura Ingraham’s radio show last week, when he responded to a claim that many Hispanics feel no connection to the Republican Party.
“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. It’s 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, all those kinds of things.”
That much is true — President Obama does use divisive language when speaking about his opponents. But that’s no excuse for the GOP to adopt such tactics.
Brooks later expanded on his claim.
“What is the one race that can be discriminated against?” he remarked. “All whites … Whites are treated differently, you can discriminate against them.”
Here’s what’s wrong with this approach.
First, it trivializes actual war, in the same as the evergreen trope of a “war on Christmas” that trotted out whenever someone hears the phrase “happy holidays” trivializes real persecution.
There is a war on Christmas, and a war on everything Christian, and it’s far more serious than a mall Santa offering the wrong greeting.
As Kirsten Powers reported in USA Today, “Since capturing the country’s second largest city of Mosul in early June, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has ordered Christians to convert to Islam, pay jizya taxes levied on non-Muslims, or die… Mosul’s Christians have fled to Kurdistan, which is providing refuge. Going back to Mosul is not an option: ISIS has given their houses and businesses away.”
The point here is that claiming a “war on Christianity” at home trivializes the real thing abroad. The same principle is at work with Brooks’ comments. There are wars occurring right now, and they involve real suffering and destruction.
Second, claiming there’s a “war on white people” is a fallacy of distraction. The point that Congressman Brooks was responding to is a valid one: The GOP has done poorly with minority voters. That’s an issue the Republican Party must deal with, both nationally and right here in Texas, or it will condemn itself to obscurity.
The Republican National Committee realizes this; in a recent report, it admitted that “if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”
Brooks isn’t furthering the debate by claiming a new war. He’s forestalling debate, and any progress that could be made through a lively discussion of issues.