Donald Trump’s presidential campaign saw what may be the most blatant examples of racial dog whistling since the 1960s. Indeed, that’s one of the biggest reasons that people took to the streets after Trump won the Electoral College even after losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost three million votes.
Since then, a number of Republicans have seemingly used Trump’s ascendancy as carte blanche to engage in dog whistling of their own. Just last week, for instance, Ron DeSantis, the newly-minted Republican candidate for governor of Florida, claimed that his state was on a pathway to progress–and Floridians couldn’t afford to “monkey this up” by voting in his Democratic counterpart, Andrew Gillum. The criticism has come in unabated since then, as Gillum is black.
But a number of elements of the GOP’s most extreme fringe aren’t even trying to be subtle anymore about their racism. One of the worst offenders in this group, surprisingly, is a black man himself–black conservative pastor Jesse Lee Peterson.
Peterson has been one of the loudest and most obnoxious supporters of Trump, regardless of race. He has actually declared, with a straight face, that Trump is a “white savior” whom God chose to rescue America and make it great again. And if you don’t agree? Well, in Peterson’s eyes, you’re a child of the devil.
But long before he put on his figurative MAGA hat, Peterson has been saying things that not even the most hardened white conservative radio host would dare say. After all, he has said not once, but twice, that blacks were actually better off before they took to the streets during the 1950s and 1960s to demand their rights. He also believes that the sit-ins of that era were wrong, and even claimed that business owners should be able to kick people out on account of their race.
But Peterson may have outdone himself this past weekend. On Friday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to rename a section of Rodeo Road–no relation to Rodeo Drive–as “Obama Boulevard” in honor of former president Barack Obama. Eleven years ago, Obama held his first campaign rally at Rancho Cienga Park, which runs along the stretch to be renamed.
When Peterson saw this, he hit the ceiling.
Peterson is not a fan of Obama, to say the least. He believes Obama is a “girly man” because of his support for feminism. But even by Peterson’s low standards, this is simply outrageous. After all, he furnishes no evidence to suggest that naming streets for blacks will automatically send them to seed. And that’s because there isn’t any.
My hometown of Charlotte offers one very prominent example that proves Peterson is blowing crystal meth smoke. A downtown park is named for Romare Bearden, a prominent black artist. It runs along Martin Luther King Boulevard, and is across from BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights, top affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Far from being a ghetto, that area has become one of the places to be in Charlotte in recent years.
There are too many other examples to count, but that alone proves Peterson is blowing a dog whistle into a megaphone. Imagine if someone like Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, or Bryan Fischer suggested that naming streets after notable blacks would be the first step toward turning them into ghettos. They’d be fired on the spot.
Peterson claims to “rebuild men” through his nonprofit, the Brotherhood Organization for a New Destiny. Well, folks, if “rebuilt men” blow racist dog whistles in the manner that Peterson just blew, it’s yet more proof that BOND is long overdue for a date with the wrecking ball.
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