Nikki Haley’s mistake shows that racism is a concern even for Republicans

Despite rumors, endorsements and right-wing donors funneling millions of dollars into her campaign, Republican candidate Nikki Haley was never going to be president of the United States.

Now, she is In fact He will never be president of the United States, and the only surprising thing about this turn of events is why.

It turns out that race and racism are important issues, even for Republicans. Kind of. But first, let’s back up.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the extraordinarily simple question that Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, couldn’t bring herself to answer during a campaign event at New Hampshire Town Hall on Wednesday night.

“What was the cause of the American Civil War?” a man stood up to ask.

Haley, who broke barriers as the first Indian-American woman in the nation to serve as governor and the first in a White House Cabinet-level role as U.N. ambassador, seemed genuinely taken aback. “Well, don’t come up with an easy question,” she told the man, whom on Thursday she was desperately criticizing as a Democratic “sit-in.”

He continued, “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how the government was going to work: the liberties and what people could and couldn’t do.”

“I think it always comes down to the role of government and what the rights of the people are,” Haley added. “And we… I will always maintain the fact that I believe that the government was intended to guarantee the rights and freedoms of the people. He was never meant to be all things to all people. The government doesn’t need to tell you how to live your life. You don’t need to be told what you can and can’t do. They don’t have to be part of your life.”

Faced with this lack of response that echoed the segregationists’ excuses, the man, who refused to give his name to reporters, told Haley: “In the year 2023, I’m surprised you answer that question without mentioning the word ‘slavery'”.

Sorry, but that’s not surprising. Haley is not and has never been a moderate, despite the growing number of independents and moderate Republicans who have told pollsters they believe she is. Her history on racial issues is mixed at best.

As Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement: “This is what black South Carolinians have come to expect from Nikki Haley, and now the rest of the country is starting to see her for who she is.”

She’s the woman who, when she ran for governor in 2010, met with leaders of Confederate heritage groups and told them that the Civil War was a fight between “tradition” and “change,” and that she supported having a history confederate month.

This is also the woman who, during her campaign for re-election as governor in 2014, rejected calls to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House of Representatives. This was after it emerged that she had offered to leverage her identity as the daughter of immigrants to somehow convince the NAACP that the Confederate flag “is not a racist thing.”

Of course, these days, Haley loves to lean on her decision to support removing the flag in 2015, after a white supremacist killed nine black people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. She did it again at another municipal event in New Hampshire on Thursday.

“By the grace of God, we did the right thing and slavery no longer exists,” Haley said, according to the Washington Post. “I say that as a southerner. I say this as a governor of the South who removed the Confederate flag from the House grounds.”

“Yes, we know that the Civil War had to do with slavery,” he added.

Not that Haley is convincing anyone, least of all Democrats. As Harrison said, “I’m disgusted, but not surprised.”

But what is Surprising is the way even Republicans have criticized Haley.

In addition to social media posts from President Biden (“It was about slavery”) and California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna (“Haley’s refusal to speak honestly about slavery or race in America is a sad betrayal of their own story”), there are publications from rivals. Republican presidential candidates and even random Republicans.

“The answer is slavery,” posted on

Vivek Ramaswamy, who is also running for the Republican nomination but also will not be president, joked that he thought Haley had mistaken the man who asked her about the Civil War “for a Super PAC donor.”

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis called what Haley said a “salad of incomprehensible words” and said that she “had some problems with some basic aspects of American history” because “it is not that difficult to identify and recognize the role that slavery played in the Civil War.” “

Of course, most of this is just performative pandering, especially on the part of DeSantis.

After all, he is the one who, as governor of Florida, banned books and classes on black history and championed a school curriculum that teaches “how slaves developed skills that, in some cases, could be applied for personal benefit.” And now, in a new level of shamelessness, the super PAC backing DeSantis is trolling Haley with T-shirts emblazoned with: “What do you want me to say about slavery?”

But surprisingly and surprisingly, behind this hypocritical Republican nonsense there appears to be a recognition that the culture wars of recent years, while so effective among far-right voters, have taken their toll on the American public as a whole. We are tired and fed up, especially in liberal California.

Being historically accurate about race and racism does not mean In fact It matters to Republicans. But they seem to understand that they will never be elected to national office in large numbers. again without at least pretending that does.

Haley was never a serious alternative to former President Trump’s boring autocratic, white supremacist rantings. And she just showed us why in the dumbest way possible, eliciting some bipartisan scorn.

Whether this is progress or not, I’m not quite sure. But in the spirit of the holidays, I’ll embrace whatever hope I may have.

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