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Opinion | Tuberville’s racist comments were deplorable, but far from original

Since the founding of the country, lazy and dumb politicians have used racial fears to win cheap votes.

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is introduced at a rally for former President Donald Trump at the Minden Tahoe Airport in Minden, Nev., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. AP Photo/Jose Luis Villegas

A crowd had gathered – a crowd of more than 1,000, including women and small children – and they were excited. The Black man had been captured earlier by law enforcement, but a lynch mob had taken him by force, and now the promised torture and death would begin. 

The white people were almost joyful. 

They began by cutting off the man’s fingers and toes. Then his genitals. Then stabbing him slowly. Over and over and over again. But never risking death. 

Then there was more beating. Then the man was tied to a tree. Kerosene was placed on the wood beneath his feet and the flame lit. The crowd cheered when they heard his screams. 

Later, pieces of the man would be sold. His knuckles. His fingers. His burned hunks of flesh. 

This was not a scene from a horror movie. It was real life. It was the South in 1899 – where public lynchings were very much a reality for Black men and women. 

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In this case, the man’s name was Sam Hose. He had been wrongfully accused of rape and child abuse. But his real crime was being a “scary” Black man in a mostly white country. A country that was still very much struggling with the aftermath of slavery. A country in which white politicians had learned well that painting Black men as “animals,” “beasts,” “savages” and “criminals” could be effective political campaign tools. 

All part of the myth of the Scary Black Man. 

A myth that has been way too politically expedient to die. 

A myth that has led to countless unfair laws and wrongly convicted men. A myth that filled prisons and jails. A myth that destroyed families and saw Black men’s lives end before they ever began.  

At its core, it is nothing more than good ol’ fashioned racism. But in practice, in this day and age, it usually comes mixed with the political pandering of a desperate, brain-dead, mouth-breathing politician too stupid or lazy to offer ideals and governance so he leans into fears and bigotry. 

That was certainly the case Saturday night in Nevada, when Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville took to the stage at a Trump Traitor Rally and reminded the world that Alabama Republicans are hellbent on furthering that racist state image (even if we have to import our racists from Florida in this case to do so). 

“They are not soft on crime,” Tuberville screamed about Democrats. “They’re pro-crime. They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparation because they think the people that do the crime are owed that!”

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You don’t need a decoder ring to figure out who “the people that do the crime” are in this George Wallace-esque tirade. Hint: “reparation” gives the game away.  

Disgusting doesn’t begin to adequately describe this. Deplorable doesn’t begin to describe the person who said it. 

Oddly enough, though, while there were plenty of Republicans ready to publicly denounce student loan forgiveness and pardons for low-level marijuana crimes, there hasn’t been a peep of condemnation from any Republican on this racism. 

But while the racism, hatred and historical ignorance are all bad enough, it’s the hypocrisy of Tommy Tuberville saying this that really pushes things over the top. 

Because here’s this guy, whose only political attributes seem to be speaking in football-ease and gleefully not knowing rather basic stuff about the government in which he serves, pretending as though he has some level of moral superiority over these Scary Black Men who only want to take what you got. 

When in reality, it is this weasel who’s doing the taking. 

In his brief not-quite-two years in office, Tuberville has done almost nothing to help his home state – leaving that heavy lifting to Sen. Richard Shelby – and instead has focused pretty much all of his time on helping himself. 

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In addition to his part in the planning of the Jan. 6 insurrection (which he’s denied), Tuberville has been accused repeatedly of numerous ethics violations and violations of the law for various stock trades. Trades that mysteriously would benefit from information he received at hearings and other functions as part of his duties on Senate committees. 

Talk about someone coming for what you got. 

But then, that’s who Tuberville is – an narcissistic opportunist who believes he’s owed whatever he can get his hands on while he constantly searches for ways to take what he wants. And whatever furthers that agenda is fair game. 

Whether it be trading stocks on Senate information. Or saying really, really racist things to stoke up the base. 

It reminds me of former Georgia Sen. Rebecca Felton. In the days after Hose’s lynching, as the world expressed outrage and shock at the details of the brutal slaying, Felton wrote to an Atlanta newspaper to support her fellow white citizens and let them know that she had their backs. 

Felton wrote that any husband or father would have killed Hose in the same manner and suggested that a dog should receive more sympathy for being killed. 

Because throughout American history, there have always, always, always been people willing to trade upon the grotesqueness of racism in furtherance of their careers. They’ve always been willing to sacrifice the opportunities and peace of mind of minority citizens if it meant a few additional votes from scared white people. 

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So, on top of everything else, Tuberville wasn’t even original. 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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