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Every Republican should be ashamed of Kelly Loeffler’s failed racist campaign against Raphael Warnock

This was a low point, even for the GOP

Michael Arceneaux
New York
Wednesday 06 January 2021 17:16 GMT
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(REUTERS)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

I know that Raphael Warnock, as a reverend, wouldn’t want me to relish in the misery and misfortune of others — but in the case of Kelly Loeffler, I’m just going to have to pray for forgiveness.

Warnock has bested Loeffler in a runoff election, and in the process, cemented his place in history as Georgia’s first Black senator and only the second Black American elected to the Senate from the south since Reconstruction. That’s all great news. But none of us should turn a blind eye to the hateful campaign Loeffler leveled against Warnock and the Black church in her efforts to win re-election.

Throughout her campaign, Loeffler and her allies relentlessly sought to categorize Warnock as a “radical liberal” and a “socialist”. These may be terms hurled at Democrats of all backgrounds these days from the Trump set, but when leveled against a Black man specifically, seem to be designed to stoke a particular fear about Black politicians amongst the white electorate. Warnock’s campaign understood this type of campaigning and its history. He responded accordingly early on, with a now-famous campaign ad featuring himself as a puppy loving-preacher rather than the big scary Black radical his opponent tried to make him out to be.

Nonetheless, Loeffler continued to attempt to portray Warnock as anti-white, anti-cops, and anti-military, as well as the kind of person who obstructs child abuse investigations. Loeffler did so by taking sermons — notably one Warnock posted to YouTube in 2011 in which he said that “nobody can serve God and the military” — out of context (for the record, Warnock’s musing is rooted in biblical passages). Loeffler also tried to brand Warnock as un-American by falsely attributing a controversial comment to him that was made by Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

It is bad enough that this country focused too much on one sentence from Reverend Wright instead of the crux of his legitimate critiques about how America treats its citizenry (particularly its most vulnerable), but in Loeffler’s pathetic attempts to vilify Warnock, she effectively condemned Black liberation theology. And considering Warnock is the head pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was once the church headed by Dr Martin Luther King Jr., many were rightfully incensed by such a gross miscategorization of Warnock and the Black church itself. 

In late December, a coalition of over 100 Black religious leaders condemned Loeffler’s campaign tactics in an open letter, assailing her political ads for “naked hypocrisy” and “blatant contradictions.” 

Kelly Loeffler is indeed a hypocrite — something the other Democrat likely to be joining Warnock as a Georgia senator, Jon Ossoff, noted in an explosive Fox News interview. “Here's the bottom line: Kelly Loeffler has been campaigning with a klansman," Ossoff said on-air last Wednesday. "Kelly Loeffler has been campaigning with a klansman," he repeated, "and so she is stooping to these vicious personal attacks to distract from the fact that she's been campaigning with a former member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper fact-checked Ossoff about this, telling him: “It is true that a former member of the Klan took a photo with her at a campaign event [with white supremacist Chester Doles]. Her campaign says she didn’t know who he was at the time, and she has condemned him. I’m sure you’ve taken photos with thousands of strangers. Isn’t it important for candidates to tell the truth?” Ossoff responded by saying it was not a one-off incident, while Tapper continued to press him.

It was a regrettable but predictable example of how racism in politics is covered in the media. Loeffler’s entire campaign has been about portraying Warnock as a scary Black man who is going to defund the police and let chaos ensue (in white neighborhoods). Let’s not forget that this is the same person who falsely portrayed Black Lives Matter as racist and anti-Semitic. The reaction to that claim of hers was so intense that members of the Atlanta Dream team, the WNBA franchise Loeffler owns, not only distanced themselves from her, but called for her removal and publicly supported Warnock’s bid.

Last week, Loeffler was accused of running a Facebook ad that artificially darkened the skin of Warnock — and while reports show her team has used the same two clips at least two other times, her campaign reportedly spent 10 times more money boosting the darker version on Facebook. That’s an investment of over $40,000.

Why do you think that is?

To those who tripped themselves into trying to check Ossoff for rightly highlighting Loeffler’s public display of affinity for outright bigots,  I don’t see the point in arguing about the “campaigning with a klansman” line when Loeffler has been running a campaign like one anyway. 

In an interview with ABC News following Warnock being projected the winner of his contest with Loeffler, the Senator said of her efforts: "This is the reversal of the old southern strategy that sought to divide people." Thankfully, Loeffler’s efforts have failed miserably, and Warnock and Ossoff will each make history as Georgia sends a Black man and a Jewish man to the Senate. These two men worked successfully as a team with a singular voice to best two bigots (note that Senator Perdue was criticized for an ad that enlarged Ossoff’s nose and suggested he wanted to “buy Georgia”, as well as separately mocking Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ name at a rally). But it is especially sweet to see that Black voters are responsible for sending them there.

It has been difficult to find hope in a country that continues to be so hateful towards some of us, but Warnock, a son of the south, making history in this way with such significant Black support reminds us that even racism can only go so far.

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