When Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville's promoted a racist narrative about Black people and crime at a campaign rally Saturday, it outraged civil rights leaders and many political pundits, who condemned them as out-of-bounds.
“He's just contributing to dialogue that we've been hearing for decades, I would even say for centuries,” said Tina Harris, the endowed chair of Race, Media, and Cultural Literacy at Louisiana State University.
Weeks before the midterms, the fallout from Tuberville's incendiary remarks has drawn condemnation from critics as Republicans push to spotlight crime ahead of the elections.
Many Republicans responded with a collective shrug this week with either silence or, as in the case of Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., a tepid pushback...
Andrew Thompson, an assistant professor of political science at the George Washington University, said U.S. politicians have a long history of using coded racial messaging.
He said crime is often associated with people of color in the minds of white voters. But that by combining those anxieties with reparations, it is hard for supporters to deny Tuberville was trying to activate and motivate certain reactions from a mostly white audience.
“The mention of reparations, it’s pretty clearly targeting Black Americans,” he said.