The elevation of Thomas Farr to a lifelong appointment to the federal courts says a lot about the Republican Party. They’re rewarding a man who unabashedly participated in making voting more difficult for African-Americans. They’re sending a signal that there is no penalty for using racist politics and they’re continuing to white wash the history of North Carolina. They have no interest in the type of racial healing that our country still needs.
Farr was a part of Jesse Helms’ political machine, an organization that used voter intimidation as a political tool and used racial stereotypes and dog whistles as wedge issues throughout his political career. He was also the lawyer who defended the “monster” voter suppression bill that Republicans passed in North Carolina in 2013 and was struck down for targeting black voters with surgical precision. Farr and the GOP deny he’s racist but if they can’t see why he’s offensive to African-Americans, then they have a disturbingly narrow perspective on American society and history.
Make no mistake. Thomas Farr’s nomination was a big FU to the African-American community, pouring salt onto still festering wounds. There are plenty of conservative lawyers in North Carolina that Trump could have nominated, but he chose Farr. Support from Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis shows a lack of empathy and denial about the state’s racial history.
The move also explains why Trump can maintain such a high approval rating among Republicans. They’re willing to accept repugnant behavior if it advances their conservative principles. It’s a Machiavellian approach to politics that’s defined the politics of the South for generations and now defines the Republican Party nationally.
As the GOP grew out of the one-party South, country club Republicans in cities like Charlotte and Raleigh turned a blind eye to racial discrimination in exchange for smaller government, lower taxes and less regulation. They’ve pretended not to hear the dog whistles to the segregationists and former Klansmen in their midst. Instead, they point out the conservative values of the people they elect and appoint.
Now, at a time when white supremacists are feeling empowered and hate crimes are on the rise, Trump nominates, and Senate Republicans support, a man who promoted racially divisive tactics and supported policies that adversely affect black voters in North Carolina. Republicans in Congress are very concerned about Trump’s trade policies, but have little concern about the perspective of African-Americans. That, in a nutshell, is the GOP today.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >