It comes as no surprise that Robert Black (“Lamar Democrat chair paints wrong picture of GOP, Christians,” Feb. 11) would take exception to my editorial (“Founders separated church, state for good reason,” Feb. 7), in which I pointed out that white racist groups like the KKK, white nationalist groups and evangelical Christians are among former President Donald Trump’s strongest supporters. Poll after poll confirms this, and virtually all of these groups are strongest in Republican-controlled states.

Black infers that because I quoted Texas GOP Party Chair Lt. Col. Allen West’s comments about mail-in ballots being a source of voter fraud, a claim that is part the Republican Party’s extensive efforts at voter suppression, was an attempt to link West to the KKK. Clearly, Black people are not welcome in the KKK, even if they share an authoritarian viewpoint, and the fact that he infers that hints at recognition of the fact that relatively few Black people have cast their lot with the GOP while white nationalist groups are welcome. Although there were a few people of color among the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, they amounted to less than 1%. The most visibly present groups were white nationalists like the Proud Boys and the 3 Percenters.

Mr. Black then trots out the indisputable fact that the majority of KKK members in the 19th and 20th centuries were members of the Democratic Party. What he fails to acknowledge is that following the Lee Atwater/Richard Nixon “Southern strategy,” all the old Dixiecrats became Republicans, lured by the thinly veiled racism of the appeal that arose in response to voting rights that were expanded under civil rights legislation. Lyndon B. Johnson and other Southern Democratic leaders accurately predicted this shift. Racist southern Democrats became racist Republicans.

Am I claiming that all Republicans are overt racists? Absolutely not, but the fact is that most of us are beneficiaries of systemic racism and are mostly unaware of the impact. That said, it is not an accident that in every Trump parade there are plenty of Confederate battle flags.

As for the comments about evangelical Christians, I was simply repeating the words of other fundamentalist/evangelical ministers and theologians who decry the politicization and imbedded systemic racism of their faiths. When folks are in dense woods, they literally can’t see the forest for the trees.

As for Mr. Black’s inference that I implied that whites and Blacks worship different Gods, that is, to put it plainly, horse hockey. In fact, I believe that not only all races, but all religions worship the same God. We are separated by cultural and dogmatic beliefs, not by the reality of the One God. As one wise man put it: “A religious person will do or believe what he is told no matter what is right. A spiritual person will do what he believes is right no matter what he is told.” It is no accident that the fastest growing group in America is the “spiritual but not religious.”

I’m glad to know that Mr. Black eschews the KKK. Too bad his party continues to accept those who are openly white nationalist.

Gary O’Connor is chairman of the Lamar County Democratic Party.

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