It's an old song, with a few new words thrown in, those of "political correctness". For a lot of people in the United States, the words "conservatives" and "Republicans" evoke the notion of "a bunch of racists". This is unfair to some extent, but the reason why this association has come about is because of the use of loaded words as a euphemistic shorthand for racist ideas. It dates back, in modern times, to 1948.

South Carolina governor J. Strom Thurmond ran for president, as the nominee of something called the "States Rights Party", a group of Southern Democrats who split from the party over the issue of civil rights championed by newer leaders like Hubert H. Humphrey. While there were elaborate arguments about defending the constitutionally-granted rights of states to handle legislation in those areas not explicitly deemed as a federal responsibility, what the SRP wanted was the right to uphold segregation. They were quickly dubbed the Dixiecrats. "States' rights", when used in debate, had nothing to do with some exalted purist reading of the Constitution - it was just shorthand for "I want to preserve the Jim Crow status quo". Even the federal government's passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 60s failed to totally take the wind from those sails. Now these were Democrats, and this was an intramural matter - why are the Republicans called racists? Next paragraph, please.

The civil-rights wing eventually won this argument, and this left a large chunk of Southern Democrats feeling abandoned by their party. Kevin Phillips, one of (Republican) Richard Nixon's advisors in 1968, devised the "Southern Strategy": play to those disgruntled Dixiecrat votes. George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, was also doing this, as a third-party candidate, but he was a lone wolf of sorts, in that he didn't represent a full-blooded political party. If Nixon could garner a decent amount of support from this alienated segment of the electorate, the Republican Party, longtime also-rans in the South, perhaps due to their original 19th-Century roots as the "Party of Lincoln", an anti-slavery party, could establish a base in the region. While Governor Wallace made a strong showing in '68, Nixon did indeed steal some of his thunder, doing well in the South, and winning the election. A similar "Southern Strategy" by Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980 (adding the evangelical Christian segment of that electorate as well) led to his election, and to the current strong standing of Republicans in that region of the US.

An aside: the Republicans' success in establishing that Southern base can be seen today, with much of the party leadership in recent years coming from those former Confederate states: Newt Gingrich, from Georgia, Tom DeLay and Dick Armey from Texas (home state of George W. Bush as well), Trent Lott from Mississippi. Dennis Hastert, the current Speaker of the House, is from Ohio, but it is thought that DeLay is the real GOP leader in the House of Representatives.

Another loaded word came up in those Nixon years, related to the Southern Strategy: busing, or "forced busing". After the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, calling for the desegregation of public schools, one remedy in practice by the late 60s was forced busing, often elaborate schemes for sending school kids far from their neighborhood schools, so that each school in the school system (a school system sometimes brought about by the merger of a predominantly-white school system with a predominantly-black one) had roughly the same proportion of minority enrollment. Nixon, with his newfound support in the South, tried to play to the anti-busing audience for a while, trying to slow down some the progress of school desegregation. (And it turned out to be not just a Southern issue - busing in Boston became a big issue a few years later, and the Reagan 1980 campaign would build their base of Reagan Democrats by applying a modified Southern Strategy to Northern states). There are certainly good arguments against sending buses hither and yon, but "busing" was a loaded word back then, and being anti-busing was a politician's way of giving a nudge and a wink to a racist audience.

After the rise of affirmative action there rose another code word: "quotas". Again, there are certainly many good arguments against certain implementations of affirmative action, but invoking the name of quotas usually wasn't about making reasoned arguments. The famous "White Hands" ad, in the close senatorial race between incumbent Republican Jesse Helms and (black) Charlotte ex-mayor Harvey Gantt, an ad from the Helms campaign that saturated the airwaves in the latter part of the election, featured just a closeup of a pair of male, caucasian hands at a desk, holding some notice from a prospective employer, IIRC, saying that he'd been passed over as a candidate for the job in favor of a member of a visible minority (presumably a black person). All because of "job quotas". Once the man finishes reading the letter, he crumples it in his white hands. Helms galvanized his voter base, and won the election pretty handily.

This node was brought about because of one called White pride is hateful, black pride is not, this was a hard link created by Justin Johnson, and a nodeshell created by Jet-Poop. The notion of using "white pride" or "white _____" as loaded code words came, perhaps, from David Duke, who also popularized "white power" as an antidote or counterweight to "black power". Again, there are good arguments for Duke's use of these little advertising slogans: what's wrong with having pride in yourself and your roots? But we don't exist in a vacuum. "White _____" was always one of those nudge-and-wink things, and no person can claim to be serious or intelligent while championing, in any way, either the intent or the "fairness" of a "white pride" march. To champion this is either naive or trolling. An oppressed minority saying "_____ power" is not equivalent in any way to a member of an oppressing majority saying "_____ power"; the former is fighting its way out of a longstanding majority-enforced inferiority complex, while the latter is simply trolling. We don't live in some ideal vacuum that would make the two expressions equivalent.

A recent issue is the boycott against all things South Carolinian, due to the state's flying of a confederate flag on its capitol building, IIRC. (Yes, I failed to watch "Know Your Current Events"). This is a both an issue dating back to the civil rights days, and a "pride" issue. The flag of the Confederate States of America, the "stars and bars", was actually one of several flags used by those states that seceded from the US over the issue of slavery (leading to that country's Civil War). And, even back then, circa 1860, I'm sure many explanations for seceding from the union failed to mention the word "slavery" - but the advocacy was implicit in any explanation.

With the rise of militant pro-segregation sentiments in the later civil rights era, it became fashionable again to fly the stars-and-bars in some form or another; Southern state governments and individuals alike flew the flag (or a variant), or attached stickers and decals to their vehicles, practices that continue to this day. It can be, and is, couched often in rhetoric of "pride in one's roots", or "honoring those who fought in the Civil War", but it also evokes the years of Faubus, Wallace, and Thurmond doing their damnedest to keep Jim Crow fully functional. And that latter-day subtext is usually also the intended text. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

And there are those constituencies, pro and con, that hear the words "welfare reform" as "let's stick it to them lazy niggers", regardless of the merits, if any, of this or that piece of reform legislation. There's no escaping it, in this era of sound bites, subtexts, and shorthand.

DMan, not being a native of the US, may have some claim to ignorance of US history, so I'd like to cut him some slack for his cheerleading of what is, in effect, a little trolling game played by a gang at Cornell University, a well-heeled gang, I'm sure, but a gang nonetheless. Bringing in tales of the Hans is irrelevant here - we're talking about the symbolism of centuries of racism in the United States, and the use of American symbols by politicians, in order to pander to still-present racist sentiment. I would urge DMan to stick to Chinese issues until he gains some deeper and more mature knowledge of American ones.

I'm not a member of the Nodeshell Rescue Team :)