1. On the childish "boycott" idea, I personally don't care whether people jump into these political threads or not. It's completely the option of everybody here to participate to whatever extent they want on the board, whether it's in on-topic or off-. I do the political stuff for exactly the same reasons Mike suggests -- but of course the inverse. And, from the earliest days in this country, robust political debate is one of the central things our legal framework is set up to protect. It's one of the greatest gifts our Constitution gives, for it allows us the freedom to think and to test our ideas.
So I say again, for those who can't take it, don't do it. Nobody's forcing you. But don't expect me to sit quietly by while you throw your wingnut ideas out here as gospel. Don't forget: those things that hurt, instruct.
2. Back to the thread topic, this whole debate began as an attempt to process Harry Reid's remarks. Were they "racist" or not? Ultimately, as we compared the examples people could find, I posited that the GOP is the last major party providing safe haven for racists in this country. I continue to believe that (at enormous tactical cost) LBJ destroyed the "Dixiecrats" (and, Mike, the moniker still stuck to them in the mid-60's) with the Civil Rights legislation and, precisely because of those laws, racists promptly deserted the Democratic party in the South. My thesis is intact. Civil rights activists are overwhelmingly Democrats. Racists are overwhelmingly Republicans.
Remember, I explicitly said that not all Republicans were racists. Many of those who aren't live in the north and west, where the cultural vestiges of the old South are completely irrelevant. And, of course, there are always a few outliers in any party, so Dems aren't completely immune. But the fact is that, structurally, racism in the South moved from the ruins of the Dixiecrats to the GOP very quickly after the Civil Rights laws, and the political parties have been locked in that cultural struggle ever since. There simply is no place in Democratic politics for racism while I would argue that it still is a tacit subtext within the GOP, particularly in the South. It showed itself in 2005 during the immigration debate, where even Bush and McCain couldn't bring the GOP into line, and it shows itself now in the vitriolic hate speech about Obama, the intense heat surrounding which can't be explained simply by "policy differences."
But it's a dangerous course for the GOP. The immigration debacle cost the GOP every Latino group but the Cubans, and they'll remember it for a generation. And young people just aren't a demographic where racism will sell. Until it's exorcised, racism will inexorably shrink the party.
So Republicans better be careful trying to pin racism on the Harry Reids and Joe Bidens of the world. Because there's danger lurking behind that door: the closer one looks at the question, the worse the answer gets for the GOP.