Carman: When Republicans talk about crime, the real message of bigotry comes through loud and clear

Woke, a term that for generations was associated with the struggle for civil rights, has been transformed into a profane epithet.

The election is only a couple weeks away, and the racist messages that have become a tradition in Republican election campaigns are reaching a crescendo right on cue.

On the national stage, we have Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville explicitly equating descendants of slaves with criminals and saying Democrats are “pro-crime.” 

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has attacked his Black opponent, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, for his support for ending cash bail, calling him a “dangerous Democrat” and darkening his skin for emphasis in campaign materials. 

Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, meanwhile, embraced racist White supremacist rhetoric on the campaign trail, saying “5 million illegal aliens are on the verge of replacing you ….”

At the same time, Lamborn and way too many of his Republican buddies vilify as “woke” efforts to create respect across racial and gender differences in such places as schools, corporations, workplaces and, specifically, the U.S. Air Force Academy. 

The term “woke” goes back to the 1940s. It was used in the Black community to describe people who were aware of the racial prejudice and injustice in our culture.

In the 1960s, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the “great challenge” to “remain awake” throughout the revolution of the Civil Rights Movement.

In the weeks, months and years after the murder of George Floyd, demonstrators worried that the injustices that had come so much to the fore would recede from public attention and once again be ignored. Millions around the world were awakened to systemic racism by that horrific crime.

Given our history, we all should have realized that a vicious backlash to the awakening to injustice would follow, demonizing anyone who would seek racial and gender justice and equity.