How the Christian Nationalist Version of ‘The American Story’ Enabled Georgia’s Anti-Black Voter Restriction Law [Audio]

Last week, Georgia Republicans passed a radical new law designed, as the New York Times put it, “to restrict voting access in the state.” The bill, which some have referred to as Jim Crow 2.0 for the disproportionate effect it will have on Black voters, was signed by a white governor surrounded by six white men beneath a painting of a former slave plantation. 

In this exclusive three-minute clip from the March 26 episode of Straight White American Jesus, hosts Bradley Onishi and Daniel Miller discuss the mindset that enables such blatantly anti-democratic and racist policy. RD will be collaborating with SWAJ to regularly bring you exclusive audio clips and transcripts on Christian nationalism, “conversion therapy,” purity culture, and more, all of which can be found here. — eds


Bradley Onishi: Here’s what happened in Georgia. A lot of people of color got together and they thwarted what seemed to be an insurmountable white Christian nationalist majority. They helped to vote out Trump. They elected a Black man and a Jewish man to the Senate.

They flip the Senate in the process. And so guess what we’re going to do? Scorched earth. We are going to restrict voting in any way we have to. Even if that means putting people who are offering folks in line water or arresting one of the few Black women in a very public and very open ‘perp walk‘ after she did nothing else but knock on the door to the governor’s office.

Dan Miller: Unfortunately I guess, especially in Georgia, you can add ‘legislating while Black’ to the list of things that white supremacy will have you arrested for if you’re a person of color in the country.

It’s easy for people to look at this and say like, when they say that it’s Jim Crow in a suit and tie as if it’s hyperbole, right. And this is one of the benefits of the way that… the white supremacists and white nationalists and Christian nationalists have told the American story, right? Is they take things that they opposed in the past that are now a lost cause, and then act as if they were great ideas and they achieved everything that needed to be achieved.

So all the people that hated MLK [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] when MLK was alive and was active and so forth, once it’s clear the impact that he had on the countryand obviously not just MLK, but everything’s sort of attached to the African-American Civil Rights Movementyou now say, Oh, well, man, that was really important that that happened. I’m glad that’s behind us. Right? And: glad we’re not racist anymore. Or you take a president in Barack Obama whom you hated because he’s Black and how dare a Black man rise above himself to become president of the United States. But now that he is: hey, we’re in a post-racial society, right?

Like: how can you, how can you argue we’re racist? We had a Black president, you know, so that when you go on to do things like this, it becomes sort of conceptually impossible that it could be raised. Like: we’re post-racial how can you possibly say that this is racist, right?

We do that under… how can you possibly call me, a Georgia legislator, racist for supporting this or Jim Crow when we know that Jim Crow’s in the past, and it was a terrible mistake and we need to stop talking about it and focusing on it so much, right? We get this notion that it’s hyperbole, but the other metaphor for this is the proverbial frog in the pot of water, right? That you just slowly increase the temperature, and by the time the frog realizes he’s in trouble it’s way too late. That’s kind of how this works and that’s, that’s where we are.

And just an example of this, that, that notion that uninformed voters shouldn’t be able to vote; setting aside the issue that people will dismiss, like real civics lessons is not being, you know patriotic enough or whatever, I’ve just asked people to compare that to literacy tests. Right, like one of the most sort of classic emblematic notions of even before Jim Crow, but then after Reconstruction and all of that with Jim Crow literacy tests. If you can’t read, you can’t vote. Well now it’s like, if you can’t give the right civics answers or something like that, you’re not going to be able to vote.