Addicted to Race
The left’s long twilight struggle against imaginary bigotry
Oct 22, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 06 • By NOEMIE EMERY
Until then, some on the left will stay with this ship till it goes down completely, as their reasons for clinging are strong. First of all, it’s a nice little racket, creating employment for sensitivity trainers, diversity counselors, race theory scholars, and other superfluous vendors of unneeded products. Second, it’s fun for the Democrats, who like telling minorities that Republicans want to burn churches, lynch people, and otherwise see them in chains. Third, and perhaps most important, it’s a self-esteem drug for a whole class of people, who seem to find their raison d’être in the belief that they are not only more cool and more hip than their opposition, but also more noble at heart. This is an addiction they aren’t up to breaking and a habit they will not kick soon.
In the meantime, we must bear in mind that the liberals’ racist fixation rests on illusions of various sorts. First is their theory that they alone among mortals have rare and evolved clairvoyant powers that allow them, perhaps like The Shadow, to look into other men’s minds. But what they find in them is just what they put there: It was Maureen Dowd who heard the word “boy” when she thought of Obama; it was Timothy Noah who could not stop thinking, “He’s black!” when he looked at Obama; it’s the MSNBC people whose hearing is tuned to discern all the dog whistles. Who else besides Lawrence O’Donnell hears “PGA tour” as code for “deep-rooted white insecurities about black male sexuality” as Mark Steyn asked? To all of this there is one answer: Next time a liberal tells you he looked into your mind and found out you’re a racist, tell him you looked into his mind and found out that he’s nuts.
While claiming to see and to hear things that aren’t there, liberals appear deaf and blind to things that are there, insisting Republicans are the party of angry old white men, frightened of change and modernity, obsessed with the loss of their status and power, who wage endless war upon immigrants, women, and blacks. Two things about this deserve further notice: that these diversity gains were Tea Party-driven and came from the most maligned (and most conservative) wing of the party, and second, while Democrats draw more votes from blacks, Hispanics, and women (and have more delegates and more elected officials); the Republicans have far more state office holders, potential presidents, and future political stars. Liberals can call conservatives wrong on a number of issues, but they can’t call them bigots. This is one case that is closed.
The race addicts are also hypocrites, and this gives the great game away. Their keen ears are deaf to a whole range of insults: No one hears dog whistles blow in the direction of black conservatives, black moderates, or any blacks (or Hispanics, or women) not wholly embraced by the left. No complaints came from the dog-whistle-industrial-complex when Clarence Thomas was portrayed as a lawn jockey, or Condi Rice depicted in cartoons by white and male liberals as a parrot, a pickaninny, and Prissy in Gone With the Wind. No such complaints came a few months ago when Rep. Allen West was depicted in a campaign ad by his white opponent as sporting a gold tooth while beating a series of winsome blonde women.
For the perfect example of how this all works in practice, let us look to the transcript of Hardball for its program of August 15, just after the clean and articulate Vice President Biden had used a faux-Southern accent to tell a largely black audience that a Republican proposal on financial regulations would “put y’all back in chains.” The program was devoted to disputing the claim that the phrase “put y’all back in chains” was a slavery reference. “Is shackles any different than chains?” asked host Chris Matthews. “The Republicans . . . have been using the word ‘shackled.’ . . . Can you build a war, a civil war over that?” Guest Howard Fineman was eager to help him.
Certainly not, Fineman assured him. “Joe Biden was trying to be charming Joe Biden, and he made a mistake there, clearly. But the Romney campaign’s motive in putting attention on it is not to cleanse the campaign of any racial reference, it’s probably just the opposite. If they can stir up arguments about race . . . they’re only too happy to do so.” When Republicans complained about Biden’s rhetoric they were “shining light on the race issue. You want to bring up race. You want to talk about it. If you didn’t, you would have let it go.”
Got it? When Joe Biden talks about slavery, it’s proof that Republicans are race-baiting. This is how corrupt the Keep Race Alive movement has gotten. Treat it with the contempt it deserves.
Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a columnist for the Washington Examiner.