Thursday, November 18, 2010

Conservatives Don't "Get" Racism...Except They Do

For those assuming conservatives are just closeted KKK members, Adam Serwer sets 'em straight:

What's clear, though, is that conservatives deploy racially tinged rhetoric against liberal policy priorities and Democratic politicians, and that Obama being president has a lot to do with these arguments being used. Rush Limbaugh wouldn't be comparing him to gang members if he weren't black. With Clinton, Limbaugh's sexism, rather than his racism, would be amplified. So while it might be unfair to suggest people are conservatives because they're racists, it's entirely fair to ask why conservatives are comfortable with their most prominent ideological figure's casual use of racism as a political bludgeon.

There's another option here that guys like Serwer miss, which is that conservatives like Limbaugh use the attack that is most likely to enrage liberals. That's why he mocks environmentalists with chainsaw sound effects or feminists with the shrewish voices of their leaders (not to mention calling them "babes" constantly). The "casual use of racism" is simply a way of taunting liberals to explain why their fealty to a black president regardless of his abandonment of their treasured beliefs isn't racism itself.

Republicans know they'll be called racists no matter how carefully they construct their criticisms of Teh One. That's why comparing the POTUS to spraycan-wielding graffiti artists is both subtle and effective. And, in the comments, Tom Maguire completely destroys the author's argument that the word "gang" is only used against darker-skinned politicians.

If liberals spent less time being offended and searching for "dog whistles" from commentators, they might discover that their slide to obscurity is directly related to their policy proposals, not racist/sexism/otherism by the voters.