Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Don’t Race-Card Me, Bro!

Original Link: http://jay1949.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/dont-race-card-me-bro/

Just as the 2004 Presidential election spawned the term “Swiftboating,” the 2008 election will produce its own distinctive political neologism: “Race-carding.” Here’s my proposed definition:

Race-Carding - - n. - - To use one’s race aggressively in order to silence or intimidate a political opponent by accusing the opponent of racism.

Now Obama has dealt the first race card in the general campaign - - a big one, since it was dealt to the entire Republican Party - - at a fund-raiser in Florida this past Friday, June 20. His remarks included the following:

It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy. We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?

I have repeatedly expressed my astonishment that Obama succeeded in race-carding Bill Clinton. That’s William Jefferson Clinton, formerly President of the United States, the same guy who was, until recently, called the “first black President.” When he was race-carded in New Hampshire, I thought, naively, that this was an aberration. When it happened again in South Carolina I realized it was planned, calculated, and effective. I was astonished that the slack-jawed, gaping “journalists” of the national press simply accepted the Obama campaign’s race-carding and dutifully reported that dumb ol’ Bill Clinton had hurt Hillary’s chances again.

Then there are the exit polls indicating that some 10% to 20% of voters consider race to be a “factor” in the election. This somewhat ambiguous result was played up by the press in the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries, but has been found to some extent everywhere. Of course, the assumption that voters so responding are racists who are voting against Obama is unjustified; some of those folks may be voting for Obama because of his race. Conservative black Republican J. C. Watts, a former Congressman, is among those considering voting for Obama because he is black. Is J. C. Watts a “racist?” I really don’t think so, and not for the academic pinhead reasons employed to excuse actual black racism. Rather, I think Watts is making an ethnocentric choice (perhaps it would be better to coin a new term and call it “ethno-preferent”): he is voting for Obama because he shares a common cultural background and experience with him. Ethnocentrism (ethnopreference) is not racism; it lacks the element of ill-treatment or malice that the term “racism” connotes; to the substantial extent that it plays a role in transmission of cultural values, moreover, ethnocentrism is a positive force.

Also, there is the flip side of the exit poll finding, which the press and pundits generally seem to have missed: that 80% to 90% of those asked did not consider race to be a factor in the election. This seems to me to be a considerable improvement over what such a survey would have revealed fifty years ago. If there is some balancing out of those who do consider race to be a factor - - influencing some to vote against Obama and others to vote for him - - then it seems that race, as such, is not all that important in this election. Or shouldn’t have been.

I have been following the Presidential election for over a year now; I have read thousands of articles, editorials, blog posts, and comments. I may have missed something on the fringes, but basically I have observed that the only person making Obama’s race an issue is Barack Obama.

Now, I have a news flash for Barack Obama: it’s not your race that scares me; it’s your cavalier attitude toward terrorists and their sponsors. It’s not the color of your skin that alarms me; it’s your plans for a Machiavellian energy policy. It’s not your ethnic identity that concerns me; it’s the ease with which you disseminate, hide, evade, and, when it suits you, cast away your friends, mentors, and sponsors. I cringe at the thought that you may be making appointments to the Supreme Court, sponsoring a ruinous health care plan, boosting taxes in ways which will discourage investment . . . heck, Barack, there are so many reasons I prefer John McCain that I don’t even get to race; if you were caucasian, or oriental, or Native American, and were otherwise the same left-wing narcissistic political opportunist, I’d still be campaigning for McCain.

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