It is the ninth month of the year 2009 of the reign of what was supposed to be our post-racial administration, and racism is a more common topic than ever. Where before racism applied to individuals, now opposing government policies has itself become a racist act.
At the New York Times, Maureen Dowd wrote, "what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!" Which is a lot like the patient who studies a series of Rorschach ink blots and comes up with increasingly racist interpretations of them. When the psychiatrist finally calls him on it, he exclaims, "I'm prejudiced? You're the one with all the racist cartoons!"
When the collective wisdom of the liberal media finds racism where there isn't any, it's fair to ask whether the racism they're finding is imaginary or in their own heads. And by fair, of course I mean it's unacceptably racist. But that's the kind of polarization that living in a black and white world gets you. You're either racist or you're not. And the only way to not be a racist is to be a visibly condescending liberal who makes a point of talking about how much of a racist he or she isn't.
Political correctness has spent a long time defining liberalism, and the attitudes that go with it, as the opposite of racism. The result is a thermometer that instead of running from -40 to 50 degrees Celsius, instead runs from liberal to racist. The more liberal you are, the less racist you can be judged as. The less liberal you are, the more likely you are to be considered a racist. Actual racist content has very little to do with it, or an ex-President from Georgia who called Obama a "black boy" would not be trotted out to denounce an Obama opponent as a racist in the first place. Nor would a Klansman on the Democratic side of the aisle still be sitting in the Senate.
So Maureen Dowd who couldn't hear Jimmy Carter say "black boy" when he did, heard Joe Wilson say, "boy", when he didn't. Because it's not what you actually say that counts, but what the New York Times columnists and op ed writers decide you really meant. Accordingly Ex-Klansman Senator Byrd's use of a racial slur was completely harmless, while a Tea Party protester condemning deficit spending is a bigot. It's not the crime of bigotry that we're dealing with here, but the thoughtcrime. The thing which your opponents, who conveniently enough happened to be the New York Times columnists and op ed writers, think you really meant.
What we are talking about then is actual prejudice and bigotry vs political racism or the race card. Actual bigots spout racial slurs, discriminate against, abuse and assault people for their race or national or religious background. Political bigotry by contrast is the modern day version of the witchhunt that involves denouncing someone you don't like as a racist or a witch.
When denouncing someone for political bigotry, you don't actually need to get your facts straight. You don't even need any facts. All you need is a vague feeling that he probably might and could very well be bigoted, as proven by your politically correct seventh sense tingling with the warning that there's a "boy" at the end of his sentence. It was the classic Soviet way of doing things. And it still works.
Before Democrats had been forced to subsist on borrowed Mau-Mauing. Today with Obama in the White House it has become childishly easy to condemn anyone in the opposition for racism. After all they're in the opposition, and why would they be in the opposition... unless they had problems with a black man in the White House? This kind of reductio ad absurdum racial argument has become the default party line when dealing with political opponents. "There's only one possible reason they could oppose our wholly reasonable political program, because they're racists."
Democrats had spent eight years calling Bush a liar. Eight years. But calling Obama a liar is now a hate crime. Drawing a cartoon of him is a hate crime. Attending a rally protesting his policies is of course a hate crime. Voting while Republican is also naturally a hate crime. Essentially being on the opposite side of Obama has become a hate crime, by the convenient logical trick of presuming that Obama is equivalent to all black people, and that therefore opposition to him is equivalent to opposing all black people.
Taking that argument to the next level, since Obama is also half-white, anyone black or white who opposes him, is a bigot. And FDR's opponents probably just hated disabled people. JFK's opponents hated the Irish. And Al Gore lost the election, because Joe Lieberman was Jewish. While there's humor in that absurdity, there is also the ominous stench of dictatorship.
It's Un-American to ban political dissent, unless you define all political dissent as bigotry. And next thing you know, your secret ballot has been determined to make you a statistically probable candidate for domestic terrorism. After all it's just a small hop from not wanting a government boondoggle of a health care program to being a racist to blowing up FBI buildings. That's the way liberal logic runs and that's who runs the Justice Department now.
We have now entered the golden post-racial age in which it is proof positive of racism to call a politician a liar. So long as the politician is a democrat and of a race different than yours. Yet if anything 2008 proved that Americans were willing and even eager to vote for a black man. But 2008 did not birth the post-racial society, it was there for a long time already.
That isn't to say that prejudice is dead. Most human beings have their prejudices, acknowledged and unacknowledged, which is what gives liberal accusations of racism such power. But most people also have long ago put aside those prejudices when it comes to working, going to school, living side by side with, and yes voting into office. We have been living in a post-racial country for some time now. The old divisions have the most power when interested parties begin playing them like an organ, because for all their talk about overcoming prejudice they are determined that we go on living in a black and white world, because it suits them. Because it gives them power.
The opposition to Obama has not come over racial issues, with only the exception in the Gates case. It has come over political issues, over the key question of how much power government can wield over people. It is in the interests of those wielding that power to frame the question as a racial one, rather than a political one, in order to delegitimize those daring to ask the question. It is in their interest to play the race card, because then instead of being forced to explain their misconduct, they can successfully force their critics to account for that invisible "boy" at the end of a sentence.
Criticizing the government is not a hate crime, being suspicious of politicians is a great American tradition and the essence of democracy, and opposing Obama is not a hate crime. Much as the talking heads and the op ed writers may try to spin dissent as racism, dissent is not racism, it is simply dissent. Without the right to dissent, there would be no civil rights movement. Without the right to dissent, there will be no America.