Beating the Racism Card
Obama is finished. It's not so much the past six weeks, rough as they were, as his own actions and responses that have finished him. His showdown with Congress over the debt limit, which he then ran away from. His bewilderment at the fact that markets responded to that level of stress with a serious slump. The lousy job numbers, which anybody but Obama and his kept economists could have predicted. His insistence on his precious vacation at a time when the country was deeply shaken over economic matters. The painfully bogus "people's hero" photos released in the wake of "hurricane" Irene. The uproar over his jobs speech, an attempt to embarrass the GOP which merely added to his reputation for incompetence. The speech itself. These were not the actions of a leader, a statesman, or even an adult. They will be neither forgiven nor forgotten.
It's hard to see how he recovers from any of this. (And this is not even to mention the unfolding Solyndra, LightSquared, and Fast and Furious scandals; add the AttackWatch debacle and my cup runneth over.) He has no shred of reputation left to build on, no reservoir of goodwill to draw from. His approval rate is 40% or below, a number no first-term president has ever come back from. According to Gallup, he is running effectively neck-and-neck with every GOP candidate, even exotics like Ron Paul, and the campaign has scarcely begun. The triumph of Bob Turner in NY-9, a district that hasn't voted Row B since glaciers covered Long Island, merely puts the seal on it.
At this point, he has only two possibilities -- a GOP screwup, or a dirty campaign.
The GOP looks promising. This, after all, is the party that allowed the entire MSNBC politburo to moderate its first debate. You can wrack your brains from now 'til Election Day for the rationale behind this, and you will get nowhere. An official explanation from the GOP national committee would produce something so 19th-century in nature as to be incomprehensible to a contemporary mentality.
All the same, the GOP, with its infuriating mixture of obtuseness, cleverness, and ability, cannot be depended on for certain failure. The Dems will have to look elsewhere.
So a dirty campaign it is. And we don't have to look far for the source of the muck. In fact, we don't have to look at all, since it has kindly made its way to us. This campaign is going to be about one thing: racism. No matter what else happens, racism will be the theme. If we are invaded by hive entities from Tau Ceti, if the economy collapses to the point of barter, if Yellowstone goes up as a supervolcano to rival the Toba Event, if the Archangel Gabriel appears in the east with blazing sword and announces that he's really a Muslim, the reason will be "racism." That is the alpha and omega of the 2012 campaign.
How can I say this with certainty? Because it's already happening. Consider Obama's adoption of the Rockwell painting "The Problem We all Live With" as a personal emblem. Consider the empty hysterics over Rick Perry's "black cloud" remark. Consider Andre Carson's claim that many of his congressional colleagues would like to lynch him. The whole thing was given official black cultural legitimacy with the appearance of an article in "The Root," AOL's black site, titled "Let's Face It: There's Only One Explanation for Some of the Attacks on President Obama."
If you are tired of this already, find a cave. We'll be hearing it to the point of insanity for the next fourteen months.
It is a remarkable thing, passing all logic, that the racism card has proven such a useful tool for American liberals. It's well-understood that the Democrats were the party of racism and the strongest force keeping segregation alive. Many of liberalism's grand heroes were not only racists, but crazy racists, obsessive, unbalanced, and cruel. Woodrow Wilson had blacks fired en masse from the Postal Service, where they had found an employment niche similar to that of the Irish with the police. He attempted the same with the Navy, where blacks had found a place as ship's stewards. (The Navy officially "obeyed," but kept most of them on surreptitiously. That's how shipmates behave.)
Millard Tydings is a liberal hero for opposing the monstrous Joe McCarthy. He was also a racist of the type who couldn't bear having a black individual enter the same room. Tailgunner Joe financed his defeat at the hands of a political neophyte who ran on a civil rights platform -- something the libs never see fit to mention.
While never die-hard crusaders for civil rights, the GOP did strive to act fairly when opportunity presented. It was Eisenhower who enforced the Brown decision in 1954, and it was Eisenhower who attempted to pass a civil rights bill in 1956, which went down to defeat at the hands of the segregationist Dixiecrats. When the Democrats did get around to offering a civil rights bill eight years later, it was Republican minority leader Everett Dirksen who got the bill passed after liberal Democrat Hubert Humphrey failed.
This is the outfit that has set itself up as judge, jury, and lord high executioner of American racists. Which means simply "Americans," since the vast majority of them, like Rick Perry, the GOP rank and file, and the Tea Party members, are not racists at all.
A recent incident reveals the power of the accusation. During the 2006 senatorial campaign, George Allen of Virginia was being stalked by a Democratic operative wearing a circa-1982 punk-band mohawk. Allen took to mocking him, and at one point called him "macaca." Well, it turned out that this was considered racist by some authoritative sources. Allen said -- and there's no reason to doubt it -- that he got the term from his mother, who had spent her early years in an African colony where the word was in wide use. While never explained by the press, it's likely that it was derived from "macaque," a species of monkey, and would describe any mischievous or obnoxious individual. But that made no difference, nor did the fact that the kid in question was Hindu, and thus just as much a Cauc as Allen, myself, George Washington, or Willy McGilly.
Allen lost heavily to James "Gunslinger" Webb, whose platform claimed that George W. Bush was a war criminal, and who soon after the election revealed himself as one of the most unbalanced members of any recent Congress -- there was a strange contretemps involving an illegal pistol and the suicide of an aide that was never adequately unwound. Webb is not running for reelection, and that is a good thing.
But the accusation was effective, which is why it was used. So the question arises -- how to deprive it of that effect?
Absurdity usually limits the force of this kind of thing (as it did with the wilder claims of feminism), but for reasons I don't fully understand, this factor is not operative where race is concerned. Accusations of racism have the same impact no matter how asinine, irrelevant, or ridiculous they may be. Considers two of the latest. A TV commercial for a Dove soap product was yanked off the air amid widespread wailing over the return of Jim Crow. The ad showed three women washing their faces one after the other -- a black woman, a Latina, and a white woman. Apparently we were supposed to take this as meaning that Dove soap bleaches brown skin -- I mean, what else could it be? You don't think they were just selling soap, do you?
The same thing occurred with an ad for some kind of Nivea grooming product which showed clean-cut males racing out and tossing away obviously fake caveman-style heads, bearded and shaggy, with slogans about "recivilizing yourself." One model was white, the other black, and since he was black, that meant -- well, I don't know what it meant, but it had to be something bad.
Note that in both cases, the ad companies were simply trying to live up to the unwritten rule of Always Showing Minorities as Prominently as Whites. In other words, in bending over backwards not to appear racist, the advertisers wound up appearing racist. This is the essence of totalitarian thought control: you cannot win, you cannot remain aloof, you cannot get out of the game.
That being the case, the game board must be broken, the pieces scattered, and the rules burnt. What do we find when we analyze the response to such accusations? Almost without exception, victims break and run. At best, an abject apology is offered. At worst, the victim retreats from public life. That was George Allen's response -- after a bout of public groveling, he effectively ceased campaigning (and he's been lying low in this year's campaign as well). Some of us will recall the "niggardly" case of a few years back, when use of the word in the presence of a black bureaucrat resulted in his stalking off in a huff. The guilty party (a white bureaucrat) knew what was required of him and resigned immediately.
A more recent case (which has not yet hit national media, thankfully) occurred in New Jersey a few weeks ago when the wife of GOP state representative Pat Delany sent a stupid and ill-thought-out e-mail to Carl Lewis, currently running for state senate, accusing him of using his "dark skin" as a ticket to political success. (In fact, Lewis is probably thinking more of his athletic record.) When the message was made public, Delany immediately resigned. Why? We all know why, even though we couldn't explain it. In a reasonable world, Delany would state that he and his wife were going to straighten the matter out, apologize to Lewis, and that would be the end of it. But that's not this world. Delany knew the script as closely as Allen and the niggardly bureaucrat, and he meekly went along with it.
Compare this to Rick Perry, who was accused of calling Barack Obama a "black cloud" -- fightin' words if any ever existed. Perry responded with the absolute obliviousness of a Texan holding four aces, and the accusation simply evaporated. Obviously neither the media nor the CEOs of the grievance industry thought they'd get anywhere with a man who shoots his own coyotes.
This tells us how to handle these accusations. You don't go along with the script. The script is there to humiliate and destroy, and that is all. Instead, you defy it. Stand up to the accusers and run them off. Since their only power comes from numbers, use numbers against them. The next time an attack occurs during this campaign (as it inevitably will, and probably aimed at Perry), all the candidates must stand as one against the accusers. (All except Huntsman, of course, who might be making the accusation.) The candidates, through public media statements, must make clear their full support of the intended victim. No weasel-wording, no equivocation, no ambiguity. A general statement, signed by all of them, should then be released, presenting a succinct and logical argument as to why such accusations are unacceptable, with each swearing that he or she will stand by the others in any such situation, and ending with a condemnation by name of the accuser.
This can be taken further by conservative columnists, bloggers, and talk-show hosts. The accuser(s) should be keelhauled. The goal will be to make them as miserable as they intended their victims to be, which would act as a form of aversion therapy, forcing them to think twice and then three times about ever pulling the same trick again. (Need I add that the process would also prove valuable in cases involving Congress, industry, state politicians, media, and anywhere else such accusations may arise?)
What will happen is that the accusers will retreat. They are bullies, and that is what bullies do. (Even Andre Carson, a blowhard and loudmouth of the first order, has thought better of his "lynching" comment.) The media will give the GOP candidates all the publicity any pol could want. The GOP voters will go wild. Any further accusations will be unlikely, a benefit to all candidates equally. It would mean a cleaner campaign, an easier victory, and who knows? Perhaps even a step toward a more civil society.
For too long, too many blacks have wallowed in their own private sumps of self-pity, collapsing into whimpers every time somebody mentions blackmail, blackouts, or black markets. It's a pathetic epilogue to the heroism and grandeur of the civil rights movement. It's past time this adolescent posturing was put aside.
It will take some effort to accomplish this. (We'll refer only to the fact that the current incumbent has made no such effort whatsoever.) But the black grievance-hunters are no better than the Dixiecrats of old, using the same methods to keep Americans on edge, in fear, and overcome with anxiety. Using racism for political gain is a cheap and coarse tactic no matter who is involved. It needs to be ended.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.