Update: NMI published this column today, September 27, 2009. Original post (written September 21) below:
You’re all racists — that was to have been the title of my New Mexico Independent column today. But about an hour after I submitted it, I received an e-mail from my new editor (my previous editor, David Alire Garcia, having left not only the New Mexico Independent, but New Mexico as well, to my great sadness) at NMI announcing that she was calling a temporary moratorium on columns about race because the comments on recent columns have become so incendiary.
Even though the editor of the New Mexico Independent has decided that “this issue is not going anywhere good,” I’d just as soon all my hard work and profound insights not to go waste. Fortunately, I have another venue here at Moralia. My little blog doesn’t get as much traffic as NMI, it’s true, but at least I have sole editorial control here. And I’m not finished writing about this issue. Not by a long shot.
Neither are a lot of other conservatives, like Sister Toldjah, Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, A Conservative Teacher, Jonah Goldberg (at whose table I sat at the New Mexico Turn Around conference where both of us spoke on Friday), S. Weasel (who ruminates on how to turn the same savage wit she unleashed on the Clintons for eight years on the Obamas without being raaaacist), McCain, Cassandra at Villainous Company, Kathy Shaidle, Ed Driscoll, David Brooks (HT: Patrick the Paragraph Farmer), Another Black Conservative and, as I linked the other day, but whose excellent treatment of the issue deserves another plug, Nice Deb.
So here’s the column that was supposed to run at NMI today. The column that was going to get the commenters at NMI too riled up for safety. The column my editor didn’t want you to read. But as I said before, here at Moralia, I am the editor, and I get to decide what gets published and what doesn’t. Having complete freedom of expression doesn’t pay quite as well as writing for somebody else, but as the MasterCard commercials say, it’s priceless.
You’re all racists
written for (but not published by)
The New Mexico Independent
“You’re all racists!” That’s the meme sweeping the mainstream media and left-leaning websites these days. Conservative opposition to the Democratic policies championed by President Obama. Everybody is saying it. Former President Jimmy Carter is saying it. Frank Rich of The New York Times is saying it. Orlando Romero of the Santa Fe New Mexican is saying it. All the cool people are saying it, so it must be true, right? The fact is, conservatives oppose leftist politicians because they try to enact leftist policies. Barack Obama is a leftist politician and therefore conservatives oppose his policies. Because the swing voters who joined committed leftists to elect Obama are now having second thoughts, the liberal media elite is now desperately searching for a way to bring those swing voters back, and has decided that guilt-tripping them with accusations of racism is their best bet.
I frequently hear how racist people still are in the South and in some other regions of the United States. I will admit that I have never lived in the South (as opposed to the Southwest) so I cannot speak personally of the Zeitgeist concerning matters of race in conservative circles there. I do have a number of friends who are Southerners and Republicans, and I can say that I’ve never heard any of them make racist remarks about Barack Obama even though I have heard them attack his policy positions.
This is not to say that there aren’t younger racists in the South and other regions of the country. I’m sure there are. I just do not believe that there are even a tenth as many of them as the recent glut of opinion pieces suggests. There will always be people with anti-social and even pathological attitudes in our society. There are people walking the streets among us who will at some point in the future commit murders and rapes, people who will kidnap and molest children, people who will swindle the elderly and the feeble-minded. The fact that there are sadists and sociopaths among us does not make us a nation of sadists and sociopaths, however.
There are men in our society who hate women, men like George Sodini, who last month went on a shooting spree in which he murdered three women and injured nine more, because he felt as though women rejected him sexually. The fact that a small percentage of men burn with murderous rage against women does not make American men as a whole misogynistic.
Likewise, there are people in our society who hate blacks. A few are violent, pathological racists, who think the murderous violence of the KKK was fully justified. More are racists of a milder degree, people who would never condone the murder of a black person, but who would be distressed if their son or daughter dated one.
In personal conversations with other conservatives, I have heard exactly three people make racist remarks about the president. All three of them are in their 80s. These are people who were already well into adulthood during the 1950s, when segregation was still considered acceptable by a large minority, if not the majority, of the white population of this country. The vast majority of Republicans, Libertarians and registered independent conservatives who voice opposition to Barack Obama do so because they oppose his policy positions. This is true of the overwhelming majority of conservatives under the age of 60. For the most part, Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers and people younger even than that do not share the often frankly racist sentiments of some elderly people.
President Obama wants to take the country in a direction those of us on the right see as the wrong direction – dangerously wrong. That is why the great majority of us oppose him. The allegations of racism against conservatives are not only slanderous, but ignorant. Didn’t we vote against John Kerry, a white man, in 2004? Didn’t we vote against Al Gore, a white man, in 2000? Didn’t we vote against Bill Clinton, a white man, in 1992 and 1996? And did not Barack Obama, a black man, win a great many more votes from white Americans than either Kerry or Gore?
The case of Bill Clinton is particularly damning to the “they’re all racists” argument. Imagine Bill Clinton had been a black man rather than a white man. When Republicans in the House of Representatives impeached Clinton, the pundits would have cried racism, arguing that conservative targeting of Clinton’s sexual peccadilloes was playing to the stereotype of the highly sexualized black male, that the right was demonizing him because we were afraid of a sexually predatory black man who threatened white women. But, alas, Bill Clinton was a sexually predatory white man, and so the argument could not be made.
In the early days of Barack Obama’s presidency, it was mainly crackpots like Janeane Garofalo who were insisting that everyone who wasn’t in lock step with the president’s policy agenda was a racist. Now, more respectable voices are picking up this slanderous rallying cry. Shame on actual racists, but shame on those who slander principled conservatives as racists, too.