As we move away, temporarily, from tales of the white supremacist police state, we encounter a new racist “controversy” in the political realm: the incoming Republican Majority Whip used to hang out with white supremacists. As Charles Pierce notes, this shouldn’t be the least bit surprising. Appealing to racist white resentment has been a core Republican strategy for decades. It’s not the least bit surprising to see white supremacists within movement conservatism. It’s long been central to that movement.
What’s fascinating to me, though, is the way that conservatives approach the discourse of racism. It reminds me a bit of what Josh Marshall wrote recently about the Palin’s discourse surrounding sexism: they just derp stuff out, not because they believe sexism or white supremacy are problems, but specifically because they don’t.
But this is actually a common tendency on the right with issues of gender, race and much else. If you don’t actually take the issue seriously in the first place, it comes naturally to flip it around in a cookie cutter kind of way. You say we are hostile to women? Well, I saw you be mean to a woman, too! So there! Whether it’s treating women by different standards or bearing animus toward women as a group doesn’t really matter. If you don’t really care about the issue in the first place it’s easy to turn it on its head. Because you don’t see it as a problem but a cudgel, just another weapon in the brick-a-bat of partisan or ideological combat. [Emphasis mine.]
It’s the “I know you are, but what am I?” deflection, as evidenced beautifully here:
So dumb it hurts. pic.twitter.com/7TumPEMCLf
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) December 30, 2014
There’s a bizarre strain of thought on the American right that the NAACP, LULAC and David Duke’s group are exactly the same. This is, “color blind” white supremacy taken to it’s logical extreme: If discriminating against minorities is racist and wrong, the recognition of race must be wrong altogether. Similarly, according to this “logic,” if conservative whites organizing to use the state against Black folks is wrong, Blacks using the state to remove barriers to their full participation in society is wrong. It’s an up-side-down world in which white supremacy has never existed, either in political or social life. Racism may be “wrong,” so anything that disrupts the (never, ever, ever) white supremacist organization of American society is…racist!
That was particularly evident in a derptastic interview given by war criminal Allen West. In it, he claims that racism is only alive because Democrats use it as an advantageous political strategy, not because racism actually exists. Again, we’ve got the denial at work: racism is no longer a significant social force in America. Next, comes the (political) use of “racism” as a political strategy of one’s opponents. Generally, this is where the nonsense of “playing the race card” comes in. ‘It is acknowledged that racism is bad, but because there’s no racism, any claims of racism are, by definition, false claims, thus casting moral aspersions on those who would make such claims. It’s a lovely little turnaround, I suppose. However, it’s bullshit.
This is why I simply cannot take conservatives as acting in good faith when talking about racism in America. Their dishonest delusion renders them incapable of having a genuinely productive “conversation.”