Racial Politics and Pop Culture

Leftist reactions to the Tea Parties, Joe Wilson’s ‘liar’ comment, and the recent expose of ACORN illustrate and verify that old sardonic joke often bandied about in conservative circles: “What is the definition of a racist? Anyone winning an argument against a liberal.”

From Maureen Dowd’s recent tirade in the New York Times chalking Wilson’s outburst up to racism, to the charges of bigotry emanating from the ignorant lips of Bill Maher and Janeane Garofalo about Obama’s dissenters, the humorous aphorism is proving evermore true. Mainstream talking heads on cable networks have not shied away from engaging in such vitriolic accusations either, fallaciously asserting that Obama’s opponents do not oppose his policies, rather, they oppose and fear him because he is black, as Joe Klein elucidated recently on “The Chris Matthews Show.”

All humor has an element of truth; sadly, this old joke has become indubitable fact. The reflexive reversion to the race card, as disgusting and transparent as it is, does show, however, that those in opposition to the administration’s mass power grab and irreparably-flawed worldview are winning.

But while on this touchy subject of race, perhaps we ought to delve into a recent pop culture snafu which, though outside the purview of current policy debates, provides an interesting commentary on the societal double standard of contemporary racial finger pointing. Infamously at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night, Kanye West, black rapper and outspoken Obama supporter, rushed the stage as the award for Best Female Video was awarded to the young, soft spoken country singer Taylor Swift. Snatching the microphone from her small white hands, West proceeded to protest that it was Beyonce who deserved to win (leaving the subject of his rant shocked and tastefully outraged). West has been known in the past for his racially-charged criticisms of the Bush Administration and his frank words about his fundamental identity as a black man in America… Would he have done the same if Swift were black?

Had the tables been turned and say, Toby Keith had rushed the stage and wrestled a microphone from Beyonce’s hands to protest for Taylor Swift, the charges of racism would be fast and loose from all corners of society. Little to no racial connection has been made to Kanye West’s outrageous actions. Charges of racism, it seems, go one way (often erroneously and with unfortunate results, a la the Gates ‘profiling’ affair, the Duke lacrosse injustice, and the current subversion of honest consideration of Obama’s policy agenda).

To be sure, there are individuals across the ideological spectrum who see the world through racially-tinged glass. It is, however, the liberal wing of American politics which wields the charge of racism as a convenient tool to avoid debate and achieve desired political ends. As we have seen, time and again, and as Project 21consistently reveals with alacrity, charges of racism are often an exercise in leftist hypocrisy. Best to move forward and attempt to relegate such ugly sentiments to the proverbial dustbin of history.

This post was written by Caroline May, policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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