I’m tired of people playing the race card. More and more – in what was supposed to be a time to “transcend race” – allegations of racism are being strategically and aggressively employed against those who dare to oppose a liberal political agenda. Instead of the post-racial political era, we seem to be entering a hyper-racial political period.
Joe Wilson‘s outburst was inappropriate, and he rightly apologized to the president. Now his detractors insist that his real motivation was that he’s actually a vicious closet racist. It couldn’t have been that he simply let his emotions on a hot button issue like health care nationalization get the better of him. No, he obviously and necessarily hates all black people.
The same slur is being used against others for various alleged offenses to those of politically correct sensibilities. There are many recent examples, they aren’t hard to uncover.
I’ve had this accusation hurled at me on a couple of occasions (generally by some obnoxious campus lefty who seemed also to take particular self-satisfaction when labeling the nearest College Republican a “fascist” or “bigot”), so I know what it feels like and what the purpose is in using this line of false attack. Naturally, my verbal assailants didn’t actually know me. That might have ruined the fun. Those who do – even those with dramatically divergent political opinions – would never label me in such ugly fashion and in fact have stated the opposite about me.
Calling somebody a racist, or suggesting that they might be motivated by racism, is meant to silence and demean someone. It is meant to portray them as somebody so morally repugnant that their views do not even merit consideration or a place in proper public discourse. It is a heavy club used to cause blunt force trauma to someone’s integrity and reputation. Often, its wielders swing it wildly and carelessly (or worse, sometimes not so carelessly).
It is generally an intellectually lazy attack, because it is so easy. It doesn’t take much thought but it has potentially a big payoff – a lot of bang for the buck, in other words. It is also one of the potentially most insidious types of attacks. It cuts straight through all the actual substance of an issue to damage someone personally and irredeemably. You don’t have to debate racists.
I have been unwilling to put up with this for some time, and as such refuse to be intimidated or silenced by anyone who threatens (or might be expected to threaten) to level unfounded accusations of racism in my direction for purely political reasons. We will all need to remember this in the coming months and years, because from the way things are going now we could be in for a long haul where this attack is used with increasing frequency and nastiness.