Associated Press Analysis: “‘Racist’ Claims Defuse Once Powerful Word”

Ken AshfordRace, TheatreLeave a Comment

Shorter version:

Except that the AP analysis is actually kind of stupid and facile:

Everybody's racist, it seems.

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson? Racist, because he shouted "You lie!" at the first black president. Health care protesters, affirmative action supporters? Racist. And Barack Obama? He's the "Racist in Chief," wrote a leader of the recent conservative protest in Washington.

But if everybody's racist, is anyone?

The word is being sprayed in all directions, creating a hall of mirrors that is draining the scarlet R of its meaning and its power, turning it into more of a spitball than a stigma.

As Digby says, this kind of analysis is very conveeeenient for the actual racists.

Look.  There is quite a difference between seeking diversity in college admissions or in the workplace, and blatently suggesting, as Rush Limbaugh did this week, that we should return to segregated school busses because the black kids beat up the white kids.  The latter is racist; the former is not — and the fact that some may CALL the former "racism" doesn't make it so.

I don't think we're at the point in this society — nowhere near — where privileged white men — and so far, all the complaints of "black racism" have come from privileged white men — can complain about being victimized.  Just because we have a black president doesn't mean the "racist" epithet is now fair game for people of all colors.  It just means we've made progress. 

But does anyone think that young black teens are no longer stopped by police for "driving while black"?  Does anyone think that the power structure in D.C. and on Wall Street isn't disproportionately run by white men, and that there isn't a backlash because that is (in some minds) threatened?  Does anyone think that when it comes to hiring and firing in corporate America, such decisions are made in a way that affects all races equally?

Our society is still racist, and that racism is overwhelming slanted against minorities.  In fact, the fact that a minority cannot rise to prominence — whether it be on the Supreme Court (Sotomayor) or President (Obama) — without those on the right (and in the South) making some note (if not disparagement) of their race only proves that "racism" is not "equal".

No, there are no white sheets.  But the sentiment is there, strong as ever.  In fact, it's being emboldened and, as Carter says, bubbling to the surface.