There’s an old saying that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” In other words, when he can’t have his way by means of persuasion, a politician desperate to win will appeal to loyalty to one’s country and make disagreement seem like betrayal or even treason, thus bullying opponents into submission.
In modern America, the equivalent for the Left has been to cry “racism” whenever someone disagrees with their policy objectives. Do you question the effectiveness of large government social programs? You must hate poor people, especially Blacks. Do you think the constitutional role of the judiciary is to interpret the law, not make policy? You must want to deny non-Whites their civil rights, you crypto-Klansman. Do you think the second amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms? Then you must be afraid of minorities, cracker.
Whatever else, it cannot be because you disagree honestly with the goals of our first African-American president – it’s just because he’s Black.
In an article for National Review, Jonah Goldberg (whose book, Liberal Fascism, is must-reading) looks at the irony in the willingness of President Obama and his supporters to play the race card and finds a stacked deck:
What if America transcended race, and Barack Obama wasn’t invited?
The question comes to mind as cries of racism grow ever louder among Obama’s supporters.
No one should be surprised. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, liberal Democrats have to accuse their opponents of racism. Indeed, somewhat to their credit, fighting racism — alas, even where it doesn’t exist — is one of the reasons they became liberal Democrats in the first place.
And that’s the great irony of the Obama presidency. It was Obama’s supporters who hinted, teased, promised, and prophesied that Obama would help America “transcend race.” But now, it is they who shrink from their own promised land.
After all, it was not Obama’s detractors who immediately fell into the comfortable groove of racial grievance and familiar “narratives” when Henry Louis Gates insisted that a police instructor in racial sensitivity had to be a racist. That was Obama and his choir of heralds.
From Day 1, Obama’s supporters have tirelessly cultivated the idea that anything inconvenient for the first black president just might be terribly, terribly racist.
Indeed, it can be argued that it is the conservative and libertarian opposition that’s “transcended race,” because they’re refusing to give deference to Obama on the basis of his ethnicity. Instead, they’re treating him just like any other president they might strongly oppose – with loud criticism and even mockery. Sure, there are almost certainly a few who dislike Obama because of his half-African ancestry, but the opposition attacks on him have been overwhelmingly for his far-Left domestic policies, weak foreign policy, amateurish political skills once in office, and a flip-flopping that borders on serial mendacity.
It’s the liberal Democrats and their allies in the broader Left who’ve been obsessed with race and unable to ascribe any honest motive to their opponents. And this addiction to playing the race card at the drop of a hat only hurts their program, because it galvanizes opponents who don’t like having their motives or intelligence insulted. And it shows the intellectual and political bankruptcy of their position that, even with overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress and control of the White House, they can’t convince a majority of Americans that their program is the right one.
So, it must be racism.
Oh, and Johnson’s observation about scoundrels and patriotism? They play that one, too.
FURTHER READING: Sister Toldjah has made almost a hobby out of tracking PBO’s use of the race card. And Bruce Bartlett has an excellent book that examines the dirty history of the Democratic Party and race: Wrong on Race.
UPDATE: It seems New York’s Governor Paterson can play the race card, too. (h/t JammieWearingFool) Also ST.