Thursday, September 10, 2009

When Racism Just...Isn't

I read an anonymous comment over at Richard Howe's site that basically implied any criticism of Obama, or the direction the Democrats were taking the country, or the references to "taking the country back" were racist.

I strongly disagree, and I urge the anonymous writer who commented to scroll through any American Presidential political history that could pretty much pick up or end off with ANY Presidential election cycle in our history. Invective like this has been part of our partisan system ever since before the turn of the 18th century. Even references to the "real America" or contrasting the "effete, urban elites" to the rugged indivdualist agrarians or frontiersmen comes up pretty clearly in such barnburning elections such as that electing "Boatman Jim" Garfield back in old 1880.

Admittedly, code words do have an ugly place in our political history. Just for two recent examples, look at Ronald Reagan traveling to Philadelphia, MS (site of the Goodman, Chaney, and McLean slayings that inspired 'Mississippi Burning') in 1984 and making a creepy reference to "states' rights." Or, look at Trent Lott's many wistful references to the Good Old Days when the Dixiecrats were running for President on an explicit segregation platform. Clearly, in both cases, they're throwing red meat to their base and hoping not to get called out. Unfortunately for them, YouTube lets us relive the memories again and again.

Speaking of YouTube, here's an amazing example of a completely non-racist interaction that some people feel the need to jump all over. In this example, the Jeopardy contestant is, if not directly from South Asia, clearly a person of South Asian origin (and the specific detail of whether it was he or his parents who had emigrated, and whether they came from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka would've been made known earlier in the show to all the players, viewers, and host). He missed the question after betting heavily, he lost his money, and he made a very noticeable grimace. Trebek then stated, "Yeah, it hurts to miss that one."

Nothing racist, right?

Well the question was about an Asian capital that the contestant wrongly guessed to have been Phnom Penh, but was in fact New Delhi. So the presumption of those calling racism from the Loony Left is that the player was being singled out for his ethnicity (well, he sort of was) but it ENTIRELY misses the point that Trebek would've said the same thing if a contestant either from Australia himself or born to Australian-born parents missed a question about Canberra.

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