Sunday, March 23, 2008

The new racism keeps bubbling

-- by Dave

Glenn Greenwald has a superb piece pointing out a Glenn Reynolds-endorsed post from post from the Reynolds-endorsed Instapunk that truly lays bare the ugly racism that has been rising, like all scum, to the top of the conservative movement these days:
Here's the dirty secret all of us know and no one will admit to. There ARE niggers. Black people know it. White people know it. And only black people are allowed to notice and pronounce the truth of it. Which would be fine. Except that black people are not a community but a political party. They can squabble with each other in caucus but they absolutely refuse to speak the truth in public. And this is the single biggest obstacle to healing the racial divide in this country.

I'm not proposing the generalized use of the term, just trying to be clear for once, in the wake of Obama's call for us to have a dialogue about race. However much they may scream and protest, black people will know what I mean when I demand they concede that the following people are niggers:

- Jeremiah Wright

- O.J. Simpson

- Marion Barry

- Alan Iverson

- William Jefferson

- Louis Farrakhan

- Mike Tyson . . .

You see, you've just given life to the suspicion that black people in America are, and have long been, a fifth column -- unanimously hating the very country that has afforded the highest standard of living ever achieved by black people in human history.

I've been calling this "the new racism", which really is just a slightly modified version of the truly vicious belief system that has been lying, like a cancer waiting to metastasize, from the body of movement conservatism for the many years since it was forced into semi-dormancy some 40 years ago. With folks like Rush Limbaugh leading the way, I describe it thus:
[It is] a trend in right-wing comentary, staking out positions that, if not overtly racist, at least seek to resurrect some of the hoary mythology of the era of white supremacy. As with most of right-wing race rhetoric of the past twenty years, it's all done with a certain level of plausible deniability, couched in "jokes" or abstrations that let the speakers feign indignation when the racism is pointed out; the current trend is only slightly more overt in its racism, but the underlying sentiments aren't hard to read.

It's a step beyond wink-and-nudge racism -- or, perhaps, more like that point in the winking and nudging when the winker begins nudging harder and harder.

Of course, it's not just Limbaugh, but rather something systemic within the body of conservatism generally:
[E]merging from behind a mask of genteel conservatism, it openly calls for a revival of ole-time white supremacism, having found that the "liberal social experiment" with racial equality has failed. Already, we've seen Patrick Buchanan drop all pretense and adopt a position that shifts from simple white nationalism to outright supremacism. Michael Savage airs denunciations of the Civil Rights movement. TV talkers like Glenn Beck pretend that blind bigotry toward Muslims is a "normal" perspective.

And as I noted then:
What's especially ironic is that all of this discussion is being raised by people with a record of attacking multiculturalism -- which, historically speaking, was the response to white supremacism and eugenics and became the worldview that replaced them. What we've been hearing, in a steady drumbeat from the right, is the notion that "multiculturalism is a failure" -- though notably, while unsparing in their critique, they have been discreet about what they would replace it with.

Now, evidently, we're finding out: a "new eugenics," to go right alongside a new kind of racism. It's all justified, you see, because multiculturalism has failed -- all it's done, they tell us, is make us more ethnically divided.

Nowhere in the discussion, of course, is even a glimmer of recognition that white people invented this ethnic balkanization over a century ago, instituted it for the better part of that century, and only recently have begun taking steps towards dismantling those institutions – many of which indeed persist well into this century. Nowhere is there a recognition of their own culpability, and responsibility to deal with minorities in good faith, instead of attempting to strip them of what few advances they have made in the intervening years.

More recently, we're seeing all kinds of white conservative pundits lay the blame for this turn in the discourse at the feet of black people.

As Greenwald puts it:
There is no better phrase to describe the animating feature of the modern Limbaugh/Kristol/Fox News conservative faction than "threatened tribalism." The belief that they are good and pure, yet subjected to unprecedented systematic unfairness and threatened by some lurking Evil Other against whom war must be waged (the Muslim, the Immigrant, the Terrorist, the Communist, the Liberal, the Welfare Queen) is the centerpiece of their ugly worldview.

Obama's campaign, as I've noted before, is going to be Ground Zero for this trend. And as the Jeremiah Wright controversy has made clear, the supposedly mainstream media are all too willing to play along.

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