Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Return to Racism

Distancing conservatism from “birthers” may not be as easy as it seems

Trump is strutting like a peacock over the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate. Not surprisingly, even this does not quell the birthers, as indicated by Trump’s promises to now investigate the document. So leave the kooks to themselves. For the rest of us, the issue is put to bed and we can all move on, right? Maybe not.

Having the birth certificate released ought to make it easier for Republicans and Tea Partiers alike to distance themselves from the birther movement. As the 2012 presidential campaign season opens, it would be nice to focus on important issues like the economy, foreign affairs, and entitlements. But don’t be surprised if you hear charges of racism lobbed at the president’s political adversaries once more.

Already, left-wing pundits say that it was racism in the Tea Party that gave rise to the birther movement. Even if they are willing to admit that birthers were a Clinton Machine creation, or that The Donald is a political weathervane, they still make it the Tea Party’s responsibility to make them go away. Failure to do so will only underscore their racism.

It doesn’t matter whether that responsibility makes any sense. Does it make sense that believing one black man was born in an African country proves you believe all black people are born in Africa—and that you hate them? Or that code-words such as “inexperienced” “socialist” or “liberal” all really mean “I hate black people”? Broken as this logic is—borne of the veiled bigotry of those who employ it—for liberals, it is as good a fallback as any. For conservatives, the only genuine code-word is “racist” which really means “I can’t win this argument.”

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