« »

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The right’s race cluelessness

While it’s not exactly clear yet that the Supreme Court will gut the Voting Rights Act, what is clear is that that danger exists. Not surprisingly, people on the right are hoping for the court to strike down section 5, since the reason for the challenge is to allow Republican legislatures to charge ahead with their War on Voting.

This has got me thinking about Republican and conservative attitudes toward race and the question of why they don’t seem to understand racism at all. A recent column by conservative intellectual lightweight Jonah Goldberg pretty much sums up everything the right believes about race — racism is behind us, we fixed it, now get over it.

And it’s the right’s simplemindedness — the inability to see issues in anything other than stark black and white — that’s at the root of this belief. It’s the same reason that they think they can lay claim to Martin Luther King jr. or Rosa Parks: they think civil rights was just about segregation and, once segregation ended, racism was “solved.” I suppose there were plenty who made a similar argument after the Civil War; “You’re not a slave anymore, so white oppression is done. Get over it and get back to your sharecropping.”

Since racism is done in their minds, complaints about racism are just griping and making excuses. If minorities are paid less than whites, if they’re a larger percentage of the prison population, if they’re underrepresented in government, that’s their fault. It must be, because we ended segregation — and with it, racism — a long, long time ago. We’re an egalitarian society now and racism is just a crutch used by those who just can’t make it. It’s why Scalia, as a Supreme Court Justice the very model of a white elite, can complain about “racial entitlement” and never once realize he’s making a shockingly racist argument.

But of course, this sort of thinking can’t be racist, because — in their minds — racism is an intentional thing, like joining the neo-nazis or the klan. There is no such thing as “casual racism,” because that would suggest you wouldn’t have to go out of your way to be a racist. Or that you could be a racist without even knowing it.

So they’ll cheer if the Voting Rights Act is gutted and react to the outrage from everyone else as “playing the race card.” And never once will they realize that they just don’t get it or that this — this sort of thing exactly, right here — is why they’ve lost most non-white voters for a generation at least. They’ll applaud the death of a landmark civil rights law, get right to work at making it harder for minorities to vote, then play the victim card when people complain, believing they really are the victims, because they plain just don’t get it.

[image source]

Search Archive:

Custom Search