Thursday, January 27, 2005

Conservatives have a race card up their sleeves

I think most of us can agree that too many liberals have tried to cut off debate about legitimate issues like government social programs or affirmative action by screaming "racism." I had it happen to me on more than a few occassions as a student at race-conscious Swarthmore and, to be fair, I've probably engaged in it a few times in my life when I shouldn't.

But now it turns out the whole time conservatives were (often rightly) getting pissed at Democrats for playing the race card, they had one hidden up their sleeves the whole time. Condoleezza Rice's nomination is just the latest example. Let me lay my cards out here. I agree with Democrats like Boxer and Dayton who argued, correctly, that Rice was one of the architects of a thoroughly dishonest sales campaign to promote the Iraq War to the American people (for more, see chapters 7 and 8 of "All the President's Spin") and a thoroughly incompetent military plan that didn't prepare for the difficult, costly, and deadly occupation of Iraq despite warnings from those weenies in the State Department. She's better qualified to handle PR for Exxon than be representative of the American people to the world.

But as others have pointed out, the argument of some conservatives that Democrats are in any way racist to vote against her is absurd and offensive. There are a few good examples here, here, (a good blog summary of such talk by guests on Fox News) and here. The Post editorial is particularly notable because it repeats this common canard: "what would the mainstream press do if a black female Democrat were blocked from taking a high Cabinet post by, say, Trent Lott? They'd blow the roof off the Capitol, is all." First of all, nobody blocked Rice; they just argued and voted against her. More importantly, there is of course no evidence of this. Look at how casually the mainstream press and most liberal pundits dismissed Al Sharpton, who was, if nothing else, the most articulate guy running for president last year. Can you imagine how much Republicans and the press would savage a Democratic president who nominated him for anything? And any Sharpton defender who said it was all racism, instead of his largely undistinguished record, would be a twit.

Just because Rice is Black and female doesn't mean votes against her have anything to do with either quality. Especially since Democrats have spectacularly good reasons to oppose her, reasons the Post and others don't deign to address.

But the best example has to to be this press release from the Christian Coalition. It reads "Christian Coalition of America condemns left-wing Senators -- and a moderate running for President -- for their prejudice against successful American conservative minorities, as exemplified by their vote against the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State." Yes, folks, this is the same Christian Coalition that pretends to represent all Christian Americans while ignoring the overwhelmingly liberal community of Black churches around the country. The same Christian Coalition that is so committed to equal rights it devotes its energy to keeping gay Americans second-class citizens under the rubric of being "pro-family." (And yes, I'm aware many of those otherwise liberal Black Christians are not pro-gay rights.)

This, of course, mirrors a conservative campaign to accuse Democrats who oppose staunchly conservative and devoutly Catholic judicial nominees of President Bush's of "anti-Catholic bigotry," which we wrote about on Spinsanity.

Forget about a commitment to honest and fair debate. These people would benefit most from the ability to detect irony.

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