Sunday, January 30, 2022

"Racist, Racist, Racist, Racist"

As Joe Biden prepares to fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a black woman for the US Supreme Court, blogger Steve M. makes a legitimate, probably valid, point when he argues

Chuck Schumer is informing the press that Senate Democrats intend to have a rapid confirmation process for Biden's appointee. That makes sense, but why say so? Why let the public know that you want to put this nomination on a glide path, so Mitch McConnell can very publicly score a victory when he throws up roadblocks, even if he can't prevent confirmation?

Similarly, he argues

What if Biden had kept this plan private and simply fulfilled it when the time came? He could have told historians for the record that he had a strong belief that the Court would benefit from the presence of a Black woman. He could have allowed his actions to speak, not his words. Now this is a subtext to the confirmation process. Is that a good thing?

But though it is tactically wise not to show your hand before it's necessary, Steve M lapses into an argument which has proven, and continues. to be a long-term strategic error. He states that the nomination process is

already being accompanied by grumbling that his pick will come with an "asterisk" and is an example of "affirmative action." This is racist talk, obviously, but it filters into the discussion. It influences the thinking of middle-of-the-road voters, in a country where many voters aren't solidly in either the racist or anti-racist camp.

Well, no, it is not obviously "racist" talk, inasmuch as even he acknowledges that it might influence the attitudes of moderate voters. And given that Joe Biden explicitly signaled that his choice would be limited to individuals only of a certain race (and gender), it's a little rich to label as racist the talk that the nomination is determined by race.

Moreover, the left has suffered by commonly charging, whatever the merits, that racism is determinative in statements or actions we on the left disprove of. This is in part why Donald Trump said what he did on Saturday:

The prosecutors are not racist. Yet, the charge of "racist" did not come merely out of Donald Trump's fevered, demagogic imagination. Conservatives characteristically believe they are unfairly labelled as racists and don't like it. Being able to turn the accusation on its head, to accuse liberals, Democrats, or any of their other enemies of being "racist," is pure gold. What do you think of that, libs?!

Racists and racism exist in this country, as it probably has in every society heterogenous society. exemplified most dramatically in our most recent ex-President.  But as a serious charge and one intended to be understood that way, it should not be bandied about and used indiscriminately.  Otherwise, real racists and racism are more likely to be written off as unserious. And as Donald Trump has demonstrated, it can be wielded as a weapon by not only the left but also the right.


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