Our world view determines how we process new data. If your world view is bounded by race, every new bit of information is going to be run through that racial filter, and divided into “racist” or “non-racist” categories. If you only have two intake bins, the information has to go into one of them. For Obama and his supporters, with their two bins, the logical approach after new data is run through their narrow filter is to dump anything negative into the “racist” bin.
We’ve seen this happening for a while, and the S.F. Chron (which is one of those binary “everything is racist (or not)” hammers) has a very good article on the subject. Not “good” because it’s objective and intelligent, but “good” because it is the perfect paradigm of the identity politics paranoia that permeates this campaign. I’ll just quote and fisk a few paragraphs to give you an idea of what I mean:
While Obama’s campaign has fended off racially rooted attacks since its inception [Absolutely no racist attacks have come from the Republican party or from McCain. Instead, Obama has been fending off potential racist attacks that live only in his imagination.], analysts say the ones surfacing in the past few days have been more overt, arriving as many undecided voters are making their final decision. They are part of a recent stream of attacks on his background, including his religion and his connections to a former ’60s radical. [I lived through the 60s. Radicals came in all colors. The only black ones were the Panthers. The vast majority were, like Ayers and Dohrn, white.]
Instead of using a grainy photo of a grizzled convict as Atwater did, the current attacks, analysts say, are embedded in “coded” language. They cite as examples Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin portraying Obama as a cultural outsider and friend to terrorists [Two factual words: Arugula and Ayers.] and the dismissive way his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, referred to Obama at their Tuesday night debate as “that one.” [That wasn't about race, that Freudian slip was about Obama's delusions of Messiah-like grandeur, and a journalist who was not blinkered by the binary racism filter would have realized that.]
Then there have been the speakers at McCain-Palin rallies who continue, unchecked by the candidates, to refer to “Barack Hussein Obama” – the emphasis on his middle name is an implication that Obama, who is a Christian, is Muslim. [I hate to say it, but Hussein is, in fact, his middle name. Nobody got upset when we referred to William Jefferson Clinton. When I'm mad at my children, I emphasize that fact by calling them by all three names. It is a way of calling them out and making yourself heard.] The latest occurred Wednesday in Pennsylvania, when Bill Platt, the Lehigh County Republican chairman, mentioned Obama’s former reluctance to wear an American flag lapel pin and said: “Think about how you’ll feel on Nov. 5 if you see the news that Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, is president of the United States.” [Yeah, let's call Obama out for being un-American. Call him out, by all three names, to make sure he listens.]
‘Nuff said. You get the point.
As for how we should respond, I think we should ignore them and do what we need. A little anecdote might be useful here.
About thirty years ago, I got my hands on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp, she of Sound of Music fame. While most of what I read in that book instantly went down my own personal memory hole, one anecdote stuck with me forever. von Trapp described herself as something of a deliquent growing up. Whether she was in a home or a school or an orphanage, I don’t recall, but it was a place that assumed that all children were doing bad things. The policy therefore, was to beat the child daily on the assumption that, even if the caregiver hadn’t seen the naughty acts, the child had certainly engaged in such acts, making punishment appropriate. Maria von Trapp drew the logical conclusion: if she was going to be beaten regardless of whether she was good or bad, she might as well have the fun of being bad.
In this case, since the McCain campaign is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t — no matter what it says, it’s racist — it should stop trying to edit itself, and just say what needs to be said. The one thing I’m absolutely certain of is that the McCain campaign does not now and never has had any intention of being racist in the traditional mode of saying that Obama is defective because of his race. So, free yourself little McCain birdies and fly. Whether you’re in the nest or in the sky, the media vultures will be watching.
(Oh, and if you really want classic racism, in the form of a statement that assumes that most blacks are inferior, with a few significant exceptions, check this one out.)
And I’ll remind you once more that I’m a racist and proud of it — so long as I, like the Democrats, get to define the term to suit my own purposes.
Laer also has thoughts about this “code” we’ve all suddenly learned how to speak and interpret.