The Diasporist

Clearly, you just must not like black people that much…

In Policy vs Culture on August 13, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I don’t know who started it, or why it had become so pervasive, but our obsession with confusing political ideology with personality traits is probably one of the most lamentable aspects of American political discourse.


Radio personality Ed Schultz caused a bit of a stir on his program by alleging that there are “some” conservative activist or media personalities who wish to see the President of the United States shot.   Of course, these remarks are not totally out of the realm of possibility for a radio personality, nor are radio personalities on the right immune from this type of over-the-top rhetoric.  But, it’s the overarching pattern of assuming someone’s personality or motives based on their political preferences that illustrates just how weak our political discourse has become.

I think the perfect example of this pattern is Janeane Garofalo’s now famous accusation that the tea party protests from earlier this year were simply lightly veiled racist gatherings.  Apparently opposing the President’s policies when it comes to spending is enough evidence to establish a prima facie case of racism.

I mean – this defies logic; what has opposition to, say, the TARP program have to do with liking or disliking black people?

Again, I’m not arguing that the right is above these tactics; we all remember learning in 2002 that opposing the War in Iraq obviously meant that a person wasn’t a patriot and desired to see terrorist victory around the world.

I don’t follow the logic of they-did-it-too rationalization, where engaging in something wrong is suddenly less wrong because my opponents did it too.  Whether on the right or the left, attacking caricatures of our opponents cheats the intellectual debate on public policy issues that this country really needs.  I understand that it’s easier to call your opponent a racist or unpatriotic than actually engage in actual debate, but surely there are some adults.

And, for the record Janeane, calling something racist when it isn’t can have the unintended consequence of diminishing honest-to-God instances of racism.  Just a thought…

  1. Do I hear Kenny making an argument for LESS cynicism in politics? Wha??????!

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