By now you may have heard about the rock at Rick Perry’s hunting camp that has the “N” word painted on it. There are so many interesting facets to this man it’s hard to keep up.
Some would think that keeping such a sign says something about a man’s character, even if he didn’t paint the rock himself. On the other hand, Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that it says more about America that such a sign could become just part of the landscape.
However, the Right threw a fit because the sign became news. Erik Erickson accused the reporter who broke the story of having a racist agenda.
“My reaction is, that’s just very insensitive,” Cain told Fox. “[There] isn’t a more vile, negative word than the n-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”
Well, yeah. But the really remarkable thing is that Cain was hammered with criticism from the Right for saying something that would be, in a sane world, utterly uncontroversial. He spent most of the next day explaining to reporters that no, he was not playing the race card.
As blogger Chauncy DeVega writes, “race card” is “a flat and lazy term that disingenuous colorblind white Conservative racial reactionaries can use to deflect any substantive engagement with how race and racism remain operative in American political and social life.”
The race card is a pair with the “political correctness” card, which righties pull out whenever they don’t want to admit they lost the moral high ground sometime in the 19th century. And the “class warfare” card is supposed to trump any evidence of growing income inequality.
However, righties are a tad selective about how these cards are played. Andrew Breitbart has been hyping a story about then-Senator Obama “marching” with members of the New Black Panther party in 2007.
It wasn’t Obama’s event. It wasn’t the Panthers’ event. They were all in Selma for an annual celebration of an historic civil rights moment. During that event, Obama and New Black Panthers leader Malik Zulu Shabazz gave speeches from the same podium, and both were part of the crowd that then marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Breitbart says that the Panthers “explicitly came to Selma to support Obama,” and basically establishes that they followed Obama around that day. For Breitbart, this constitutes “an association between a vile racist organization and a future President of the United States.”
So let’s get this straight — a black candidate for the Republican nomination for president is acceptable only as long as he doesn’t play the “race card,” meaning that he must not acknowledge racism in America. But it’s OK for Herman Cain to say that African-Americans are brainwashed into voting for Democrats, a statement I find curiously racist.
And it’s OK for Andrew Breitbart to gin up a phony controversy by tying the black President of the United States to an organization with “Black Panther” in its name in an article that also hypes the “racist agenda” of President Obama’s Justice Department. And, of course, nobody on the Right ever yells at Rush for mentioning race.
If this is a card game, I wish somebody would explain the rules.