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Saturday Night Card Game (Three reasons why conservatives should not play the race card)

Saturday Night Card Game (Three reasons why conservatives should not play the race card)

This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:

Herman Cain and some of his supporters in the media stand accused of playing the race card in response to the Politico-driven accusations that Cain engaged in sexual harassment, charges which as of yet are unsupported by ANY KNOWN FACTS.

It’s understandable why Cain and others would believe Cain has been singled out by liberals in the media and blogosphere because of his race — it’s true.

As documented here last Saturday Night and before, there has been a vicious race-based campaign to portray Cain as an insult and sellout to blacks, to claim he is acting “minstrelsy,” and generally to demean Cain because he is not acting in the way liberals — including black liberals — believe a black politician should act.

The race-based attacks on Cain have not stopped. Just today he was accused of “shucking and jiving his way through debates” not by a racist white, but by the leading African-American blog, The Root.

It was against that backdrop that Cain and others reacted by claiming that the Politico attempt to portray Cain as a sexual predator without ANY KNOWN FACTS to support such innuendo was playing on racial stereotypes.

I don’t believe the Politico was racially motivated, much less racist. Jonathan Martin and the other reporters were shoddy, sneaky, and biased in their reporting, but the reporting was not race-based. Had they the chance to take down Mitt Romney or any leading white Republican candidate, I have no doubt they would do so.

So yes, I agree that the suggestion that Politico was motivated by Cain’s race was a playing of the race card, even if it was not intended to be so.

There are consequences when conservatives or other Republicans play the race card. Here are three:

1. Empowering the real race card players. On October 22 I featured some foul race-based attacks on Cain from Pam Spaulding of Firedoglake, who called Cain, Michael Steele and other black Republicans “puppets” and “self-loathing.” But the play of the race card by supporters of Cain has emboldened Spaulding, who now uses it to launch an even more vicious attack on Cain and other black Republicans (emphasis in original):

The bold and pathetic use of the race card in these instances only serves to underscore how illogical and grotesque the right is when it handles the issue.

The bottom line is that the conservative movement can only go so far in embracing black conservatives because the socially conservative base has proven it will turn on a dime when the House Negro shows a spine. Look at the racial hellfire directed at Cain when he dared to challenge Rick Perry’s honesty about the “N*ggerhead” debacle.

The black conservative is still the lawn jockey in that movement. An ornament, a decoration for show. Look at the ridiculous term of Michael Steele as head of the RNC. That was a #FAIL a minute.

I wish it weren’t that way, quite frankly. The conservative movement is still in the grips of the religious right, the teabaggers and outlandish bigots, nativists and racists and apparently sees them all as useful idiots because they can rally and get out the vote. It’s a lot harder to sever those relationships than to actually court blacks, Latinos and people of color from a conservative perspective.

2. Empowering straw man arguments that liberal use of the race card is not a problem. I’ve seen this argument at a variety of leftist blogs, but Paul Waldman at The American Prospect quite succinctly makes the argument that conservatives who complain about liberal use of the race card really are trying to diminish the impact of racism:

… here’s a review of the right’s current stance on [racism]:

1. The primary victims of racism are white people.

2. The most vicious form of racism is when a white person is falsely accused of being a racist.

3. On rare occasions, a black person can be a victim of racism, but this only occurs when a prominent black conservative is criticized for, well, for pretty much anything. In that case, the criticism can only be motivated by the racism that liberals feel in their hearts, unlike conservatives, who all believe in the equality of all people.

3. Empowering those who desperately seek the approval of liberals. I’ve only mentioned Conor Friedersdorf once before, when he held the Absolutely Most Overrated Job Description In The History of Humankind. He’s one of those people who inspires the best in Dan Riehl, Mark Levin and Robert Stacy McCain. Kind of the reaction David Frum inspires in me. The use of the race card by Cain has given Friedersdorf just the opening he needed with regard a video ad run by a PAC supporting Herman Cain, which invoked the “high tech lynching” language used by Clarence Thomas, What Playing the Race Card Looks Like:

Can you imagine if a pro-Barack Obama PAC had run an ad like that during the 2008 election?

Well, I don’t know about PAC ads, that’s a pretty narrow and irrelevant measure because PACs cannot legally coordinate with the campaign, but people who could coordinate with Obama’s campaign did not hesitate to play the race card on Hillary and Bill Clinton:

The former president fumed on Monday that it was Obama’s campaign that injected the race issue.

“I think that they played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along,” Bill Clinton said in a telephone interview with WHYY’s Susan Phillips. “I was stating a fact, and it’s still a fact.”

The former president says the comment was “used out of context and twisted for political purposes by the Obama camapign.”

Clinton goes on to say that “you have to really go some place to play the race card on me.”

The net result of conservatives playing the race card is that it makes it harder for us to complain when they do it too, which they do with great frequency.

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Comments

You are correct. Conservatives shouldn’t even touch the race card. Your list of reasons are both accurate and powerful.

[…] that the only way up is by hitching their wagon to the Democrat party star. Professor Jacobson has a post in which he argues much more coherently than I this same […]

Oh, c’mon, Professor, “it doesn’t make it harder…to complain when they do it too.” indeed, calling out people for deploying race as a factor in attacks on Black conservatives has no effect of any kind on the propensity of many on the left to use race in such attacks. They can’t help it. Blacks who are not down with the program possess false race consciousness; they are race traitors, Uncle Toms, tap dancers for the Man, porch monkeys. They have to be destroyed. Nothing will prevent or mitigate such attacks. In the simplest political sense, if Democrats could only count on 60 percent of Black voters rather than 90 percent, the Democratic party could never win another national election — and would have a far tougher time winning state races in a dozen states they now dominate overwhelmingly. This is about long-term survival; it allows for no compromise or half measures.

In most respects, Herman Cain is an unproven candidate so it is hard to project how he might fare with any segment of the electorate. But one thing is certain: a Black candidate on a national GOP ticket would eat into at least some of the Democrats’ lock on Black voters. For this reason alone, Colin Powell would have been a more successful candidate than Bob Dole in 1996.

Whether Politico might have run the same sort of thinly sourced nameless faceless charges against a white candidate — with such gusto and such hostile orchestration — is not so easily answered. Who knows? All we do know is that they assigned six or seven reporters and unknown amounts of editors’ tine — something on the order of a third of their resources — to destroying Cain.

    JEBurke in reply to JEBurke. | November 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    My first line above has a mistake that is confusing. It should read:

    Oh, c’mon, Professor, it doesn’t “make it harder to complain…when they do it too.”

SmokeVanThorn | November 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Was The Root’s comment inspired by Dan Riehl’s comment or vice versa?

I heard the question asked of Cain. It was something like, “Do you think race had something to do with the way the press has gone after you?” That’s not verbatim, but I thought it was asked in such a way that he could only answer the truth, which was yes.

I mean, how could you possibly say race had NOTHING to do with what they’ve done to him.

They’ve borked him. Palinized him. And now Cained.

I suppose “not playing the race card” means that the player refrains from making accusations indiscriminately. I assume we do want to call the Left out when they are really indulging in racism and bigotry.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, you’ve made a good case for not making race-based accusations willy nilly.

On the other hand, I’m not sure if there’s anything we can do to get the Left to play the race card less. And our restraint becomes our vulnerability.

If we outlaw the race card, only outlaws will have the race card.

Sometimes you fight fire with fire.

I’d also note that if everyone plays the race card all the time, at some point people become more skeptical — à la The Boy Who Cried Wolf. And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing (e.g. as we’ve seen with skepticism over sex harassment charges).

The Right-wing race card explained,

1. The primary victims of racism are white people.

2. The most vicious form of racism is when a white person is falsely accused of being a racist.

3. On rare occasions, a black person can be a victim of racism, but this only occurs when a prominent black conservative is criticized for, well, for pretty much anything. In that case, the criticism can only be motivated by the racism that liberals feel in their hearts, unlike conservatives, who all believe in the equality of all people.

I am very tired of the race card. Let’s deal with issues on merit, ideas, experience, knowledge and intelligence.

The race Card implies a tactic. Political strategists may use race as a tactic, but Liberals believe what they say about Black conservatives.

DINORightMarie | November 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm

I just got done reading this, and it seems to fit into your discussion, so I am copying the link:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyharnden/100115731/american-way-a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-the-herman-cain-lynching/

I personally think Herman Cain is NOT playing the “race card” as much as he is describing reality; the hit job Politico & Co. are doing on him is reminiscent of Clarence Thomas’s treatment. I agree with the ad and Cain; it was a hi-tech lynching attempt, but it has failed. More people see it for what it is, and give more sympathy and admiration for the target (Mr. Cain). That’s the American way – cheer for the underdog.

Calling it as he sees it is, to me, just stating facts. I do see why people think this is a form of right-wing race-card playing, but it is unavoidable when the media persists on asking race-related questions, seeking to destroy and devour the “enemy.”

You see, the left is obsessed with race. And, like Alinsky says, they use ANY information to beat down the target until destroyed.

Race. Sex. Ethnicity. Any and all of the above – whatever it takes! All is fair to them: this is WAR, and they fight wars to win. To the death! (rhetorically, of course 😉 )

Just my $.02.

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