Back in 1996, I had a telling conversation with a liberal acquaintance over Proposition 209, then pending before the voters of California. The initiative provided that the state “state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
When I defended the proposition, holding that the state should not discriminate on the basis of minority status, my interlocutor told me that its passage meant that public universities in the Golden State would as a result be overwhelmingly Asian. So, I replied, if that’s the demographic breakdown you get when you judge by merit, then so be it.
He was stunned, assuming that I had supported Prop 209 for racial reasons. He assumed I had wanted a mostly white student body at California public universities. (I identified one of this man’s prejudiced assumptions. See if you can spot another.)
“A bright line was crossed on the 20th [of March],” says Christina Botteri, a spokeswoman for the Tea Party Federation. “The left constantly attacks conservatives as racist, as dumb, as evil, but what happened on the 20th is a sitting congressman, with the full voice and credibility of the House of Representatives, accused a group of citizens with whom he philosophically disagrees of assault and then refused to help find the persons responsible. They need to help us find the people responsible or apologize for making it up.”
Emphasis added. It seems, as Elizabeth Scalia puts it, “strange how Democrats in power seem to be incapable of doing anything, anymore, but cry “racism” at every turn? This is not the sign of a party (or an ideology) secure in itself.”
And maybe now we’re seeing what some have called a “paradigm shift” with conservatives having gained the media clout to stand up to the oft-repeated and long inaccurate accusation. From the Monitor:
Some in the mainstream press have conceded tea partyers may have a point. Washington Post reporter David Weigel has said the March 20 incident is a “paradigm shift” that shows conservatives how the media accept attacks on the right without doing due diligence. Politico’s Ben Smith, who keeps a close eye on the tea party movement, Tweeted a response to [Andrew] Breitbart about the lack of takers on the bounty: “I think you’ve pretty much won this one, no?”
There seems to be an incredible ignorance among media folk about the ideas undergirding American conservatism. They just assume that the movement had its roots in the opposition to the Civil Rights movement and its followers seek to restore a pre-desegregation America.
Why did Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) march through the crowd of Tea Party protesters last month bearing two video cameras? It seems he just knew he’d capture some racist epithet because that, he believes, is what conservatives do, hurl such epithets, even if he has no evidence that all but the most deranged of conservatives eschew such name-calling.
Perhaps, thanks to new media, we are seeing a paradigm shift, but then again I’m an optimist. But, at least, we’re seeing the mainstream media pick up on the liberal use (double meaning intended) of this inaccurate accusation. It may not be the end, but at least it’s a start.
Or, perhaps as Churchill might put it, it’s the end of the beginning.
SOMEWHAT RELATED: Just caught this: “ROGER SIMON: ‘The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism is that contemporary American-style liberalism is in rigor mortis. Liberals have nothing else to say or do. Accusations of racism are their last resort.'”