Anyone who has ever attended a large protest rally is bound to encounter his fair share of kooks, loons and assorted fringe elements. At the Santa Monica Tea Party I attended in April 2009, I talked with a 9/11 Truther, who seemed to have showed up not so much because he agreed with the small-government rhetoric of the assembled protesters, but because it was, well, a gathering of protesters. And he wanted the chance to wave his sign.
Over a Politico, in a piece lamenting that despite promise that the of Barack Obama would “transform the charged, stilted ‘national conversation’ about race into a smarter and more authentic dialogue,” Ben Smith finds that instead “the conversation just got dumber.” He observes further that “while MSNBC scours the tea party movement for racist elements, which one could probably find in any mass organization in America.”
Except MSNBC won’t tell you that.
They’ve been rooting around for racism not as a means to expose bigots, but as as a part of their campaign to discredit conservatives. Their goal (as well as that of others peddling the racist narrative) isn’t honest reporting, but, to borrow a famous phrase, the politics of personal destruction. Maybe they’re trying to convince themselves that conservatives really are the horrible, no good and very bad people they imagine them to be.
They want to match the reality of the world to the images inside their head. And to do so, they have to pretend that it’s only at rallies protesting Democratic politicians and liberal policies than you find nutbags and kookooheads. They have, as one scholar put it, “overplayed” the race card. And in so doing, Democratic politicians and left-of-center pundits and reporters have, if anything, exacerbated racial tensions in this country — undermining, more than anything perhaps, the greatest promise of Barack Obama’s election in 2008.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links an article on race and quips: “REUTERS: Analysis: Race issues beset Obama’s “post-racial” presidency. Well, he’s played the race card nonstop, but it’s no longer trumps.”