David Weigel is a smart commentator, but he really doesn’t get it when it comes to racism in the Republican Party. I wrote about this before, Dave Weigel’s Racist Apologetics. And I’ve written about it in a more general sense, Why My Father Watches Fox News. The fact that Republicans get behind people like Allen West and Herman Cain is because they are black men who ask nothing of the party. They are iconoclasts who are willing to pretend that racism is a thing of the past. A black conservative who was upfront about racism would be marginalized. Just look at Colin Powell, who probably couldn’t win a Republican primary in a single state of the union.
This seems to be a foreign concept to Weigel who wrote today, What Conservatives Mean When They Talk About “Race-Baiting” in Mississippi. He’s right in a certain way: Mississippi conservatives don’t hate all blacks, just the ones who make the slightest demands on their fantasy world where racism was abolished 9 April 1865. I really do mean to go back that far, because it is clear that the conservative movement now thinks the civil rights laws of the 1960s were a form of tyranny. That is, after all, what was behind John Roberts’ decision to gut the Voting Rights Act: to pretend that racism is that thing that used to occur in the United States.
If Mississippi conservatives were really concerned about fairness and not just stopping blacks from voting, they would have changed their voting system. Instead of requiring voter identification, they would have required partisan primaries. Instead, they did the opposite. And their most conservative voters then freaked out when the blacks who they had intended to stop from voting at all went ahead and voted for a Republican that they didn’t like. I’m sorry, but this is racism pure and simple.
This is how Weigel sums up the complaints of the Mississippi Republicans, “The ‘racist’ party is the one that wins black votes by promising largesse, and the colorblind party aims to win them by talking free markets and social values.” This in itself is a racist view of the situation. What, after all, was Medicare Part D, but a giveaway to a Republican coalition? What was the attempt to privatize Social Security, but a giveaway to a Republican coalition? What was the recent farm bill, but a giveaway to a Republican coalition and an attack on a Democratic coalition? The whole idea that it is just blacks who are won over by a party’s pandering is racist. And add to that, the idea that rich people vote for the Republican Party because of their embrace of “free markets (!) and social values,” and you have a frighteningly racist statement.
I don’t know how long Weigel can go on making excuses for the clearly racist attitudes on the party of conservatives. And what’s more, I don’t know why he does it. There is no indication that Weigel harbors any more racist attitudes than we all do. And he is certainly smart enough to know what he’s doing. Does he think that he needs to be the one to always be out in front making the best case for the Republican Party’s racist language and policies? Or does he have a real blind spot where he can’t see that even his best case apologia for conservative racism is itself racist.
Let me make it easy for Weigel. The Mississippi conservatives are complaining because they know there are not that many black makers, so it must have been all those black takers who won the election for Thad Cochran. That’s the blunt way of putting, “The ‘racist’ party is the one that wins black votes by promising largesse, and the colorblind party aims to win them by talking free markets and social values.” I really want to know if Weigel would still claim that the conservatives making that argument aren’t really racists.