Playing the Race Deck


It is almost tiresome at this point to address the topic of race and opposition to Obama. But with Eric Holder’s remarks earlier this week that a significant part of opposition to Obama and Holder was driven by “racial animus,” the President’s many apologists in the media have yet again taken up the cry. Someone named Dorothy Brown, who is a Critical Race Theory professor (as opposed to someone who does something useful for a living) was given a lengthy column at CNN to explain that it’s perfectly obvious that Holder was correct. See also this sprawling screed at The New Yorker which essentially says that the problem with America is that you can’t play the race card as often as it deserves to be played.


The commentary itself is both tiresome and it’s pointless to engage it. To me, the most important question is why it exists. As in, what purpose its authors hope to achieve with it. Is it true that some portion of people who are opposed to Obama are racist? Sure. But even if you grant that that’s true, what is achieved by pointing it out? Those people, to the extent they exist, will not be swayed to vote for Obama because of sonorous essays in The New Yorker. Nor is it really helpful to the political discourse at large to point this fact out.

After all, if it isn’t out of bounds to point out that some unascertainable portion of Obama’s opposition is race based, is it out of bounds to point out that some portion of Obama’s support is likewise race based? Obama’s approval rating among black voters is 79%, compared to just 32% of white voters and 39% of Hispanic voters. And it isn’t just limited to the fact that black voters tend to be more staunchly Democrat than other voters; in the 2008 primaries, when Obama faced off Hillary Clinton, who was almost ideologically identical to him, he typically got 88-90% of the black vote.


So we assume that some unknown number of white voters oppose Obama specifically because he is black, and we take for granted that that’s a bad thing. And we likewise assume that some number of voters (both black and white) support Obama specifically because he is black, and I assume or hope that we agree that that is likewise a bad thing. What is all this commentary supposed to achieve?

We can safely say that the Obama apologists aren’t trying to bring about racial harmony or an improved America by assailing all his opponents as racists. Any person of even marginal intelligence would understand that the opposite would be more likely to occur. And that’s where it becomes clear that something more sinister is occurring: that those who are cynically and unjustifiably playing the race card over and over are doing so in the cynical hopes that they can drive some of Obama’s race based support to the polls in November. In other words, it is too their benefit to widen the gap in race relations in this country because doing so helps their voter turnout.

These people do not have the best interests of America at heart. And while they complain about racial animus directed against Obama, they are in full support of racial animus as an abstract concept because it provides a handy GOTV cudgel. I have no doubt that these people believe what they say; but their motivation sheds light on how seriously we should take their concern.



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