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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obama: They're Picking On Me Because I'm Black

Barack Obama, with ju-jitsu-like use of the race card:

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said on Friday he expects Republicans to highlight the fact that he is black as part of an effort to make voters afraid of him.

"It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy," Obama told a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida. "We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid.

"They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

..."We know the strategy because they've already shown their cards. Ultimately I think the American people recognize that old stuff hasn't moved us forward. That old stuff just divides us," he said.
Glenn Reynolds describes it thus: "IF YOU DON'T VOTE FOR OBAMA, YOU'RE A RACIST."

But that's not quite right. Obama isn't accusing anybody who votes against him of racism. He is accusing the Republican Party of racism. He's trying to pre-de-legitimize anything his opponents say by planting a seed of doubt. He wants everyone to wonder whether GOP attack ads are motivated by racism every time they see one. He wants the punditry debating – not whether the ads are true or effective, but whether they contain evidence of racism.

I'm not the first to point this out (although I can't remember where else I've read it): that the GOP is going to attack Obama isn't a sign of racism: it's a sign of equality. By attacking Obama, the GOP will be treating him just like they treated Kerry, just like they treated Gore, just like they treat every legitimate candidate running against one of their own.

If they lay off because Obama's black, that would be racism.

The Democrats have done, are doing, and will do the same, and their attacks are no more a sign of ageism than the GOP's are of racism.

It's politics. You get your nose bloody sometimes. You have to be able to take a punch, but you do your best to weaken your opponent's punches as much as possible.

That's what Obama is doing, except, as the standard bearer for the Party of Inclusion and Tolerance, this particular incarnation of this particular tactic is particularly invidious.

He's trying to reap the benefits of being a victim of racism. He wants his race to be a deciding factor in this election. He doesn't want to be treated equally.

We’ve been wondering whether Obama's nomination means the end of racism in America – if a man with a Kenyan father can get so close to the most powerful seat in the world, isn't racism at the very least in steep decline?

Obviously not, and the irony is that it's Obama himself keeping it alive.