Playing the Race Card

RaceCardby Jerry Richardson   8/13/14
Here’s is a criticism of George W. Bush while he was President:

“You might have thought that now isn’t the most opportune time for the elected leaders of both the United States and Iraq to pack up and head to the beach, ranch or villa for a nice long vacation. Silly you.
—-
“You were right, of course — it’s unbelievable that the Iraqi parliament is taking a month-long vacation, that Congress has left for its traditional August recess and that George W. Bush is heading off to Kennebunkport and then to Texas. What you failed to take into account is that none of this really matters, because the war in Iraq is on autopilot.

“If you listened to Bush at his news conference yesterday, you heard a man who’s not about to let something as petty as objective reality change his mind — and who’s not going to pay attention to what the Iraqi government or even his own government might say or do….
—-
“At least now maybe people will understand what I’ve been saying for months, which is that Bush doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. He doesn’t care that the Iraqi government has failed to meet its political benchmarks. He doesn’t care that Maliki is getting so cozy with the mullahs in Tehran. He doesn’t care that Republicans in Washington are getting so nervous about having to face an election with the war still raging and no end in sight.”

Criticism from Eugene Robinson

I expect you to notice the similarity of the criticism in the above article to some of the criticism currently being aimed at President Obama—that’s the reason that I chose the article.

The quoted criticism was penned by The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who is a black man.  The article, entitled BUSH’S VACATION FROM REALITY was posted in The Washington Post on August 10, 2007.

Now my question: Was Robinson’s criticism of President George W. Bush motivated by racism (Robinson is black and Bush is white)?

I don’t have to do any face-pulling or mental pro-and-con-ing to give my answer.

My answer is that criticism of any US President, ipso facto, does not equate to racism.  I also state that I do not know whether Robinson was, when writing the above criticism, motivated by racism.  Why?  I have no sufficient evidence—a statement or action of his, or a description of action from someone I trust—that clearly indicates that Robinson harbors racial dislike or racial enmity for George W. Bush.  I might surmise, out of my own bias, about this, but I do not knowNote: My own bias?  I distrust liberal/Progressive journalists, especially those who write for The Washington Post or The New York Times.

Robinson obviously dislikes Bush’s ideology and his policies, but that is NOT racism.  At least it hasn’t always been.

Now let’s move our focus to President Barack Obama.

“One feature of political debate in the Obama years is that it is common for the president’s defenders to ascribe racial motives to his critics. It’s so common, in fact, that it’s usually not newsworthy.”  —Accusations of Racism

People, often conservatives, dislike Barack Obama, not because of the color of his skin, but for the same reasons that some people disliked President George W. Bush: His ideology and his policies.  And that is not racism.  At least it hasn’t always been. However, it seems that times have changed, now that Barack Obama is president:

Paul Krugman today [August 7, 2009] in the New York Times writes that the motivation of those turning out to town halls across the nation is “racial anxiety.” And yesterday, in the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott wrote that a poster depicting Mr. Obama as the Joker in Batman movies, with the word “socialism” running underneath, “is ultimately a racially charged image.”

Both arguments were tortuous in the extreme, as they had to be, but were made nonetheless because they raise a sign that says, “Stop! Criticizing the President is racist.”  —Criticizing the President

“So, if you ever opposed, say, President Obama for just about anything, it couldn’t be an honest disagreement over policy – not as far as those good white liberals are concerned. It must be because you’re a bigot.  You think Eric Holder is doing a lousy job.  That proves just one thing.  You hate him because he’s black.”  Angry White Guys

Conservatives, myself included, resent when we are accused of racism for criticizing, justly we believe, President Obama—the list of racist-labeled criticisms of Obama continues to grow. The non-subtle purpose of the racism accusation is, of course, to stigmatize those who criticize and to silence their criticism.

What is wrong with this sort of accusation, this guilt by someone’s assertion?

Two things:

  1. It is unjust to claim that an individual or individuals have an improper motive without sufficient evidence for such an accusation.
  2. An unjust impugning of the motives of another person poisons the well of discourse. How much desire do you have for civil discourse with someone who, you strongly feel, has unjustly accused you of something?  For further evidence, all we need do is look at how unjust accusations of racism have virtually destroyed potential opportunities for productive debate and discussion of actual, as opposed to fictitious, racism (of both white and black) in America.

A plausible finesse to defeat the above critique of impugning individual motives does not work.

The finesse I am talking about uses an indefinite quantifier, often the word some in a statement such as “surely you don’t disagree that some people who criticize Obama are racists.”  

Obviously the statement works for truth if some is equal to 1.  All it takes is for some to equal 1 to make the statement true.

However, truth alone is hardly-ever enough when we are dealing with indefinite quantities in real-world situations (not in textbook logic situations).

We need to consider significance.

Surely the most adamant race-hustler, e.g., an Al Sharpton would not argue that 1 or a few racist persons out of thousands would be significant—uh, on the other hand, being a race-hustler, perhaps he would argue.  But how are we to evaluate the significance if the quantifier is only some?

If we don’t have actual knowledge, only our surmise, only a guess, about the significance of the quantifier; is it proper for us to take the liberty of tossing around an accusation that may be true yet insignificant and hence unjust to many people?

© 2014, Jerry Richardson • (927 views)

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4 Responses to Playing the Race Card

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    The way to fight back is by denouncing liberals as false accusers, and pointing out that the commandment against “bearing false witness” is one of the main reasons liberals obamanate the Ten Commandments. Simply playing defense is useless; attack them where they’re weak (their hypocrisy and total lack of civility, integrity, and in fact any ethical standard other than political expediency).

    Incidentally, you first refer to Eugene Robinson (whom I usually call Boobinson) as Robertson. I suspect Brad can fix that.

  2. Jerry Richardson says:

    Timothy…thank you for your thoughtful comment:

    “The way to fight back is by denouncing liberals as false accusers, and pointing out that the commandment against “bearing false witness” is one of the main reasons liberals obamanate the Ten Commandments.”

    I like your comment, and I agree with your sentiments; but, in honesty, I must point out that I do not consider unjust impugning of motives to equate to “bearing false witness.”

    In the customary sense, a person cannot witness a motive.

    A person may witness an action which is the result of a motive, but not the motive itself. You cannot see or hear a motive; a motive must be revealed by the person who owns the motive or inferred by another person by some means.

    I consider unjust impugning of motives to be a type of rush to judgment; where the rush is in the sense of bypassing the effort, or perhaps the need, for marshaling and presenting sufficient evidence.

    I believe that the frequency of unjust impugning of motives is increasing due in major part to modern communication technology. For example, the very format of Twitter (140 characters) practically mandates assertions as opposed to even brief analysis.
    And when the Twitter topic happens to be a disliked person, assertions often seem to get phrased as accusations—with never enough space or time to provide sufficient evidence for the accusation.

    As Marshall McLuhan famously said: “The Medium is the Message.”

    Most people today live in a hurry, and many just want “the bottom line.” I appreciate Stubborn Things because I believe that people, such as you, who post and read here, are committed to correctness, not just to what will coast-easy through the multitude of short and impatient attention-spans.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One must remember that the word “prejudice” comes from “pre-judging”, so we can reasonably say that the liberal assumption that every disagreement springs from racism is at minimum a claim reflecting political prejudice. One might also note that “bigoted” actually means being closed-minded to the point of being intolerant of disagreement. Thus, it’s very reasonable say that every liberal who assumes (or says he does) that all opposition to the Black God stems from racism is bigotedly prejudiced against those opponents.

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