Welcome to a special "You're really stretching the definition of racism" edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of 1 to RACIST, with “1” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.
- In other "Are you SURE this is racist?" news: the United States government has shut down, a woman tried to drive through the White House gates, and pundits across the media landscape are asking why it's come to this. Well, a University of Pennsylvania associate professor of religious studies, Anthea Butler offered her two cents via Twitter. She's not alone in theorizing that there is a racist element to the GOP's insistence on cockblocking every policy effort by the Obama administration. Salon.com's liberal-outrage zombie robot, Joan Walsh is of the opinion that the government shutdown is the continuation of 50 years of Republican race-baiting. She invokes the now-infamous interview where Lee Atwater, one of Ronald Reagan's key strategists, describes his thoughts on the reasoning behind many key elements of the Republican platform at the time. In the interview, Atwater says:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “N–ger, n–ger, n–ger.” By 1968 you can’t say “n–ger” — that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites … “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N–ger, n–ger.”
Walsh follows that up by saying, "And then you say 'Defund Obamacare,' and everyone knows why." I get that Americans want answers. We all need to understand the rationale (if there is any) behind hitting the breaks on the government and putting people out of work. Claiming that it's all a giant racist conspiracy implies that the entirety of the GOP policy platform is based on hating minorities. It's hard to make that theory stick when the notorious "Southern strategy" hasn't even worked on a national level since Reagan. George H. W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and George W. Bush was speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, nevermind the two-term electoral successes of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. There's certainly an element of the Republican party that foams at the mouth, eager to make racially insensitive remarks about President Obama, like Newt Gingrich calling him the "food stamp president." This budget impasse is a policy disagreement, though. Republicans intrinsically believe that Obamacare is a greivous legislative error, and Democrats will defend the bill they got passed because they think it's the right thing for America. If the president was white, Hispanic, Asian, or a Klingon, Republicans would still hate the Affordable Care Act. The government shutdown gets a 2,and that's only because of the less-than-savory history of the "Southern Strategy." Also, I imagine Joan Walsh tied up in a basement somewhere, forced to type maniacal screeds, like a liberal blogger version of Jesse Pinkman in the last episode of Breaking Bad.