Stories by Jay Gatsby

Jay Gatsby is the pseudonym of a writer resident in New York City.

Palin Repudiates Racism, Racially

July 15th, 2010 at 10:35 am 33 Comments

Responding – fairly – to the NAACP’s false charge of “racism” in the Tea Party movement, remedy Sarah Palin could not resist an extra jab at our “half black” president.

Full disclosure, I myself share our President’s racial makeup. I am biracial, though I must admit to preferring El Rushbo’s designation of “Halfrican-American”. I was present on the Capitol lawn on the weekend of the passage of Obamacare, a firsthand witness to this silent majority’s recent awakening (not as a participant, just as a coincidental visitor). Though predominantly white, the self-proclaimed tea partiers were also calm, measured, and unfailingly polite.

Media reports claim that the protest degenerated into despicable vitriol directed at Democratic lawmakers, and more specifically members of the Congressional Black Caucus. No video evidence exists of racial slurs being hurled at Congressman John Lewis, and some are skeptical that the incident happened as reported.  It should also be said that the House leadership’s marching of black lawmakers through the fray was an absurdly transparent ploy, a laughable contrivance befitting the equation of the healthcare legislation to the Civil Rights Act. Yet despite the display’s questionable motives, it was perhaps successful in eliciting deplorable sentiment from stray participants.

The resolution passed this weekend by the NAACP treads the same ground, only this time the yahoo lunging for the bait happens to be a former nominee for Vice-President. Appearing on Hannity, Sarah Palin called on President Obama to denounce the NAACP in the wake of its resolution. There’s no question that the organization’s current incarnation is a liberal cudgel. A recent Washington Post article described black voters’ ambivalence toward this year’s midterm elections, and surely the NAACP is looking to galvanize the bloc by casting “us versus them” battle lines. However, instead of holding forth on the intellectual merits of objecting to the President’s agenda, Sarah Palin has fallen into the trap of answering cries of racism, defending the honor of her ideological compatriots by impossibly trying to prove a negative.

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote recently that politics is not about winning arguments, but about deciding which arguments to have. Fairly or not, the tea party and its sympathizers cannot win the racism argument when the lines of our political discourse cast themselves on one side, and the nation’s first black president on the other. That they seem susceptible to believing this is a winnable argument shows not that they are being out-argued, but that they are being outsmarted. Like Wile E. Coyote, they risk chasing the Road Runner off a cliff. Once they realize it and look down, they will inevitably fall.