Friday, December 21, 2012

The Puzzle of Black Republicans

Writing at the New York Times (where else?), Adolph L. Reed Jr.:
The cheerleading over racial symbolism plays to the Republicans’ desperate need to woo (or at least appear to woo) minority voters, who favored Mr. Obama over Mitt Romney by huge margins. [Nikki] Haley — a daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India — is the first female and first nonwhite governor of South Carolina, the home to white supremacists like John C. Calhoun, Preston S. Brooks, Ben Tillman and Strom Thurmond...  

Even if the Republicans managed to distance themselves from the thinly veiled racism of the Tea Party adherents who have moved the party rightward, they wouldn’t do much better among black voters than they do now. I suspect that appointments like Mr. Scott’s are directed less at blacks — whom they know they aren’t going to win in any significant numbers — than at whites who are inclined to vote Republican but don’t want to have to think of themselves, or be thought of by others, as racist...  

The trope of the black conservative has retained a man-bites-dog newsworthiness that is long past its shelf life. Clichés about fallen barriers are increasingly meaningless; symbols don’t make for coherent policies. Republicans will not gain significant black support unless they take policy positions that advance black interests. No number of Tim Scotts — or other cynical tokens — will change that.

So let's get this straight: whites vote for black candidates so they, the whites, won't be called or thought of as racists. This, apparently, is racist. Can you get more existential than this? Meanwhile, the columnist who levels accusations of "thinly veiled racism" at the Tea Party has straightjacketed the "interests" of an entire swath of the voting population based solely on the color of their skin.

Even more remarkable is Reed Jr.'s blatant suggestion that voting Republican in and of itself is racist. But this is old hat. If Republicans feature no blacks or other minorities in their campaign spots or rallies, progressives complain that they're being racist and exclusionary. If Republicans do feature blacks, say, then there are accusations of tokenism leveled at Republicans and accusations of Uncle Tom-ism leveled at the black people involved. You sure can't have a coherent conversation with these types of ideologues, but it's great fun to try anyway.

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