If Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive and observing today’s political theater, he would be writing a speech entitled, “I have a nightmare.” The American left has transformed King’s struggle for equal rights into a race to the bottom in political ethics. The 2012 election season demonstrated that the shameless abuse of the allegation of “racist” against opponents of the leftist agenda knows no bounds.
This past week the victim was the new Republican U.S. senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott. Scott is a former U.S. representative appointed to the post by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and is the first black U.S. senator from the South since Reconstruction. But he is “not black enough” for professors at Harvard and the guardians of civil-rights orthodoxy in the news media.
Welcome to the Orwellian world of American politics. In our new politically correct universe, a public official will be labeled racist if he opposes racial quotas, and he will be called “anti-civil rights” if he wants only warm-body citizens to vote, not cemetery residents. And, he will be smeared as “anti-immigrant” if doesn’t think illegal aliens should be voting in local school board elections.
Yet, while it is easy for rational people to dismiss such partisan antics as juvenile and absurd, the sad truth is that all too often this tactic works. Many people are effectively intimidated and silenced, and an entire generation of young voters has learned a new vocabulary for discussing social policy and economic progress.
What we most need to understand about this new censorship of political debate is that there is an implicit ideological agenda in play. Since actual racists are a vanishing breed, surrogate bogeymen must be found to serve the left’s big-government agenda.
The political left is working hard to redefine racism to include opposition to any leftist policy that promotes the expansion of government social services to low-income minorities. To the extent they are successful, the contemporary socialist agenda is effectively immunized against honest criticism.
To the American left and orthodox Democratic thinking, ending racism and racial discrimination requires an end to “disparate impact” in all social and economic policies. This new standard has become the new watchword for civil-rights enforcement, and any opposition to its expanded application is now called racist. The important thing to understand about the “disparate impact” standard is that as applied in courts of law, it has nothing to do with a conscious intent to discriminate. All that is necessary to prove disparate impact is to show a statistical disparity in the effects of a particular policy or practice on blacks, Hispanics, women, or any “protected class.”
What this means in political terms is that all inequalities in American life are now potentially defined as the products of racial discrimination. Thus, courts are implicitly accepting the Marxist left’s ideological claim that American society and institutions are racist to the core.
KKK’s first targets were Republicans – read how Democrats started the group in “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White”
It is no accident that the racism canard is used only against conservatives and Republicans, despite the historical fact that, as Mark Steyn has noted, for 50 years the Ku Klux Klan functioned as the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, and it was Republicans who brought civil rights to America in the mid-20th century. For example, no one knows because our history books do not record that in 1950, a local white Republican businessman named Barry Goldwater led the fight to integrate Phoenix public schools – four years before Brown v. Board of Education. That story is not told because it does not fit the liberal mythology.
Perhaps the most outrageous abuse of the “race card” in politics today is the way criticism of the Obama administration is often dismissed as “racist in origin” because Obama is the first black president: If you don’t like his policies, you must be a racist. That non-sequitur argument would not get a passing D-minus grade in a high school debate class, but it is used by Obama apologists to intimidate and silence critics.
We all remember that Obama was sold to 2008 voters as the man who could bring about a “post-racial America.” But instead, just the opposite has happened: Obama and his minions have doubled down on playing the race card as the key to political victories at the ballot box and in legislative chambers. Thus, Sen. Tim Scott must be immediately slandered as anti-civil rights. The evidence? He is a Republican.
This race to the bottom in the character of political rhetoric is not a small thing; it is a very dangerous and poisonous development. When the language of politics is corrupted, our thinking and our choices will be corrupted. Citizens and political leaders who adopt the language of the left will soon be voting for their agenda as well.