The "R" Word

Not so long ago, dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now it's the highest form of racism, apparently, as an internet meme has it. The Anchoress has a good round-up on "racers" --people who, like birthers and truthers, believe in a conspiracy of racism behind every objection to liberalism.

I expect nothing better from MoDo, but I am disturbed by how many of my liberal friends --genuine friends-- are persuading themselves that all the tea partiers are Southern racists (and, to go along with: the crowd wasn't really that big, the pictures were faked, it's all a big racist conspiracy).

Many people have noticed the reverse racism involved in political correctness: "the soft bigotry of low expectations," the idea that because a person (in this case the President) is black, he can't take the rough and tumble of debate.

What I've realized in go-rounds with a few old chums is that calling a person a racist is the equivalent of calling a black man the "n" word. It's a way of saying, "I don't recognize your humanity, and consider it beneath my station to engage you as an equal."

I've just finished reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the parallel is striking. The slaveholder's rejoinder to any word of truth or justice from a black man is always: "N-----!" As if that were all the rebuttal required.

Now we have Times columnists, an ex-President, and too many others, who have found their own "N-word" with which to dehumanize their perceived inferiors. It's vile; our public life is populated with Simon Legrees.

The difference is that I think few people are being cowed by the accusation this go-round --more's the pity for people with actual racial grievances, who'll find themselves less heard after all this crying wolf.