Sometimes, the quote simply speaks for itself:
“Well, talk about racism, that was a racist tinged question from David Gregory,” she said. “He made it sound like if you’re black, you are on food stamps and the President is referring to you as being on food stamps. I think that’s racist.” [Sarah Palin speaking to Sean Hannity, via TPM]
Victim politics demands that the real suffering of others must be made invisible. In its place comes the claim of precisely the injury actually done to those others, but now alleged to be suffered by the speaker.
Everyone reading here knows this dance, of course. But still, it’s important to keep calling this out.
To do so: let me just say as clearly as possible what, again, we all know: that when Palin calls David Gregory racists because Mr. Gregory had the temerity to ask Gingrich a question about his use of racist signalling — why then you have as perfect a measure as can be imagined of how much the modern Republican Party sees refighting the Civil War** (on the wrong side) as its only remaining path to power.
Bluntly: Palin and Gingrich and a Republican Party that tolerates them trade on race fear and race hatred for political gain. Evil is not, I think, too strong a word to describe either the sincere or cynical wielding of this particular cudgel.
It could work. It has in the past. And hence the obligation: every time a Palin or a Gingrich — or any of them — plays to that voter on the margin they think they can capture with a coded appeal to racism, it’s time to name and shame. It isn’t much, I know, but the goal is to raise the psychic cost of actually pulling the lever for and against the color of the candidates’ skin that much higher.
To put it another way: anyone who thinks that the next election is going to be even the least bit easy isn’t paying attention.
*A false dichotomy, I know.
**Really, restaging the post-reconstruction assertion of white supremacy following Hayes-Tilden fiasco, but that’s not nearly iconic enough to put over my meaning.
Image: J. W. M. Turner, The Slave Ship, 1840. (And yes, I know I’ve posted this one before, but I love it and it works here. Plus, I get to look at it whenever I head over to the MFA.)