A masterpiece of argument by assertion, and a natural progression in the left’s logic on this subject. Step one is taking a conservative message you don’t like and free-associating your way to a theory that it’s racist. Step two, following the angry denials, is to suggest that perhaps the racism is operating subconsciously. Now, after further angry denials, comes step three: The “doth protest too much” theory, speculating that the very intensity of one’s anger at being demagogued by a race-baiting bottom-feeder is proof of just how right that bottom-feeder was.

To be honest, though, I do believe the poster appeals to people who see in it a validation of their own racial prejudices, even if they can’t acknowledge them. That my short post hit such a deep, raw nerve clearly shows that race was very much part of the illustration’s attraction. Denials that the poster has any racial overtones join that endless parade of self-deluding apologies and clarifications presented by Republicans about the Birth of a Nation imagery they’ve been employing ever since Obama ran for president…

No, dude, it’s all about race. Racial anxiety and racism are social pathologies that adapt to changing conditions and evolve over time. Conservatives don’t burn crosses at their rallies – contemporary political theater and its language have moved on with the times. Still, I remember that even back in the days when cross burnings were in vogue — and when it seemed that civil rights workers were being killed every month in the Deep South — even then you would rarely find a segregationist proclaiming, on television at least, that he was a racist and believed blacks were inferior. Instead, the racist argument was usually couched in terms of “state’s rights,” “mutual benefits,” of how Negroes themselves didn’t want race-mixing, that they were basically good, hard-working people who were being duped by Communists…

The truth, again, is that the fears of the art lovers who champion the Obama Socialism poster are all about race – about losing their skin privileges, about the possible airing of old crimes and grievances committed against blacks. How else can you explain the mad surge to buy guns, to deny Obama’s American birth, the teary prediction that the White House is ordering up concentration camps, and the rock-solid belief that Obama’s lab-coated bureaucrats are coming to kill our grandmas? Who’s the real Joker here? And whose deck is that race card being played from?

At the link, as evidence of the “Birth of a Nation” imagery Republicans have been using since the election, you’ll find four examples. One of them is Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro” parody, which was a goof aimed at Al Sharpton’s race-baiting of Obama, and another is the racist e-mail about Skip Gates sent by that cop in Boston, which had nothing to do with The One as far as I know. On this sturdy foundation is the case for Obama/Joker’s racism laid. Exit question: Once the poster, like the burning cross, becomes too taboo to display — a process already in progress — to which nefarious coded racist symbol will right-wingers turn? I’m guessing signs that read “Vote Republican in 2012.”