Green Room

The Power Of Thin Skin

posted at 8:09 pm on January 11, 2010 by

Senator John McCain is under fire for comments made to the authors of a new book, in which he said white people were more likely to vote for Barack Obama because he is “light-skinned” and has “no Negro dialect.”

Fortunately for McCain, honest liberals have been working hard to help him survive the controversy without resigning his office. In a Daily Beast column entitled “McCain Was Right,” Peter Beinart concedes the use of the word “Negro” is “unpleasantly retro,” but adds that “everything else about his statement is undeniably correct. Political scientists have proved it. Famous African-Americans have testified to it.” Even Al Sharpton was gracious enough to dismiss the incident as a “distraction,” after wryly noting that McCain “did not select the best word choice in this instance.”

Oh, wait, hang on a second. It was actually Harry Reid who spoke of the light-skinned Barack Obama and his lack of a Negro dialect, not John McCain. My mistake. I’m sure everything would have played out exactly the same if McCain had said it. After all, there was little controversy over Sarah Palin’s condescending description of Obama as “clean and articulate” during the campaign. Wait, sorry, that was Joe Biden.

Of course there are gigantic double standards for Democrats and Republicans when it comes to uncomfortable racial moments. George Allen, once touted as a strong Republican candidate for the presidency, made the mistake of uttering a weird nonsense word at a rally some years ago, and within a month you could no longer hear the muffled screams and thumping from his political coffin. I’ve heard a few conservatives float the idea that the Harry Reid incident will put hair-trigger racism smears against Republicans to bed for good. That ideal is loaded, kids, and the safety is off. Put it down on the table and back away slowly. Nothing will destroy a promising GOP candidate faster than the foolish belief he can use words half as radioactive as “Negro dialect” and walk away with a hearty slap on the back from Al Sharpton.

The racial double standard is largely a matter of crude political calculation. Many of the same Democrat mouthpieces rushing to help Harry Reid to the fainting couch would pirouette within minutes to attack a Republican in a similar predicament. It’s not all pure political hackery, though. As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal points out, Geraldine Ferraro’s reputation died from a nasty case of the bug Harry Reid seems poised to recover from. The racism double standard is a logical result of “progressive” thinking about matters of race, and the overall goals of collectivism.

Liberals have stated many times that racism exists in the ear of the offended. If a duly consecrated victim group decides to take umbrage at certain language, it automatically becomes toxic, no matter the intentions of the speaker. On the other hand, victim groups can issue blanket absolution to anyone they wish.

Are you a person of color, who found nothing terribly offensive about the career-ending mistakes of Trent Lott or George Allen? That doesn’t matter, because individual members of victim groups are not authorized to grant absolution. Only collective action can achieve racial justice. Only the leaders of a collective can make important decisions on matters affecting shared identity. You cannot achieve social justice, shatter the glass ceiling, or take care of your poor family on your own. Your needs must be cared for by the powerful leaders of your collective group, who maintain their power by promoting an atmosphere of division.

Collectives value solidarity above all other things. A labor union or racial grievance group draws its power from the absolute, unqualified support of its membership… or, at least, the widespread perception they enjoy such support. Maintaining solidarity requires enemies, as the next Republican who refers to anyone with a drop of African-American blood as “light-skinned” will quickly discover. It also requires loyalty, and the swift punishment of treason, as Clarence Thomas – a man very far from the “eighth-grade writer” Harry Reid once dismissed him as – could testify.

A demonstration of collective morality can be seen in the decision by the Democrats and the NAACP to defend Reid by publicizing the voting records of Republicans who have called for his resignation. There is crass political calculation here, of course – liberal organisms like the NAACP are not interested in persecuting a useful ally. If you grant Reid’s defenders a bit of intellectual honesty, you can interpret their actions as an expression of the idea that insults can only be measured by their damage to the collective, not the umbrage of faceless individuals.

Are you a person of color who found Reid’s comments outrageous? Tough. Your feelings are not important to a leadership that defines “outrage” as legislative resistance to their power. It’s not as if Reid ever did anything truly offensive, such as propose a tax cut for the evil rich. Anyone who has done as much as Reid to keep money and power flowing into Washington, where it can be parceled out by politicians loyal to the agenda of the NAACP, has rendered enough service to the collective to excuse a few uncomfortable ruminations about “Negro dialect.”

The selectively thin skins of racial power brokers serve one other purpose, crucial to the collectivist cause: they make it difficult to talk about individuals at all. As Peter Beinart pointed out in the Daily Beast, Harry Reid’s clumsy comments about Obama are technically accurate. To refer back to my own point above, any Republican who makes a comparably accurate observation will be instantly vaporized. This has a corrupting effect on our discourse, by making people too nervous to speak clearly… and muddled speech leads to confused thought. Look at the Transportation Security Agency, which is forbidden to accurately describe what they’re supposed to be protecting us from, and therefore ends up protecting us from hand soap, shoes, Joan Rivers, and Michael Yon.

Tension and hostility are useful to collectivists, because they produce deference to the leadership. Individuals of any color are cautioned not to think too clearly about social justice, racial equality, or how they might achieve these things on their own. Instead, for their own safety, they are directed to seek the guidance of Big Government and its many deputies. Insurance policies against career immolation are available for politicians… at the low, low price of a few billion dollars of their constituents’ tax money.

As a purely tactical matter, Republicans are better off leaving Harry Reid to plod and groan through the halls of the Senate, until the voters of Nevada show up with pitchforks and torches to put him down. As a point of grand strategy, they should never miss a chance to highlight the racism double standard, without developing any delusions about their immunity to it. In the interests of reason, and in the hope of reducing the level of racial pressure in America today, they should remind Harry Reid that apologizing to Obama isn’t good enough, because the truly injured party is the American voter… who is mightily sick and tired of being told he won’t vote for someone whose skin isn’t light enough.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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Wow, thanks, Doc.

Robert17 on January 11, 2010 at 8:55 PM

Sharpton past exploits to accomplished a high standard of living makes even the most talented of whores jealous.

July/August 2008 … who said Republicans were trying to scare voters by suggesting that Barack Obama “don’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” …

Americannodash on January 11, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Right on, Doctor Zero.

Let Harry go down, the same way Daschle went down, Mitchell “did not seek re-election”…

Perhaps Senate Democrat Leader Schumer will do better.

Mew

acat on January 11, 2010 at 10:14 PM

I still say we should not allow this to be forgotten. The same Democrat Party led by Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Robert Byrd and Bill Clinton should not be allowed to depict themselves as “champions of racial justice” with impunity and in perpetuity.

Cylor on January 12, 2010 at 12:48 AM

I still say we should not allow this to be forgotten. The same Democrat Party led by Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Robert Byrd and Bill Clinton should not be allowed to depict themselves as “champions of racial justice” with impunity and in perpetuity.

Cylor on January 12, 2010 at 12:48 AM

And why now? That same Democratic Party was led by a “champion of womens’ rights”, that “liberal lion” Ted Kennedy, fighting for their right to seek abortions of pregnancies “co-authored” by men on the make, and paid for on the federal dime if possible, and for the right to artfully arrange themselves as the meat in a “waitress sandwich”.

tpitman on January 12, 2010 at 9:52 AM

After all, there was little controversy over Sarah Palin’s condescending description of Obama as “clean and articulate” during the campaign. Wait, sorry, that was Joe Biden.

Just for giggles, some ought to ‘Tip off’ the media that a republican has said this and see what their reaction is – just before they realize it was a Dem that said it..

Chip on January 12, 2010 at 1:15 PM

As a purely tactical matter, Republicans are better off leaving Harry Reid to plod and groan through the halls of the Senate, until the voters of Nevada show up with pitchforks and torches to put him down. As a point of grand strategy, they should never miss a chance to highlight the racism double standard, without developing any delusions about their immunity to it.

This is a great takeaway, and I’m glad to see it here.

Esthier on January 12, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Just for giggles, some ought to ‘Tip off’ the media that a republican has said this and see what their reaction is – just before they realize it was a Dem that said it..

Chip on January 12, 2010 at 1:15 PM

If I had the power, I’d do it on a regular basis and let the story evolve slowly like the ACORN videos.

Esthier on January 12, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Sharpton past exploits to accomplished a high standard of living makes even the most talented of whores jealous.

July/August 2008 … who said Republicans were trying to scare voters by suggesting that Barack Obama “don’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” …

Americannodash on January 11, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Let’s put his picture on the Trillion-Dollar Bill. He made us need it.

Steve Z on January 12, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Let’s test Sharptons’, et al, mettle.

Not gratuitously, but at strategic points in conversation, have a well-known conservative use the term “negro”. It would have to be in a racially-sterile setting, though, and always complimentary.

BobMbx on January 12, 2010 at 1:26 PM

I believe that many Americans voted for Obama for two reasons. (1) He appeared to be an acceptable candidate, and (2) electing a black president would absolve them of any racial guilt, and we could move forward as a country without the albatross of never having placed a minority in our most esteemed position.

But now we are told that Obama isn’t really black enough. And we can have the race debate over and over again, until we elect some black Somali terrorist as President just to show how open minded we are.

alflauren on January 12, 2010 at 1:38 PM

If a duly consecrated victim group decides to take umbrage at certain language, it automatically becomes toxic, no matter the intentions of the speaker.

LOL! A reason my husband likes to argue with me.
I am always saying something innocent & evidently it wasn’t in the roght ‘tone’.
I can never win.
Likewise, the GOP can never win with these folks.
Americans do really need to stand up & vote with their minds bcs this PC thing is brodering on ultimate insanity.

Badger40 on January 12, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Just for giggles, some ought to ‘Tip off’ the media that a republican has said this and see what their reaction is – just before they realize it was a Dem that said it..

Chip on January 12, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Pick any news outlet like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS etc.
They’ll fall for it.
It’s not like they do any fact checking.

Badger40 on January 12, 2010 at 1:41 PM

***
The same DOUBLE STANDARD used in “race” is also used in “gay” and “corruption” statements. Democrat=O.K., Republican=ABOMINATION!
***
Example–”toe tapping” by a R in a toilet stall=run him out of office. Bwaney Fwank–D– gay hookers, pot in basement–anything goes!
***
Sarah Palin–R–phony ethics charges–TRASH HER! No fact checking needed. Charlie Rangle–D–tax problems–MOVE ALONG–nothing to see here.
***
I think I’m starting to see a pattern here! This skunk stinks!–and it only took me 30 years to catch on!
***
John Bibb
***

rocketman on January 12, 2010 at 1:44 PM

I don’t know who you are, O mysterious Doctor Zero, but you need to be blogging somewhere under your real name and for pay. You rawk.

alwaysfiredup on January 12, 2010 at 1:53 PM

How did John McCain get dragged into this screw-up?

LarryG on January 12, 2010 at 2:01 PM

I don’t know who you are, O mysterious Doctor Zero, but you need to be blogging somewhere under your real name and for pay. You rawk.

alwaysfiredup on January 12, 2010 at 1:53 PM

I do! http://www.doczero.org.

Doctor Zero on January 12, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Look,if John McCain had a long association with a guy who’d bombed abortion clinics, I don’t think people would say, ‘That’s ancient history,’.

jukin on January 12, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Reid enjoys talking about people; here is an excert from newbusters Dec.2008.

Story Continues Below Ad ↓

Reid: We won’t smell the tourists anymore

The Capitol Visitors Center, which opened this morning, may have tripled its original budget and fallen years behind schedule, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid found a silver lining for members of Congress: tourists won’t offend them with their B.O. anymore.

“My staff tells me not to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway,” said Reid in his remarks. “In the summer because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol. It may be descriptive but it’s true.”

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2008/12/03/harry-reids-smelly-tourists-comment-no-republican-or-conservative-would-#ixzz0cQhKmfaV

la.rt.wngr on January 12, 2010 at 2:55 PM

Insurance policies against career immolation are available for politicians… at the low, low price of a few billion dollars of their constituents’ tax money.

Quote of the day, heck– the YEAR. Do you have any extra brain I could borrow, Zero? Wow.

leftnomore on January 12, 2010 at 3:02 PM

…they should remind Harry Reid that apologizing to Obama isn’t good enough, because the truly injured party is the American voter… who is mightily sick and tired of being told he won’t vote for someone whose skin isn’t light enough.

A lot of people have focused on that aspect of the Harry Reid quote that I’m amazed that they haven’t noticed just how damning another aspect the quote really is for Obama:

He was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” as he later put it privately.

Essentially, by Reid claiming that Obama didn’t have a “Negro dialect” “unless he wanted to have one”, he was accusing Obama of using ‘shuck and jive’ terminology whenever it was politically expedient.

Much more disparaging and damaging in that respect, IMHO.

KendraWilder on January 12, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Reid is basically stating Obama is the exception, that he perceives most blacks to be dark-skinned with a thick negro dialect. Because Obama is different he would be a good boy candidate for president.

la.rt.wngr on January 12, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I would prefer to see Ol’Reid loose by double digits than to see him resign. Democrats do what Democrats do. However, that doesn’t stop us from making a big noisy fuss over their hypocrisy.

BetseyRoss on January 12, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Hypocrisy in the defense of fellow liberals is no vice. And even handedness in the pursuit of Republicans is no virtue. Or something.

MB4 on January 12, 2010 at 4:58 PM

I wonder if Colonel Allen West is too dark for me to vote for him… hmmmm, pretty dark. Oh, wait a minute. I work for him (weekend warrior for his campaign). I suppose that gives me a pass on his skin tone. Whew! What a relief.

lionheart on January 13, 2010 at 7:30 AM