I’m as excited as you are. When you’ve already received a contribution to the National Dialogue On Race as rich and nuanced as Bennie Thompson’s, obviously you want more. Let’s check in with CNN for today’s dose of wisdom:
Bash: Isn’t that a racially charged term [to call Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom”]?
Thompson: “For some it is, but to others it’s the truth.”
Bash: Because looking at that and hearing that kind of language, that certainly wouldn’t be appropriate if it was coming from somebody who was white.
Thompson: “But I’m black.”
QED. Look at it from his perspective: He knows he won’t be reprimanded, so why waste time cooking up anything more than pro forma spin?
If you want a fresh take on this nearly exhausted subject, Nate Silver’s got a new data-crunch at FiveThirtyEight that uses eight metrics to try to determine whether white Republicans really are more racist than white Democrats. His answer: Yes, but only marginally (less than single digits) in most measures, and the two metrics that show wide gaps implicate partisan economic views, not just race. Like I said yesterday in my first post on Thompson, it’s difficult for neutral observers to tell how much of the last five years is a reaction to Obama and how much is a reaction to the financial crisis and endless economic woes and “cures” that followed. The two eras overlap nearly perfectly. If many more white Republicans than white Democrats think that “too much” money is spent improving conditions for blacks, how much of that is due to racism and how much is due to Republicans believing that too much money is spent on nearly everything? Same with the wide partisan gap when whites of both parties are asked whether blacks lack the motivation to pull themselves out of poverty. It may be that racial views are affecting that, but the idea that America is the land of opportunity where someone who works hard can find success is basic conservative dogma. Is the recent spike among GOPers on that question a reaction to Obama’s race or is it a reaction to protracted unemployment and demands for ever-extending unemployment benefits among the broader population after the crash of 2008? The answer depends on whether it’s in your political interest to cast the GOP as a party of inveterate racists. I can guess what Thompson would say.