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A little story about talking about race and racism

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A sports message board on which I’ve hung out for 20 years now has gradually degenerated into a place where people post as least as much about politics as about sports.  The site has become badly split between right and left wingers (in the context of a sports message board a left winger is somebody who doesn’t want to abolish capital gains taxes), and the right wingers are feeling very frisky these days.

One thing the right wing posters absolutely despise is being called racists, which of course none of them are (just ask them).  In fact they love to point out that “PC” accusations of racism, demands for safe spaces and transgender rights, etc.– you know the drill — are what got Trump elected president, and even though Trump is pretty awful he’s still better than that crook Hillary.  One of these people posted this after Joe Biden got the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

OBAMA/BIDEN COMBO IS LIKE DEAN MARTIN/JERRY LEWIS COMBO

Growing up, I used to think Martin was the brain behind their act Lewis showed up for shooting and clowned in front of the camera, Actually it was other way around Lewis was the brain and Martin was a derelict.

People think Obama was the brain and Biden was just clowning. Actually Biden was the brain behind the presidency. He worked with Dem special interest groups an pollsters and set the agenda for Obama’s presidency. Obama’s role was to give soaring speeches using teleprompters and then go play golf.

Biden totally deserved the medal he received yesterday. He has been the de facto President.

I don’t know anything about Martin & Lewis so I have no idea whether what this guy is saying about them has any basis in reality, but the claim about Obama and Biden is of course comically absurd, based on all available evidence.

I admire Joe Biden as a politician, but nothing in either his academic record (he finished near the bottom of his class at Delaware and Syracuse as an undergrad and law student respectively) or, more pertinently, his very long public career has ever given anyone the impression that he is some sort of heavy lifter, intellectually speaking.

Both academically and professionally, the contrast with Obama’s resume couldn’t appear to be greater.  Of  course to your standard right winger none of this apparent evidence is real, because Obama’s sterling academic record is a product of Affirmative Action, and his books were written by Bill Ayers, and he just reads a teleprompter and then goes to play golf while the Svengali behind the whole business does the hard work of governance.  (I will admit that picking Joe Biden, of all people, as the brains behind the operation, seems innovative, but the rest of of the narrative about the shiftless black man who has cheated his way through life so that he can crash a country club sport in his copious spare time is standard right wing rhetorical fare).

Now what interests me about this is the contrast between the incredibly obvious racism that fuels this narrative, and especially something like the bizarre elevation of Joe Biden to behind the scenes mastermind status, and the ferocity with which the people who believe and repeat this narrative deny — quite sincerely, to all appearances — any racist motivation for their beliefs.

If I were to sum up in eight words the social forces that have led to the fact that Donald Trump will be president of the United States a week from today, those words would be: racists don’t like to be told they’re racists.

 

 

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