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Why it’s racist to call racists racist

DURHAM, NC – MARCH 01: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts during their game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 1, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke won 79-71. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Steve King is a white supremacist, because he advocates white supremacy on the regular, which is pretty much the definition of a white supremacist.  White supremacy is a racist doctrine, that holds that white people are inherently superior to non-whites, which is why America should remain a nation run by white people, for the benefit of white people.

If you’re following along, this means Steve King is a racist, by his own admission, except of course he doesn’t think he’s a racist, he thinks he’s a “nationalist,” or a “race realist,” or whatever label racists use to describe themselves other than “racist,” because being a racist is bad, so calling someone a racist is bad, because you are saying bad things about them, which is itself is a bad thing to do, because of reasons.

All this is reflected in an email from NBC News management to its reporters, instructing them not to call Steve King’s racist remarks — let alone King himself — racist:

“Be careful to avoid characterizing [King’s] remarks as racist,” reads the email, which two NBC News staffers shared with HuffPost. “It is ok to attribute to others as in ‘what many are calling racist’ or something like that.”

The email was sent to staffers by Susan Sullivan, a senior employee in the standards division at NBC News. In a news organization, the standards department offers guidance and issues rules about what is legally and ethically appropriate to report, and about how certain topics should be covered.

NBC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.

King, an Iowa Republican, has a long history of making racist remarks. The latest controversy came about following the Jan. 10 publication of an interview with The New York Times, where he said: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

Now the interesting question here is why both the GOP and many the right wing opinion makers who give the party its goose stepping orders these days have suddenly decided that Steve King’s racist white nationalism, which he has expressed in an unabashed way many times, suddenly became unacceptable (Note that it isn’t unacceptable enough to cause Donald Trump to say anything negative about Steve King, which is also interesting).

My theory, which is mine, is that it’s very important for members of the right wing in this country to engage in occasional acts of empty symbolism, to make it perfectly clear that they are absolutely not racists or white nationalists or white supremacists or anything like that, and in fact YOU are the racist because you are playing the race card, which is racist.

Prominent examples of this cultural kabuki include the now-quadrennial ritual of an African American scamster running for the GOP presidential nomination, and becoming the frontrunner in the earliest polls, which definitely proves that Republican voters are not racist, and that you are a racist for saying they are racist, which is the real racism by the way.

The ritual defenestration of Steve King is the latest example of how he just had the bad luck to be the loser in this perennial symbolic lottery.

The NBC management email is also a good example of how fantastically successful the right wing working of the media refs over the past several decades has been.  Here you have a situation in which a Republican politician makes a blatantly racist statement, which is so racist that the right wing powers that be decide it provides a good opportunity for the entire Republican power structure to denounce the statement as racist, but much of the “liberal media” [sic] remains too cowed to describe a racist statement by a Republican politician as racist, because that would be evidence of bias. And also racist, possibly.

Update: After the email got leaked, the backlash was apparently severe enough to cause NBC to reverse its position on the can we call Steve King’s racist statements racist question.


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