James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2012
“Everytime [sic] I think the Democratic race card players could not get more vile, more deranged, more patronizingly demeaning to blacks, someone manages to defy even my vivid imagination,” thunders blogger William Jacobson. He’s referring to a passage in a Washington Post editorial about critics of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice — a passage that in our view is useful for its clarity.
At issue is a Nov. 19 letter to the President Obama, written by Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina and signed by 97 House Republicans, which declares that the signatories are “deeply troubled” that the president is considering nominating Rice secretary of state, and that they “strongly oppose” such a nomination.
“Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter,” the letter states. We noted Tuesday with some amusement that Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was claiming that “incompetent” was the latest code word for “black.”
The Post focuses on the critics rather than their choice of words. Here’s the passage that outrages Jacobson: “Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy.”
Let’s examine this argument carefully. The Post acknowledges that “we can’t know their hearts.” But it finds a (literally) prima facie reason to suspect them of invidious motives: Almost all of them are persons of pallor. The Post is casting aspersions on Duncan and his colleagues based explicitly on the color of their skin. And it is accusing them of racism!
A couple of other items related to race and politics caught our attention over the Thanksgiving weekend. First, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., an Illinois Democrat and CBC member, resigned from Congress “amid federal ethics investigations and a diagnosis of mental illness,” as the Chicago Tribune reports. That sets up a special election to fill the vacancy:
Some Democrats quickly offered to broker a nominee to avoid several African-American contenders splitting the vote in the heavily Democratic and majority black 2nd Congressional District, which could allow a white candidate to win.
This passes with neither editorial comment nor a disapproving quote. It’s hard to imagine the same absence of reaction if a group of pols offered “to broker a nominee” with the goal of preventing a black candidate from winning a white-majority district.
The danger for the country is that a racially polarized electorate will produce a hostile, balkanized culture. In 2008 Obama held out the hope of a postracial America. His re-election raises the possibility of a most-racial America.