Admittedly I've been avoiding most of the "you lie"/Rep. Wilson mess since it happened. I preferred not to contribute to what I considered low hypocrisy on the part of Wilson and the media frenzy that followed. Not to say I wasn't ticked, but I figured there were bigger things to worry about (i.e. my boss not eating me alive today for one).
Last night I stumbled across KO for the first time in a couple of weeks (I guess since the Wilson mess) and heard the dreaded R word - race. At first I sort of laughed a little. Race? Wilson was just being a jackass. How does that have anything to do with racism or race issues? Wasn't this just Keith being a little out there? I normally agree with most things Countdown but not always. And I thought maybe this was one of those "not always" bits. But then I read about Jimmy Carter thinking the same thing. And then I clicked on "white supremists" on jezebel and found out that Wilson has a history of supporting white segregationists with confederate flag complexes. I think that last bit is perhaps a stretch on calling Wilson racist or anything, but it does sort of get to the heart of the question: does race play a role in all of this vitrolic Obama hate from the right?
I'm one of those naive people who likes to say they understand the role race plays in modern America, all the while being white and middle-class and completely incapable of understanding the role race plays in modern America. I've never dared to say we're in a post-racial society though, because, quite frankly, I know better. I know people. I've heard things. We're not even close to being there. But I did think, again naively, that Obama getting elected meant there were more of us than them. And the "them" was not as vocal and/or adament as one might imagine.
I guess I'm a little shocked, because I've just realized I'm wrong. Or that I was wrong. Or stupid or whatever you want to call it. I didn't want to think these vocal minorities were inherently incensed because of race. (I still don't want to think it.) I also didn't want to be a person who screamed "racism" at every person who had some kind of criticism or complaint, regardless of its accuracy or not.
Aside: A repub friend of mine accused me of throwing out the racism label a little too freely a while back. We were having a discussion about Rush Limbaugh, and while Iwas completely right - that dude is racist (among a whole litany of offenses to pile in the racist column is the fact he was fired from Monday Night Football for making, ahem, racist comments and the lovely, lovely "Barack the Magic Negro" song he played over and over again on his radio show during the election cycle) - I was also self-aware enough to know that she was right. I could very easily throw out the word "racist" and have no qualms about labeling just about anyone I thought was a bit of an ass on the right. I didn't do that, of course, but I could have done that. Labeling a hate-monger or nut-job racist wasn't a big deal to me. Given my recent realization about my propensity to label, fairly or not, I didn't want to fall into the "cry wolf" category if I could help it.
All of this said, I'm not at all calling Rep Wilson a racist. I have no idea if he is or not. I hope he's not. But I've naively blundered my way into thinking the world is a happy, nicer place because Obama is president. It's not. And I'm beginning to think, slowly and haltingly, that race is playing more of a role in the diatribe than I'd ever cared to admit before.
What do you think? Are people calling it correctly?
Oh and I think Jezebel hit it right on when they gave Matt Lauer what for for asking if it's worse to be racist or to have the label of racist thrown around. Um, what do you think, Mr. Privileged White Boy? I'd say it might be worse to be abused than to be called an abuser. Let's ask Rihanna or Chris Brown who has it worse. Bad example. Let's ask Rihanna in 20 years once she's come to her senses who had it worse. (Don't get me started on that stupid Chris Brown song making the rounds because of some dumb wedding dance. People are idiots.)