Any other claim from a person of color gets automatically dismissed as more of that old, tired reverse-racist grievance politics. It’s usually accompanied with a scornful response like “Grow up, you old race dinosaur. Get a life. Get real. We have a black man as president. Join the 21st century.”
Insisting that the racist tendencies of America are still operating on all cylinders gets you that kind of reaction.
And then, because the racism is so obvious, and no one hears your cry, one tends to accept it as the reality of the new America. Save the wails for the extreme cases. Crying racism about the norm just doesn’t make it today.
That is, unless a white liberal columnist like Maureen Dowd finally gets it enough to wake up her white readers in the New York Times about a certain Southern congressman’s outcry during President Barack Obama’s health care address last week.
Said Rep. Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) to the President: “You lie!”
The president didn’t of course. Not like George W. Bush ever did.
But Wilson’s charge has since made him a hero and darling to those who share his same segregationist values. Wilson is a Son of Confederate Veterans, who fights for the rights to wave the Dixie flag and decries the truth of segregationist Strom Thurmond’s bi-racial child as a smear.
Wilson has a difficult time with the truth. But his outburst made Dowd realize a truth:
In today’s column, “Boy, oh, boy” Dowd wrote: “I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.
I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.
But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.”
Welcome to the ethnic truth, Maureen. Those of us who write primarily for the ethnic media have heard the drumbeats loudly before Wilson’s shout. Hopefully your readers will snap to, as you have.
With race as a subtext, Wilson shows that health care reform led by America’s first black president is made to order for those who yearn for the second coming of the civil war.