Racism accusations are delivered by white people speaking on behalf of black people and black people speaking on behalf of white people for an agenda that is not about race, but about power and wealth. These accusations have become increasingly ludicrous as they have become disconnected from actual racism and even from race.
On MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell insisted that “golfer” is a racial stereotype and Chris Matthews dubbed “Chicago” a racial codeword. Besides the obvious display of hackery, the search for codewords is a sign of how abstract racism has become. Racism is no longer a slur or a stereotype of a black man, but any criticism directed at a Democrat who happens to be black.
The decline of racism and the unholy union of race and government have turned it into a wholly abstract thing that means nothing at all. The language of racism no longer has a coherent grammar. Racial accusations are everywhere, but they no longer mean anything because they have lost even their most tenuous connections to race. The national grammar of race has shifted and while liberals talk incessantly about race, they have nothing to actually say about it.
Racism was never really about race, it was about power. It was about power when slave votes and slave labor were being used to shift the balance of power. And it is about power when black votes and accusations of racism are used to shift the balance of power. And in one of history’s great ironies, the same Party was responsible for both sets of actions. The ideology, whether that of the permanent racial inferiority of black people of yesterday’s Democratic Party or the permanent social inferiority of black people in today’s Democratic Party, was and is just the clothing that the naked emperor wears on his power trips.
Racism still endures in the nooks and crannies of the country, but it isn’t the kind of racism that’s talked about in the news. It’s the unextraordinary and unexceptional bigotry of small petty men, of any color and creed, who practice their small mean-spirited acts outside the law. This is not the political racism that we talk about as a national phenomenon. That political racism is not about a man being beaten outside a bar, it’s about the power of the bar’s lawyers to wield unlimited authority in the name of a problem that can never go away, no matter how abstract it becomes, because they have turned it into the source of their power.
Real racism is slowly dying out, but political racism can never go away. Instead it is rediscovered in ordinary words, in “Golfer” and in “Chicago.” The more it declines, the more it emerges everywhere in dogwhistles and hidden codes that become more and more abstract until no one can find it anymore.
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