I was just listening to a fairly uninspired discussion on NPR about race and the coverage of the Democratic primary (while driving to the airport). One interesting tidbit from the Washington Post’s Kevin Merida is that the Obama campaign has met with some serious racial antagonism in Pennsylvania. How extensive it was I couldn’t gather from the conversation. But the n-word was tossed around, some signs burned etc.
Now, let me ask you something. If there was a similarly viable black guy running for president in the GOP primary and he met with anything like this sort of thing, don’t you think there’d be more than a little Krugman-like hysteria about how racist the GOP is? About how conservatism = racism? About how the curtain had been pulled back on the “true nature” of the Republican Party?
But when this happens among Democrats, it seems not to dawn on anyone to make any connection whatsoever between the Democratic Party or liberalism or anything of the sort and racism. Rather, to the extent these things are discussed at all, they are more proof of “America’s original sin,” in the words of one of the panelists.
Now I don’t really object to calling racism America’s original sin. Nor do I really think that racism is anything like a central tenet of the Democratic Party (racialism is another thing and that does breed racism). But I don’t think racism is central to the GOP either. And yet, as sure as shinola, if the situation were reversed, we’d be hearing a drumbeat about how a few isolated incidents like this prove that the GOP is a racist party and how conservatism is intellectualized bigotry.
As I argue at some length in my book, conservatives must own their sins, real and imagined. Liberals get to outsource culpability for their wrongdoing to America writ large, for liberalism is never wrong, never part of the problem and always the only real solution.