September 15, 2009
When country artist Taylor Swift won the “Best Female Video” award at the MTV Music Awards Sunday night, hip-hop artist Kanye West jumped onstage, grabbed her microphone and declared that singer Beyonce Knowles, not Swift, had the best video. Why would a black man humiliate a young white girl to protest her beating a black woman for an award for best video? Racism, pure and simple.
How can I be so sure that West’s actions were racist? I can’t nor is it even necessary to go there. West’s rude behavior was bad enough without having to attribute some sort of racial motive that would be arguable at best.
But some insist on finding racism in everything anyway. When Rep. Joe Wilson shouted “you lie!” during Obama’s speech on healthcare last week most believed his behavior to be rude, including many who agreed with his sentiment and even the congressman himself, who later apologized. But Wilson is a white man who misbehaved during a speech by a black president. For liberal columnist Maureen Dowd, it was race, not rudeness, that told the real story: “Surrounded by middle-aged white guys—a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club—Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!’ at a president who didn’t. But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!”
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For Dowd, that he thought Obama was being deceptive didn’t just make Wilson emotionally angry-he was reverting to his true Southern, segregationist self. Continues Dowd: “The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear’ the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ‘48 segregationist candidate for president. Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber.”
There you have it. Wilson is not only a Southerner, but a proud one who blindly defended the honor of a decades-long senator who was as revered in South Carolina as Ted Kennedy was in Massachusetts, someone Democrat partisans, of course, would never stoop to defend. Given Wilson’s hate-filled hillbilly heritage as outlined by Dowd, the columnist assumes the congressman’s primary beef was having to endure a speech by an intelligent black man, not what that black man was actually saying. Though wildly speculative, that Wilson might harbor racial prejudice is at least arguable. That Dowd is prejudiced is not.
Dowd’s description of Wilson is a cartoon caricature of what liberals assume conservative whites, particularly Southerners who still hold onto their heritage, are really like. Through the filter of racial and identity politics that informs the Leftist mind, we have seen this liberal prejudice on full display the last few months, where too many politicians and pundits don’t simply see tea partiers and town hall protesters who are angry about big government—but racist, redneck whites who are just pissed off that the president is black. Dowd even admits her prejudice: “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.”
On the morning after West humiliated Swift on television, I posted a blog entitled “Kanye West Hates White People” which was both a take-off on West’s comments during the Hurricane Katrina disaster that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” and my own intentionally absurd, “racist” example to parody the Left’s logic against Obama critics like Wilson. Many of the responses I received agreed that West’s behavior was rude but wanted to know on what grounds was I accusing the rapper of being racist? Where was the evidence? I really don’t have any and that’s the point. Neither does Maureen Dowd.
Dowd simply assumes racism must be the reason for the anger directed at Obama based on her own stereotypical perceptions of white conservatives and Southerners, with little to no contextual evidence to vindicate her assertion. That Taylor Swift is white and Kanye West is black does not necessarily make the rapper a racist despite his bad behavior. And that President Obama is black and Joe Wilson is white does not necessarily make the congressman a racist despite his bad behavior—not to mention his region of origin and Maureen Dowd’s imagination.