For the sake of convenience, I’ve decided to call people like Maureen Dowd, who see hidden racism in every complaint about Obama, “racers.”
If I could sum up the underpinnings of their position, it would be a riff on Descartes’s proof of existence: “I think, therefore I am.” For racers, it goes something like this: “I think it, therefore it is.”
Such thoughts don’t require logic or evidence—just a gut feeling, a hunch, and to racers that makes them real. To understand the extent of the racers’ projections, and read how much they demonize those on the Right, you need only wade through the comments section of the Dowd piece. I’ll just offer one fairly typical example to give you the flavor of what I’m talking about:
All you have to do is look at the photographs of the people at the protest Saturday in Washington and at the ones showing up to scream at town hall meetings. They look like the wild-eyed crazies that showed up to throw tomatoes at black children trying to go to integrated schools in Little Rock in the 1950s. It’s the same bunch. They can’t stand black people and they’d rather burst their own blood vessals and scream until their veins bloat out of their necks than get used to the fact that it is the 21st century. From their attitudes to their hairdos, everything about them screams 1950s racists.
The hairdo theory of racism—heaven help us.
It’s an odd thing, isn’t it? With the election of Barack Obama, many of us (I include myself among them) thought for one brief shining moment that race relations in this country would improve. But it turns out that if racism really ceased to exist (which of course it has not), racers would have to invent it. With the precipitous decline of overt racism against black people, racers must imagine covert racism everywhere to take up the slack.
[NOTE: For those who are interested in actual history rather than projection, I offer a glimpse back in time to an era when the racism a black person experienced in the House of Representatives was all too real. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was the first black person elected to the House from New York, back in 1944. He was a controversial figure who ultimately was censured by the House for some shady financial practices, but he was also instrumental in some important fights against a racism that was blatant and open:
As one of only two black Congressmen, Powell challenged the informal ban on black representatives using Capitol facilities reserved for white members only. He took black constituents to dine with him in the “whites only” House restaurant. He clashed with the many segregationists in his own party…He passed legislation that made lynching a federal crime, as well as bills that desegregated public schools. He challenged the Southern practice of charging Blacks a poll tax to vote, and stopped racist congressmen from saying the word “nigger” in sessions of Congress.]