“Look,” added Will, “liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s syndrome these days. It’s just constantly saying the word ‘racism’ and ‘racist.’ It’s an old saying in the law: If you have the law on your side, argue the law; if you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table.”
And here, let us remove Holder from the equation because, frankly, the question I’m here to ask is more pertinent to his boss than him. I just wish Mssrs. Will and Hume would explain one thing:
You say race has played no role in the treatment of President Obama? Fine. What would it look like if it did?
I mean, we’re talking about a president who was called “uppity” by one GOP lawmaker, “boy” by another and “subhuman” by a GOP activist; and who was depicted as a bone-through-the-nose witch doctor by opponents of his health-care reform bill, as a pair of cartoon spook eyes against a black backdrop by an aide to a GOP lawmaker, and as an ape by various opponents.
Obama has been dogged by a “tea party” movement whose earliest and most enthusiastic supporters included the Council of Conservative Citizens, infamous for declaring the children of interracial unions “a slimy brown glop;” was called a liar by an obscure GOP lawmaker during a speech before a joint session of Congress, and has had to contend with a years-long campaign of people pretending there is some mystery about where he was born.
There’s much more, but you get the drift. So I wish those men would explain how, exactly, the treatment of the president would differ if race were indeed part of the mix. What misbehavior would make them say: “OK, this is definitely about color of skin, not content of character?” Because from where I sit, much of the behavior toward Obama would need white hoods to be more blatantly racial than it already is.
Discussion of this seminal American fault line often reveals in some of us an unfortunate fondness for clownish superficiality. And yet that silliness does not detract from the criticality of the fault line itself. Nor can I share Will’s conviction that manly taciturnity is the best way to seal that fissure.
So what I ask is not rhetorical, not abstract, not a joke. It is a serious question.
And I’d appreciate the same sort of answer.