Daryl Metcalfe and the Republican Definition of Racism

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Everybody’s rightly focused on Daryl Metcalfe’s tortured hair-splitting on the difference between white supremacists and white nationalists, but I wanted to make sure this quote didn’t get lost in the mix.

“Metcalfe continued, “For whoever said the man was white to begin with, that person was actually the racist — tying his skin color to his patriotism and what he stands up for for his country.”

Lots of Republican politicians and operatives who are taken more seriously than Metcalfe subscribe to the Republican definition of racism that Metcalfe is wanting to use here.

By their definition, the acknowledgment of race, and especially the acknowledgment that people of different races are treated differently in American society, is the problem.

The people who don’t talk directly about race are doing it right, even if they support pro-discrimination policies, and the people who call attention to disparate treatment are the real racists. Once you’ve done the logical gymnastics to convince yourself of this point, only then does the idea that accusing white people of racism is a bigger problem than actual discrimination start making sense.

Jamelle Bouie nailed it back in 2013 with this post on John Roberts:

The idea that Obama is a racist reads as baffling to most Americans, but it makes sense if you understand the particular racial beliefs of conservatives. If the liberal perspective on racism is that racial inequality is a genuine fact of contemporary American life—and requires race-specific remedies—then the conservative view can be expressed with a line from Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

In other words, only the “colorblind” are capable of stopping racism. What’s more, the inverse is also true: if you’re not colorblind, then you are incapable of stopping racism. Which leads to a final conclusion: anyone who treats race as a social reality is a racist. The corollary to this—seen here, for example—is that accusations of racism are more troubling than actual discrimination against minorities.

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

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