It took me a while to figure out what McCain’s people were talking about when they accused Obama of “playing the race card.” “I don’t look like those guys on the dollar bills”? Well, no, he doesn’t. He’s a lot younger and skinnier, and his ears stick out. The only person on our currency who bears even the slightest resemblance to Obama is on the five-dollar bill, and even that’s a stretch. So what makes the McCainiacs think Obama was talking about race? Paranoia? Or maybe even guilt?
Yes, there is a race card, and it can be played very obnoxiously. Al Sharpton probably does it more notably than anybody else these days, now that Jesse Jackson Sr. is out of the limelight. But the merit of a cause is not diminished by the obnoxiousness of some of its partisans.
This is tricky to explain, but it is happening so much these days that somebody has to show it up for what it is. I haven’t re-read Screwtape Letters in a while, but if I were writing a diabolical advice column, I know what I’d say:
“Dear Nephew: Apparently the partisans of The Enemy have become aware of our delight in stigmatizing, cheating, and oppressing the Scythian [or whatever] race. They are actually denouncing our behavior in the strongest terms possible. I know you are inexperienced in dealing with such attacks, but let me assure you that it is a lot easier than you think. All you have to do is denounce the denouncers. Be aggrieved. Complain bitterly about the unfairness of it all. Develop some cute but unpleasant name for their behavior. “Whining” is good. “Bedwetting” is even better, though it makes no logical sense at all. You might even try a pre-emptive attack, denouncing the other side before they mention your original misbehavior. If you do it often enough, you can not only eradicate the public’s disapproval, but turn your victims into the bad guys and yourself into the victim.
“Another closely related and equally useful tactic can be used to discredit anyone who knows something that reflects badly on you. Simply do something vicious to that adverse witness. The nastier, the better, for your purposes. Because then, when the adverse witness denounces you for the original misdeed, you can once again play the victim, and claim that the witness is only attacking you to get revenge for the second misbehavior. The most useful instance for this, of course, is where the witness is a member of the gender which would ordinarily attract your romantic attentions. Date him/her for a while,and then dump him/her in the nastiest way possible. This will turn him/her into a wo/man scorned, and everybody knows how they can lie!
“Above all, whenever possible, accuse your accusers of repetition, redundancy, and pleonasm. “There you go again,” will serve to defuse almost any denunciation, however accurate and justified. The one thing the public tolerates less gracefully than jeremiads is monotony and boredom.”
So if Obama really was playing the “race card,” (and doing it in the most casual, low-key, charming way possible BTW,) why should it matter? Do the McCainiacs really expect us to believe that all trace of racial discrimination has been eliminated in our culture? Gimme a break. They just want us to get tired of hearing about it. Don’t give them the satisfaction.