Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Vice President Joe Biden set Republican tongues wagging on Tuesday for injecting the following not-so-subtle dog-whistle about race into a speech he delivered that day before a predominantly Black crowd in Southern Virginia:
Romney wants to let the, he said the first 100 days he’s gon’ let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchaaain Wall Street … they gon’ put y’all back in chains.
(C-SPAN, August 14, 2012)
But I feel obliged to begin by noting that Republicans decrying racism in this context is rather like prostitutes decrying promiscuity.
After all, no less a person than presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has spent the past year dog-whistling about President Obama’s American identity – suggesting that this first Black president of the United States does not have American values. In fact, Romney has even “palled around” with the nutjobs who are brazenly demonizing Obama as an African fraud – most notably flying to New York City a few months ago to kiss the brass ring of birther king Donald Trump.
Then, of course, there are the race-baiting Republicans who have impugned everything from Obama’s Christian faith to his intellect. (The simple fact is, notwithstanding that the first 43 presidents of the United States were all White, some White folks have become unhinged because this 44th president is Black.)
This is why I have no regard at all for the feigned outrage Republicans are venting over Biden’s remarks.
That said, I find what he said insulting. And, unlike far too many Blacks, I do not believe it’s enough to react to racist remarks by White Democrats by pointing to racist remarks by White Republicans.
Here, for example, is what I wrote when Hillary Clinton engaged in an eerily similar form of dog-whistling about race when she declared that Republicans were treating Democrats in Congress like slaves:
This … demonstrates the insidious entitlement White liberals have been granted – by politically compromised Black leaders – to make all kinds of racial jibes with impunity; so long as they play their race card, ostensibly, in the interest of the Democratic Party.
And, in this case, it only added insult to the racial offense that Hillary made these remarks in the front of an ‘Amen’ crowd at a Black church in Harlem – where she ‘came back home’ like a proverbial prodigal daughter.
(“Hillary: Republicans Treating Democrats like Slaves,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 23, 2006)
Just as it was with Hillary’s, what added insult to Biden’s remarks was the way he exaggerated his intonations and broken English to, gasp, sound more Black (i.e., ignorant). Yet in each case, instead of jeering, Blacks cheered.
Not to mention their enabling cheers when the late Senator Ted Kennedy called a Black female judge a Neanderthal (i.e., a friggin’ ape) just because, like Clarence Thomas, she was appointed by a Republican president.
Financially at least, it’s going to be a long, hot summer. Now I don’t have to tell you who gets hurt first when this sort of thing happens, do I? You people do, your people do. I know that, you know that.
(Los Angeles Times, July 12, 1992)
The point is that I do not recall a single Black politician defending Perot against plainly specious accusations of racism for making these remarks, the way no less a Black politician than President Obama went out of his way yesterday to defend Biden.
Accordingly, I defy any intelligent and fair-minded Black American to explain why Biden saying that Romney wants to put “y’all back in chains” is any more racially acceptable than Perot saying that the ones who are going to get hurt most by a financial downturn is “you people”. Especially because what Perot said was as true then as it is now; whereas, what Biden said is as farfetched as it is insulting.