As a black man active in Republican politics, I find it noteworthy that I never feel excluded or stigmatized by other Republicans on account of my race. Race never comes up at a Tea Party meeting, or a Republican political convention, or when socializing with my conservative and libertarian cohort. On the contrary, all my encounters with race-obsessed individuals have been with self-professed liberals who treat me like a freak show exhibit.
Leftists demand an explanation for my politics. How is it possible that a black man could be a Tea Partier? How is it possible that a black man could vote Republican? What’s wrong? What’s the angle? What secret deficiency or corruption explains this oddity? The curiosity is racist in and of itself, because it proceeds from an assumption about how people “like me” ought to think.
Then I see the vile treatment of personages like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In the wake of the court’s recent verdict upholding Michigan voters’ choice to ban state-mandated racial discrimination (euphemistically called affirmative action), Thomas became the target of viciously racist comments from supporters of “progressive” policy.
Most recently, we learn that long-time Democrat Party contributor and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling faces compelling accusations of racism. Prior to TMZ reporting on obtained audio which seems to record Sterling making blatantly racist remarks to his girlfriend, the NBA owner was slated to received a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP in May. Presumably, he would have accepted it eagerly.
How do we reconcile this? Why would a racist who doesn’t want his girlfriend publicly associating with black men support a political party which claims to represent the best interests of black people? How can a racist be seen by the NAACP to merit recognition for a lifetime of philanthropic achievement?
Psychological projection is “a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people.” When I encounter people convinced that blacks labor under the weight of insurmountable racism, I suspect they harbor bigotry of their own. They may not express it quite like Donald Sterling, but their worldview brims with the soft bigotry of low expectations.