A few days ago, MSNBC commentator Martin Bashir, in high dudgeon, accused critics of the IRS scandal of racism toward Barack Obama. I’m not going to rehearse the number of black conservatives — including intellects of the stature of Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele — who would then be racists, or even go into my own personal story as a white civil rights worker in the South in the sixties (I’m older than Bashir) and how insulting it would be to people like me to be lumped in as racists because we object to the president’s policies.
Never mind the massive declines in racism in our (and other Anglo-Saxon) societies documented in a recent Pew Poll and never mind the late Andrew Breitbart’s offer of one hundred thousand dollars for evidence of the use of the n-word by even one of tens of thousands of Tea Party demonstrators for which not a single bid came forward.
What interests me is why people like Bashir maintain this need to brand anyone even vaguely to the right as racist. It’s almost a disorder worthy of classification in the DSM-5 — PRDS: Projective Racist Derangement Syndrome.
Actually, I don’t think it’s quite that sick, although it does have definite pathological aspects. A more obvious motivation is old-fashioned fear. The liberal canon is under heavy intellectual and practical assault at this moment. Keynesian economics hang by a thread as monumental deficits threaten the global financial system. Unemployment numbers coupled with entitlements escalating into the stratosphere spell disaster for all. The welfare state is on the brink of bankruptcy — or over it in many instances.
For the rational person, something must been done about this. But to do so would mean the dismantling of the liberal orthodoxy. For people like Bashir that would also mean undoing or questioning everything (or a great deal of) what they had believed since high school or college or even earlier. Not fun. I know — I had to do it myself. Like it or not, you pay. (If you’re an employee of MSNBC, you lose your job.) Most liberals I know don’t even dare to examine this.
Much better to blame the other and accuse him or her of racism, taking the ideas off the table and dehumanizing your opponent.