Roger L. Simon

The Zernike Kerfuffle: Clinging to Racism

What is about a certain kind of liberal that they seem to really really want right wingers to be racists? That’s what I asked myself when reading about the NYT’s Kate Zernike’s comments about Jason Mattera the other day at CPAC. Now I must be clear that I don’t know Jason Matera and have no personal knowledge of his racial views. Nevertheless, I strongly doubt he is one and have found no evidence of same (pace the “Chris Rock accent”). And, although there are a small number of racists of the right and left in our culture (just as there are a small number of just about anything), I don’t think racism is a big problem in America now. It has, as Guy Benson neatly put it, become the new “scarlet letter.”

So what’s the deal with this clinging to racism – or racial accusations – on the part of some liberals? Well, I think it reflects a significant and growing insecurity that they are no longer the cool guys. Via the Tea Party movement and other things, libertarianism – a rather attractive and even hip ideology – is taking over the right. People who love freedom are drifting rightward leaving the left with moribund unions and big government, neither of which seem to work. Liberals don’t have much of a belief system anymore and not enough reason to think highly of themselves, as they used to. Something’s wrong. Therefore, the other side has to be bad. They have to be racists. They have to be homophobes… Wait, maybe even that’s not working.