Via Joan Walsh, Salon:
I’m glad Jonathan Chait told us that his poorly argued, slightly paranoid New York magazine cover story, “Why Race Has Been the Real Story of Obama’s Presidency All Along,” was written before his epic wrangle with Ta-Nehisi Coates over Paul Ryan and the “culture” of black poverty. Because otherwise, it could only be read as the self-pitying rant of someone who has lost an historically defining argument – someone who has been “sonned,” to use Coates’ term — and is still too hurt to have access to his powers of reason. […]
If Chait can imagine white political figures like Chuck Schumer or Sherrod Brown being asked why they want to change American policies when they’ve been afforded “so much opportunity,” I’ll concede his point. He does make the fine point – I’ve made it myself – that President Clinton also faced intractable and ugly political opposition from the right. But he misses the fact that animosity towards Clinton originated with his segregationist enemies in Arkansas. Race has been behind GOP opposition to white politicians, not just black ones, who favor civil rights. Clinton is an example that actually weakens Chait’s case.
I also wonder whether equating liberals’ complaints about conservative racism with actual conservative racism is a weird form of self-protection for liberal elites. You’ve heard of climate denialism and science denialism on the right? Some liberals seem to suffer from Republican-extremism denialism. They can’t take in the extent of the GOP’s reliance on racial politics. And if they blame other liberals for their sins, for making things worse, it gives them a sense of control over their lives. If only MSNBC would stop crying racism, then…