Friday, January 21, 2011

If Sarah Palin were black...

(Via The Loathsome Joy)
If Sarah Palin were black, her daughter's out of wedlock, "baby daddy drama" would have been presented as an example of both pathological behavior and a dysfunctional family that is symbolic of the social problems in that community. If Sarah Palin were black, never would the poor decision making by the Palin family be marked off as challenges overcome, or deeds to be valorized. If Sarah Palin were black, her neo-secessionist husband would have been the death knell for her political career, because as we all know you can’t trust "those people." If Sarah Palin were black, her lack of intellectual curiosity, willful and cultivated ignorance, and lack of grace both written and spoken, would not be taken as "folksy." Instead, Palin would be viewed as unqualified for any public office. If Sarah Palin were black she would be tarred and feathered as an "affirmative action baby."
This is one of those things where my knee-jerk reaction is to say "Damn right!" But on further reflection, I'm not sure it's right at all.

I think the person who wrote it is missing a key principle of American politics today: IOKIYAR. It's OK If You're A Republican. Any ethical/moral/personal lapse that Republicans criticize in Democrats is OK if a Republican does it.

So yes, if Sarah Palin were a black Democrat, she would face all those criticisms. But she would also face most of them if she were a white Democrat.

But if she were a black Republican? I'm not so sure. Who would be criticizing her differently? Democrats? Democrats already think she's most of those things, and say so. Republicans? I'm skeptical that Republicans would say those things about a Republican. IOKIYAR. And if the media treated hypothetical black Sarah that way, you can bet that Republicans would be the first to holler "Racism!"

So maybe this is actually an encouraging sign. Yes, it says something very negative about the level of our political discourse that someone as mean, greedy, self-centered, defensive, intentionally divisive, and frighteningly uninformed as Sarah Palin can be taken seriously in our politics. On the other hand, if race would actually make little difference, well, doesn't that say something positive about this country?

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