So today on the show, John and I spent some time talking about these comments. We both found them fairly non-controversial, but correctly predicted that the sydicated hosts on KLIN wouldn’t see it the same way. It also appears that several of our listeners thought we were off-base for our quasi-defense of the comments. One of the emails said “only a racist would be surprised he ‘forgot he was black’”. She went on to say, “How ridiculous to point out what he forgot. Give me a BREAK!! He WANTED the emphasis to be on his race by even saying this.”
I think this is a fairly interesting discussion and it also leads into one of my hot-button topics, the ridiculously hopeless state of political dialogue in this country, so I responded as follows:
Sorry, but I completely disagree with you. If you had told me 20 or even 10 years ago that we’d have a black president, I’d have assumed that, at that time, given our race culture, his race would always be front of mind for me, just because it’s something that was beyond my imagination, given the still existing racial divides in this country, particularly in urban areas (I lived in D.C. for a time). Maybe I’ve completely misread our society, but I don’t think that statement is far-fetched at all, and probably was the norm. Perhaps there were people out there 20 years ago or 10 years ago that were so unbelievably color blind and beyond the absolute cultural impact of a black president, that they assumed if and when a black president would be elected, any notation or significance given to his race would just roll off their back like it’s no big deal. Maybe I’m the only one like this and I’m also a racist, which I guess your comments would imply. I agree with Matthews that now, in 2009-2010, I don’t think about it anywhere close to as much as I thought I would. Does that mean I was a bad person in the past for assuming I’d be more aware of race? I don’t think so, but I guess I’m not above reproach.
All that said, he was saying that this way of thinking ISN’T the case anymore, so he was actually making a POSTIVE statement, not criticizing anyone, but instead lauding our collective culture for reaching a point where race is not as important as we thought it might always be in this country, which I think is one thing on which we can almost all agree is a good thing. Does that imply that we were too racially sensitive during a previous time? Maybe. I don’t think he or I think it’s great that we assumed race would be a more front-of-mind issue, but the point is he was saying that we’re not that way anymore. Kudos, I guess, to those who were “post-racial” before Chris Matthews and I were.
This is one of the rare times when anything said by any of the ‘talking heads’ on either side of the aisle isn’t done so for the sole purpose of painting their political opponents as evil, corrupt, un-American or mentally ill, so that alone is sadly comforting to me. The thing that drives me crazy is if this had been said by a conservative pundit, the majority of conservatives would come viciously to his defense and the libs would rip him all day long for being a racist, and probably demand his resignation. Content doesn’t matter anymore, it’s all about on which side the person who says it sits. Between you and me, I can hardly even stand to discuss politics anymore I’m so discouraged by the state of division in this country. I could go on about that forever, but in both of our best interests, I’ll refrain.
As always, thanks for listening, and I’ve enjoyed my email conversations with you in the past, and hope I didn’t come across too harsh. I’m pretty passionate about the state of politics.
What do you all think? Like I said, I’m one person who’s loves talking politics, philosophy, etc., but I’m also unabashed about the fact that I don’t have all the answers, so I like the discussion.