Real Racists Do Real Things


Newt Gingrich puts Juan Williams up on that Summer Jam screen, and church of white populism says Amen:


Next to the election of a black president, we'd say that Gingrich's standing O was the most compelling dramatization of racial progress so far this century. Which isn't to say that racism has been completely eradicated. It lives on in the minds of liberals who see Bull Connor when they look at Ozzie Nelson.

Again if you really want to believe that racism "lives on in the minds of liberals" and that Gingrich's address to Williams stands just below the election of the country's first black president, I'm sure you can marshal some sort of evidence for support. If your chief goal, as a thinking person, is to find a path to making yourself right, you may never amount to much of a thinking person, but you can never be disappointed. It must be admitted that Juan Williams is, himself, no stranger to such pursuits, and that the unerringly righteous are, ultimately, deserving of each other.

As for the moment itself, and why it resonates, I think (again) this Jane Austen is appropriate:

The power of disappointing them, it was true, must always be hers. But that was not enough: for when people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of anything better from them.

People who are regularly complicit in wrong, are not in the habit of admitting such things. The unwillingness to admit wrong, the greedy claim upon the powers of disappointment,  the deep sense of injury is not coincidental--it is a necessary fact of wrong-doing. The charge that the NAACP are the actual racist is the descendant of the notion that abolitionists wanted to reduce Southern whites to "slavery,"  that the goal of civil rights was the rape of white women.That Barack Obama would have a "deep-seated hatred of white people" is not a new concept. 

Racism is, at its root, a lie.The habit of lying does not end with the racism itself. It is a contagion that extends to the defense of the initial lie.  The expectation of intellectual honesty, from a candidate who employs dishonesty, and from a slice of the electorate that stakes their political lives on that dishonesty is rather bizarre. 

When a professor of history calls Barack Obama a "Food Stamp President," it isn't a mistake to be remedied through clarification; it is a statement of aggresion. And when a crowd of his admirers cheer him on, they are neither deluded, nor in need of forgiveness, nor absolution, nor acting against their interest. Racism is their interest. They are not your misguided friends. They are your fully intelligent adversaries, sporting the broad range of virtue and vice we see in humankind. If you are a praying person, you should pray for their electoral destruction in November. Surely they are praying for yours:

Let his days be few; and let another take his office 
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 
May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. 
May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. 
May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.

Newt Gingrich coined "The Moment" on Martin Luther King's birthday.  Real racists do real things.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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