Race matters, but only as part of the equation. Studies show that people are more inclined to vote along socio-economic lines rather than in accordance with their faith or skin tone. A persons race is one of many factors used when deciding to agree or disagree with someones policy, genre, music, or point of view.
I thought about this over the weekend when listening to both friends and foes discuss how racism fuels the fight against everything Obama is trying to accomplish. When watching Jimmy Carter (big fan) talk about racism in the south, I agreed with him to a point.
Racism is still everywhere.
But its not as important as it used to be.
No matter what Rush Limbaugh says, reasoned arguments should be addressed and ridiculous arguments ignored. When we respond as if they are equally important, the ensuing discussion belittles us all.
Carter should know this better than anyone because his comments about Israel are called anti-Semitic by too many in an attempt to deflect what is, at heart, justified criticism.
Is this what weve become? Too afraid or uninterested in lively debate so we cry racism, anti-Semitism, or some other form of hate-ism, take our ball, and go home?
There are more examples of this trend.
Those against Sotomayor were anti-Latino, those who disliked Hillary were misogynistic, and people who hate pretty white Christian boys are unfairly targeting the Jonas brothers.
Except for Jonas haters. Those people are dead on.
When Bill Clinton was in office, Republicans focused on his personal life. The values debate was really just an illogical hatred for Democrats and the desire by the right to win at any cost. Neocons didnt actually believe in what they were selling, too many of them were divorced men preying on secretaries and interns themselves, but they used whatever worked to get the masses-are-asses in line.
No different now.
Some fools will respond to cries of socialism, communism or Hitler. Their reactions justify the tools the right will continue to use as long as such tools work. Others will vote to the right when they see campaign literature calling Obama a thug. Wingnuts dont actually believe this nonsense, but they will say whatever they have to say in order to keep the insurance companies happy and contributing to their reelection campaigns.
My concern is that the tactics of the debate will overshadow the real issues at play. If were talking about Wilson being a typical racist from South Carolina, we arent talking about the need for healthcare reform. We arent talking about the millions of people who are going bankrupt due to outrageous medical bills. We arent talking about the need for real answers that will help people get out of poverty and live healthier lives.
Right, I know.
Kanye West wouldnt have upstaged a sister. Joe Wilson wouldnt have heckled a good ole white boy.
Keep in mind, though, that Joe Wilson wouldnt have heckled a black president who supported rightwing policies.
That makes race second to other, more important issues.
Issues we should focus on as well.