February 24, 2005

Rise of the Mammies

Condi Rice was just the first black female Republican to be creamed in the press, the blogs and the political cartoons for being who she is. Rather than being attacked for what she says, what she's done or even what she thinks, a number of people are attacking her for how she looks.

I don't think that race needs to be ignored or even that it's a subject inappropriate for humor. Race should be about as important as national ancestry or hair color - only important as a joke or a superficial differentiation between people. I wouldn't say that blond jokes or German jokes are out of line (the Beck's commercials are hilarious), so I wouldn't say that a joke about race is automatically out of bounds. But when you try to force people to join one or another group and mock them when they hold their own opinions, that's clearly racist.

Until now, it's mostly been an Uncle Tom thing. In the modern usage, it's a black man who is a conservative or a Republican. It's been used notably against Colin Powell and JC Watts, but also against Alan Keyes and others. It's an absurdly racist thing to say, because it means that your race ought to dictate your beliefs and behaviors. Criticizing a black Republican for being a Republican is fine; criticizing a black Republican for being a black person in the GOP is racist. You'd think this was a fairly simple explanation, but for some people I've encountered it's far from simple.

This is just another symptom of the Democratic solution on race, which is to make sure everybody everywhere not only notices on race but actually fixates on it - and then expects it to somehow not be a problem subsequently. Rather than trying to avoid race as an issue of any real importance, Democrats try to play up race and then be positive about it. But once race is a tool capable of hurting their opponents, many Democrats, especially those feeling quite vulnerable and impotent, have no qualms about dredging up the worst of it.

Now that the GOP is starting to again include more and more middle-class black women, it's inevitable that they will proceed to positions of importance and visibility. Condi Rice is one, and Janice Rogers Brown (a judge from California, and a conservative) is another. Despite the major flap over political cartoons portraying Rice as a mammy and so forth (here: 1 2 3 4 5) I'm sure that the trend is far from over. Look for more racist name-calling from the left side of the street over the years as black women try to get somewhere in the GOP.

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