Pass the popcorn and David Hasselhoff popsicles! Fox News is gently fanning the flames of the smoldering Jon Stewart / Herman Cain “rivalry” by asking, in a FoxNews.com blog post written by Bernie Goldberg, “Is Jon Stewart racist?”
Some context: Monday night, GOP presidential hopeful Cain told Fox News’ Juan Williams that Stewart dislikes him because he is “an American black conservative,” adding that, “when he mocks me in the dialect of old Amos and Andy, I think that’s a problem.”
Last week, Cain had laughed off Stewart’s impression while speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, telling him that “as far as him mocking me, look I’ve been called every name in the book because I’m a conservative, because I’m black. Sticks and stones may break my bones, words are not going to hurt me.” and “the fact that he wants to mock me because I happen to be a black conservative, in the words of my Grandfather, ‘I does not care. I does not care.'”
Goldberg’s post doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to making its central point: A double-standard exists where political leanings and perceived instances of racism are concerned:
If the white guy is Rush Limbaugh and the black man is Barack Obama, then of course the white guy is a racist – according to liberals.
But if the white guy is Jon Stewart and the black man is Herman Cain, the conservative businessman seeking the Republican nomination for president, well, then, that’s another story.
This is, of course, not always the case.
But why isn’t Jon Stewart a bigot, when Limbaugh and Hannity and O’Reilly would be tagged as racists if they had done the very same thing? That’s easy. Because Jon Stewart is a liberal and liberals aren’t racists. Only conservatives are.
And if you don’t believe me, just ask any liberal.
Goldberg’s advice to conservatives who find themselves dealing with liberals who would take some sort of moral high ground when it comes to issues of race is to simply beat them at their own game, as it were, and “play fast and loose with the word ‘racist.'” He concludes by saying that, yes, Stewart’s impression was unequivocally racist.
It’s to Fox News’ benefit to keep this particular meme going because 1) it makes Stewart look bad, particularly since it essentially adds fuel to the animosity likely already harbored by many at Fox News and, 2) it makes Stewart look bad. But, in the long term, it serves only to reduce matters of race and ethnicity to trump cards held, at the ready, in the back pockets of pundits and politicians on either side of the aisle, to be pulled out whenever it suits either side. It’s an unsavory practice that ultimately works to alienate both liberals and conservatives who don’t happen to be white Anglos, rendering, say, a black conservative forever “a black conservative” rather than an individual who is conservative and also black, or black and also conservative.
Likewise, when Democrats or Republicans discuss garnering, say,”the black vote” or “the Latino vote,” it speaks to a fundamental lack of understanding, bolstering the impression that black and/or American Latinos vote as monolithic, homogeneous blocks without different social classes, religious beliefs, or cultural values coming into play. So let’s, perhaps, take a step back from using “racist!” as a strategic peon in some grotesque game played out on evening political news shows, particularly since this ultimately works to render a serious accusation essentially meaningless and causes the word to lose whatever power it may otherwise have had. How can we intelligently and productively discuss whether something like Jon “I’m a comedian” Stewart’s impression is racist or hateful if we have to deal with the possibility that such as allegation is simply being exploited for political points? How genuine can any offense at a given act or word be if there’s a concern or admission that such a reaction is used as a strategy in shaming or “beating” the other side?
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