Yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz said of the Democrats, “It’s one of the crutches – when they don’t have any other arguments, they just go and accuse everyone of being a racist, and it’s an ugly, ugly part of the modern Democratic Party.” He went on to say that the Dems are the party of the KKK, which is sure to lead to a long round of fact-checking and more than a few snide remarks about which candidate the actual KKK endorsed. For now, though, let’s look closely at this claim: “when they don’t have any other arguments, they just go and accuse everyone of being a racist.”
First, when Democrats pointed out that Sessions supported racist policies in the past, they weren’t out of arguments; they were making one. When a United States Senator greets that argument with an “ugh, the libs and racism again,” he signals that racism isn’t really something to worry about, that it’s not disqualifying. OK. Maybe it isn’t. But if we’re talking about the person interviewing to be the head of the Justice Department, it probably should be.
Second, can we please oh please oh please stop treating the charge of racism as a gross violation of all ethical norms while ignoring actual racism? A gross violation of ethical norms is overturning austerity measures just to be able to hire enough lawyers to fight against a court ruling that said that rich white children probably shouldn’t have twice as much money invested in their education as poor black students have invested in theirs. You know, like Sessions did. To say that that legal fight was racist in impact if not intent is not worse than the actual impact of that legal fight. Unless, of course, hurting a career politician’s feelings is worse than failing to provide essential educational services to all children, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.
Third, about that “ugly, ugly part of the modern Democratic Party”: it’s an ugly, ugly part of the modern Republican Party that racism is dismissed as a concern of the oversensitive, politically correct snowflakes on the left. Racism is bad. Not “I agree that racism is bad, but…” No. Just listen. Racism is bad. No buts. It affects everything, from pre-school suspension rates to odds of being stopped and searched by police to odds of being interviewed and getting a job to how long and healthy one’s life is. Making opposition to such injustice a partisan issue by rolling our eyes may score points in the short run, but it carves out a permanent place on the wrong side of history.
Look, I get it. I’ve been there. It’s upsetting to be called a racist. But just remember, there are worse things than being called racist. Like actual racism.