Friday, October 31, 2008

When Silencing Dissent is "Progressive"

Those who see a racist in every non-Obama voter are themselves the people for whom Obama’s race is his defining characteristic. They say in terms that his race is the reason we must vote for him. They are the people who, by smearing every conceivable criticism of Obama or revelation of his unsavoury associations as ‘racist’, have emptied the term of its meaning. They are the people who, posing as ‘progressive’, display daily their utter contempt for their fellow human beings who are apparently incapable of voting against Obama on the rational grounds of the disturbing information they have learned about him, because by definition such information is just a load of racist smears. It cannot be true because there cannot be any dissent...The Politics of Mass Hysteria, Melanie Phillips, UK Spectator, 10/31/2008

You can hardly miss this if you've paid attention to news sources other than CNN. Yesterday it took the form of lifting press credentials for three American news organizations, barring them from Obama's last weekend campaign trip. They dared to editorialize that Senator McCain would be a better choice for President.

The writer remembers a similar hysteria when David Dinkins ran for Mayor of New York. If you were opposed to him because, for instance, just before his candidacy he was doing a work/release program for tax evasion, then you described as a racist. If you pointed out that, as a Democrat, Dinkins was likely to continue the preposterously corrupt practices that had bankrupted the city, the retort would be "it's because he's black that you're saying that." If you pointed out that Dinkins' political perception of the "quiet riot" of black crime would not reduce the city's then-astronomical murder rate, the worst of any large city in the world at the time -- well, you know. The level of corruption escalated because the new Mayor's friends and associates were the same bandits who had populated the Koch mayoralty. The level of murder increased because of a continuing disregard for the connection between small and large crimes (the broken window thesis so brilliantly pursued by Dinkins' successors, which has brought New York's crime rate so low that it's now one of the safest cities in the United States). None of that mattered, though. What did was that a cultivated, intelligent black man, a former Marine, but a man who also bad political alliances and worse political ideas, was assumed to be a better choice than someone with different convictions, simply because he had darker skin.


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