We really live in a golden age for race-baiting. Back in the day, there was a spectrum of racism of sorts. You knew something racist fell somewhere between Al Jolson in blackface, zip-a-de-doo-dah racism and the move your wallet to your front pocket because you see a black guy walking down the street racism. It was a simpler time.
In the last two years, however, Republicans have been so angry they’ve had to invent new ways to be racist. No longer can we judge racist sentiment simply by its degree of offensiveness. Now there are multiple varieties of racism which have become almost like an ingredient the cupboard of conservative hate speech that’s used to flavor every utterance the way a great Italian chef might finish off a dish with a drizzle of their finest extra virgin olive oil.
You’ve got the birther crowd with their “Faked the moon landing” racism. The Fox News saying Michelle is Barack’s “Baby Mamma” which is more of an “Oh my god, you’ve never really met a black person before have you?” racism. The “Fiscal conservative” / Tea Party “Complain about high taxes while comparing the President to a monkey” racism. The Matt Drudge “Ominously link to a story that incidentally involves people of different races as if to imply there’s racial backlash against caucasians” racism. And the religious extremist “Don’t blame me if the Bible says Obama is the anti-Christ” racism.
Then there’s Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who are like the Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla of racist bullshit. These guys aren’t just content to be the “Telling a racist joke, but it’s cool because everyone knows I’m not racist” guys. Oh no. They’re innovators. They went out there, saw that America elected a black guy, and said “The old ways being a racist asshole aren’t good enough”. In the process they’ve erected multimedia empires, doing for the “Aggrieved white guy cries reverse-discrimination” racism what Henry Ford did for auto manufacturing (or, not to change the subject, anti-semitism).
Now if the right wing’s artisans of racial hatred could only devote this uniquely American spirit of ingenuity into endeavors that don’t…well…threaten to destroy the social and political fabric of our nation, then we might get somewhere.