This article was first published by American Thinker.
A few days prior to delivering a speech during the opening night of the recent Republican National Convention, guest-speaker and former football star Herschel Walker ripped Democrats in a tweet for “playing the race card way too much,” at their own convention the week prior. While Walker clearly has a legitimate point, it was actually a huge understatement. In 2020, every card in the Democrats’ deck is the race card. There are no clubs or diamonds. There are no one-eyed Jacks or suicide Kings; and please feel free to insert your own witty comment here about Jokers. Democrats will “play the race card” at any time, with any topic, and without any evidence. The only question remaining about Democrats and their approach to race relations is — how can anyone even take them seriously anymore?
Several weeks into OJ Simpson’s murder trial in 1995, attorney Johnny Cochran decided to employ race as part of the defense team’s strategy by portraying Simpson as the victim of racist detectives investigating the case for the LAPD. The trial had captivated millions of Americans, with proceedings that were televised daily and drew huge ratings. During analysis by various pundits, viewers were exposed to the widespread, frequent use of the term “playing the race card” for the first time. Cochrane’s decision was highly controversial, however. The attitude for many Americans at the time was this: if Simpson is innocent, let the facts of the case exonerate him. Why would you need to play the race card? Injecting Simpson’s race into the trial was a copout, a cheap shot. During the 2008 Democrat Presidential primaries, former President Bill Clinton pointed to the Obama campaign, claiming “they played the race card on me.” Clinton had drawn a comparison to Obama’s victory in the South Carolina primaries to that of Jesse Jackson several years earlier. Referring to Clinton’s comment, Obama suggested to reporters, “you’d better ask him what he meant by that.” Clinton obviously felt Obama was suggesting a racist component to his comments, and he clearly felt the suggestion was a low blow. Obama essentially let the issue drop, as did Clinton, since using race as a hammer against an opponent was still unbecoming in 2008. But not anymore.
In 2020, there is no such apprehension, or even hesitation, from Democrats when it comes to infusing race into any argument. There is no topic, no person, and no group that is off-limits. There also seems to be a direct correlation between the weakness of their argument on a particular issue and the vociferousness with which the race card is played in defending it. Voter ID laws, for instance, vary by state and apply equally along all racial lines; there is no evidence that such laws are racist. But that did not stop Joe Biden from stating, “It’s what these guys are all about, man. Republicans don’t want working-class people voting. They don’t want black folks voting.” No evidence, just the race card, and our leftwing/mainstream media did not even challenge him on his assertion.
The Left also has no qualms about accusing Mother Nature herself of being racist, since apparently she is not a woman of color. The Washington Post recently claimed, “Climate change is also a racial justice problem.” Forget about the fact that scientific climate models vary wildly, and many predictions have been dramatically inaccurate over the years. The Washington Post may not know the amount by which sea levels will rise over the next decade, but they know one thing for certain: whatever the amount, when the sea levels rise, it will be racist. Even the COVID-19 pandemic is racist according to some leftist academics, going so far as to say, “Racism, not race, is a risk factor for dying” of the virus.
Perhaps the most absurd playing of the race card happened recently in the form of a stunning accusation by the formerly credible Carl Bernstein. Appearing as a guest with CNN’s Brian Stelter, Bernstein attacked President Trump on his approach to postal service funding and universal mail-in balloting. Attacking President Trump for racism is expected at this point, and would normally result in a cacophony of yawns, but playing the race card for his postal policy? During his discussion with Stelter, Bernstein went on a diatribe in which he pointed to, “a racist president, with racist appeal, undermining our electoral system through racist discrimination.” For those keeping score, it is still unclear whether using the word “racist” three times in a single sentence is a record for CNN, but research is currently underway… stay tuned.
There are many reasons to be alarmed at the flippant use of the race card by Democrats. Gone are the days when political parties could have civil discussions on policy without personal attacks, and that fact does not bode well for the future of our political discourse. The identity politics being played are dividing the country, and the county is now more concerned about rising violence in American cities — driven largely by the Democrats’ divisive tactics — than they are about COVID-19. But perhaps the most disturbing consequence of Democrats overplaying the race card is the way in which it is diluting the meaning of the word.
Calling someone a racist in 1995 was one of the worst insults imaginable, and Johnny Cochran undoubtedly thought long and hard before pointing the finger at Detective Mark Fuhrman during the Simpson trial. Bill Clinton was clearly offended by Barack Obama’s insinuation in 2008, and he vehemently objected to the label, even though the charge was somewhat veiled. But today, Democrats throw around the term at will, slamming the race card down on the felt table without thinking twice.
The true problem is there really are racists among us — not many, but some — and they are actual racists, not the imaginary kind. To just dish out the term loosey-goosey as Democrats do will affect our ability to hold those individuals accountable. During the 2016 election, many of us added a word to our vocabulary when feminists and others escalated their attacks on then-candidate Trump by switching from using the term “sexist” to “misogynist,” and it was effective. To be a misogynist is indeed more reprehensible than being a sexist. But how does one escalate from “racist”? There is not a more severe word to apply, and herein lies the trouble. If the accusation of racism is just thrown out for any reason; if use of the term is so undisciplined that they will use it to describe the Trump Administration’s postal policy, then its effectiveness is being destroyed; watered down. If everyone and everything is racist, then no one and nothing is racist, and that is a very big problem.