Are we all racists now? Ever since Barack Obama made his appearance in national politics, some of the good souls who have supported him have drawn red lines to remind any possible critics where their opposition veers into racism. Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, The New Yorker, E. J. Dionne, Michael Tomasky, Lawrence O’Donnell, Nancy Pelosi—to mention only a few—have all leveled the race charge, aiming, it among others, at Mitt Romney, Clint Eastwood, Donald Trump, the Tea Party, and anyone who refers to Obama as a “Chicago politician.” Yet many of the supporters now seem to be joining ranks with the purveyors of hate. Take a look at this week’s New Yorker cover featuring Mitt Romney looking over at an empty chair during the first debate. Doesn’t this sketch express the same disdain for the President shown by Clint Eastwood, the same reference to Ralph Ellison’s “invisible man”? And what about Bill Maher’s quip that Obama was “stoned on weed” in the debate? This comment might just invoke the crude image of a drug user. Or what about Chris Matthews asking “Where was Obama.” Was he playing off a stereotype of a welfare king?
I am beginning to wonder who will guard the guardians.