[Ed. – Writing a dog-whistle symphony in her spare time?]
I’m sure there are instances Chait can find where MSNBC hosts and guests (including me) went too far with racial rhetoric. But he certainly didn’t catch me doing so in his piece: He chastens me for suggesting that when Bill O’Reilly asked Obama “Why do you feel it’s necessary to fundamentally transform the nation that has afforded you so much opportunity?” the question was “deeply condescending and borderline racist.” Chait acknowledges my interpretation is “possible,” but insists “it’s at least as possible, and consistent with O’Reilly’s beliefs, that he merely believes the United States offers everybody opportunity.”
If Chait can imagine white political figures like Chuck Schumer or Sherrod Brown being asked why they want to change American policies when they’ve been afforded “so much opportunity,” I’ll concede his point. He does make the fine point – I’ve made it myself – that President Clinton also faced intractable and ugly political opposition from the right. But he misses the fact that animosity toward Clinton originated with his segregationist enemies in Arkansas. Race has been behind GOP opposition to white politicians, not just black ones, who favor civil rights. Clinton is an example that actually weakens Chait’s case.
I also wonder whether equating liberals’ complaints about conservative racism with actual conservative racism is a weird form of
self-protection for liberal elites. You’ve heard of climate denialism and science denialism on the right? Some liberals seem to suffer from Republican-extremism denialism. They can’t take in the extent of the GOP’s reliance on racial politics. And if they blame other liberals for their sins, for making things worse, it gives them a sense of control over their lives. If only MSNBC would stop crying racism, then …