Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Random Accusations of Racism, Spurious Accusations of Socialism

Yesterday, Mitt Romney managed to annoy the Palestinians.  Previously, he got in trouble for giving criticisms of the Olympic games that were so mild and understated that you could call it…well…British.  Now he claimed that Palestinian culture is inferior to Israel’s.  Which is sort of true, since Israel is a free country and Palestine only pretends to be.  The mistake he made was in comparing Israel’s superior economy with Palestine’s and ignoring the fact that Palestinians have a bazillion sanctions that ever so slightly impede economic growth.

Then he made another mistake by claiming later that he wasn’t insulting Palestinian culture.  Right.  You just got done saying that Palestinians were poorer because of their culture.  But you’re not insulting their culture.  Just make up your mind.  Either criticize someone, or don’t.  Stop criticizing and then backing down.  It doesn’t help your image as a flip-flopper.

The only thing dumber than that little backpedal was the Palestinian response.  Mitt Romney was accused of (wait for it) racism.  Something that happens with alarming frequency to him and other Republicans.  It’s the epithet du jour for the left.  Not too long ago, Mitt did a thing with Rudy Giuliani in New York and some loud chick in the crowd kept screaming “Mitt Romney, you’re a racist”. 

Now, I realize that the left has a number of reasons not to like him.  He’s big business, big money, rich white patrician.  The left only likes that when it’s a Kennedy.  But I can’t think of any truly racist remarks he’s ever made.  The closest anyone ever came to painting him as a racist was Chris Rock.  There was a time I the past where the Mormons treated black people as second class citizens.  But this is something that’s changed.  Sorry, you don’t get to blame people for mistakes they used to make that they’ve corrected now.

The spray of accusations of racism is alarmingly common now.  Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona puts her finger in the president’s face and she’s a racist.  The Stand Your Ground law is racist.  The Tea Party is racist.  And electing a black president has apparently made the country more racist.

Sigh.  Perhaps Jan Brewer was just angry?  The president did criticize her fairly harshly a few days before.  I live in Florida, so I’ve read the Stand Your Ground law.  It says, in a nut shell, if some douche takes a swing or a shot at you, you can swing or shoot back.  Nothing racist there.  I’ll probably write more on that later.  The Tea Party is 80 percent white non-Hispanic and the Republican Party is 90 percent white non-Hispanic, according to Gallup polls.  So how can the Tea Party be considered a racist offshoot of the Republican party?  Did the racists split off and take all of the blacks and Hispanics with them?  And the country isn’t more racist after the election of a black president.  What happened there is that those people who are still racists got louder and angrier than they used to be.

The right is equally guilty of similar nonsense.  How many right-wingers have been spewing accusations of socialism these days?  The first problem Republicans have with socialism is that they don’t know what it means.  Here’s a quick rundown.  Capitalism is free markets.  Communism is state ownership and control of everything.  Socialism is somewhere between those two.  By that definition, virtually every major economy in the world is socialist, because every major country has at least a few safety nets and social programs.  Social Security is socialist.  So is Medicare.  So is the military Tri-Care system.  Many Republicans are fond of these programs.

America is a socialist nation by this definition, but it’s just barely socialist.  We’re on the side of socialism that’s very close to capitalism.  Some other countries (frequently European and Asian countries) lean the other way.  And that’s what Republicans are implying when they say “socialist”.  They’re using it synonymously with communism.  But the American left is no where near communism. 

For example, President Obama is apparently a huge socialist (or communist or whatever), despite the fact that he’s chummy with GE CEO Jeff Immelt and has had all sorts of complementary things to say about Jamie Dimon, the boss of JP Morgan.  Although not so much since that credit default swap snafu.  A communist doesn’t like corporations, because they are an example of private citizens who own their own property.  A communist’s wet dream would be a giant centralized bank that doles out money as it pleases.  Sure, the Fed is kind of like that, but in a truly communist economy, there would be no private banks, only the central bank.  A real communist would have nothing to do with a banker like Jamie Dimon.

So, enough already.  This is grade school name-calling.  From now on, every time I hear an accusation of racism or socialism (or communism or whatever) I will assume it’s a bunch of crap.  The words no longer have real meaning because they’ve been abused.  Too bad.  There are actual racists and communists out there.  The former are dangerous, and the latter cling to an obsolete economic system (and may also be dangerous) but I won’t know who they are because there are so many faux racists and communists thanks to all of the false accusations.

Fifty or so years ago, Joe McCarthy caused a bit of a stir by creating a Red Scare and implying that communists were taking over.  Certainly, they were making inroads, but most of the people who were communists in the sixties were too high to be a real threat.  Maybe now there are some Republicans pushing for it again.  Only this time, the left is creating a scare of their own, trying to imply that the country is being overrun by racists.  You can relax, fellas.  The country can’t be overrun by racism or communism, because it’s too busy being overrun by childishness and stupidity.

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