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HBO: Just because you have an excuse to be racist doesn’t mean we’ll tolerate your racism

July 18, 2009


It’s not hard to tell what leftist comedian Bill Maher has been doing with his three weeks off from “Real Time”: watching the Rachel Maddow Show. His opening monologue for last night’s new episode was ripped straight from Maddow’s show — calling Republicans racists for their questioning of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, obsessing over the Christian group C Street, and lamenting that he’d missed “three Republican scandals.”

The attack began in the monologue:

“It was fun watching these old white men get frustrated with the answers from this Puerto Rican woman. For them it was like the cleaning lady stole something from the club! She was watering the houseplants wrong!… And the tag they kept trying to hang around her neck was ‘reverse racist.’ They said that it’s reverse racists like her that give regular racists like them a bad name! We can’t have that!”

Bill continued his ideological assault when he interviewed his first guest via satellite, former Republican congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough who was promoting his new book The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America’s Promise.

(I’ve been thinking about reading Scarborough’s book and his interview with Maher only served as an additional nudge toward picking it up.)

“Do you think the Republicans in general have a problem with race?” Maher asked. “I mean I would never say that all Republicans are racist — that’s ridiculous  and wrong — but if you’re a racist in America today you’re probably a Republican. Is that a fair comment?”

“No, probably not a fair comment,” Scarborough replied, not taking Maher’s bait and trying to redirect the interview in a more constructive direction:

“At the same time this is a party that did fairly well with Hispanics in 2004, they did poorly in 2008, then you think some of them [Republican critics of Sotomayor] would have tread a bit more lightly given the poor performance at the polls… Why major Republicans were going around calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist is beyond me. That is not how you’re going to win the middle of America in 2012 and it’s certainly not how you’re going to pick up Hispanic votes for the Republican Party.”

It was a good response for Scarborough given his political objectives — drawing more moderates into the GOP and refashioning a more “Big Tent” Conservatism. It fit with the tone of his other answers — staying positive. Later in the interview when Maher listed alleged Republican failures (being on the “wrong side of history” on Social Security and the Civil Rights Movement) Scarborough again avoided Maher’s trap by pointing out that the GOP was on the right side of the debate on the Cold War and Welfare reform.

There was another way Scarborough could have responded to Maher’s “if you’re a racist you’re probably a Republican smear.” It wouldn’t have helped him sell more books but it would have been hilarious, cool, and true: “Well actually Bill, there are plenty of racists who aren’t Republicans and you should know because you have them on your show all the time.”


I know the canned response to pointing out West, McGruder, and Jackson as racists: it’s OK to be an anti-white racist if you’re a minority because of the historic oppressions minorities have endured.

You can take that one out and fertilize the lawn with it.

I shouldn’t have to explain this to people. Do I really have to? Are we in kindergarten again? Racism — defined as prejudice against a whole race of people — is wrong and unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if one has an excuse for it. And racist minorities have a better excuse than white racists — they’ve probably actually been victims of racism. (And their ancestors certainly were.) But it’s still not a good enough excuse to be a racist. And we shouldn’t tolerate it the way Maher does.

  1. Jill permalink
    July 19, 2009 4:21 am

    Wrong side of history on the Civil Rights Movement? The Civil Rights Movement was a Republican Movement. The Democratic Party was the opposition ever since Democrats were kicked out of Congress for twelve years after the Civil War for trying to pass national Jim Crow laws. Talk about white washing.

    • July 19, 2009 7:23 pm

      Well hold on just a moment, Jill. Not to defend Maher but I think I know what he’s talking about. Both Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley, Jr. opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Regardless, though, the bill passed the house with most Republicans supporting it.) This was a case in which two Conservative Movement standardbearers were on the wrong side of history. I know Buckley later admitted his error here, not sure if Goldwater did. Probably. Regardless, Goldwater’s opposition came from his libertarianism — it was a painful, principled stand — not any sort of racist sentiment.

      Regardless, you’re right that the Democratic Party has plenty of racial skeletons in its closet. However I really wouldn’t say either party has more racists than the other or a more odious history of racism.

  2. Bruce permalink
    July 19, 2009 1:37 pm

    Yes the guilt! the guilt!

    tell me which race was it that freed the slaves?
    in the US?
    in Europe?
    in Africa?

    and why exactly do we owe them?

  3. Dan permalink
    July 24, 2009 5:35 am

    Bruce, come on man! White folk (our ancestors) bought slaves. We then brought them over here, treated them like dirt, and then continued to mistreat them with segregation and general prejudice. This went on for centuries! And to top it all off you can read study after study showing that blacks are far more likely to be pulled over than whites, and case after case of systemic racism to this day! We owe them because our ancestors created this whole mess in the first place. And amidst all the hateful, racist comments that have come up around the Obama presidency it’s clear we have a long, long way to go.

    Jill, there were racists in both parties. Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and many other Republicans were/are bigoted, hateful people. Neither party is without sin, and both would do well to remember that.

    Now, as far as the examples given, I agree 100% – I don’t care what color someone’s skin is, racism is wrong. And you know, there are a lot of people on the left who agree with me. In fact I’ve never heard this ‘canned argument’ before – that it’s OK for some people to be racist. So if this is a popular leftist slogan then there must be some conspiracy where they make sure only to say it when I’m not around… I think what’s more likely is that people aren’t aware of some of the racism that happens on ‘their side,’ and that – mixed with a little unwillingness to admit that ‘their side’ makes mistakes – is why people tend to be reluctant to acknowledge the problem of racism within their political party/affiliation.

  4. Bruce permalink
    July 26, 2009 11:54 am

    Well Dan

    Quite a nice summary of the Political Correct position. Lets have a little look.

    First point, slavery is close to a universal custom, all races and cultures have practiced it at one time or another. Historically whites have been slaves as often as slave owners. Suggest you stop using historical arguments if they require a re-write of history.

    Second point. Your racism. According to you the only thing one needs to know is the color of the persons skin. White = all racist. Not true incidentally, the vast majority of whites never owned slaves. strictly an elite practice. But that is irrelevant to you. You be white, you be guilty – a blatantly racist position. Blacks of course, following the PC agenda, are all noble and oppressed. Black slave owners, and African slavery simply disappear down the memory hole. Many blacks in the US are not the decedents of slaves, no matter. Skin color is all you need to determine moral superiority. So again a purely racist position. All you need to know is what color a person is and you can determine their your moral worth and rights.

    Blacks are stopped more often. A restatement of the whites bad, blacks good mantra. I suppose the much higher black crime rates are not a factor in who gets stopped? Going to give me the spin that whites are responsible for that too.

    Hateful comments about Obama, oh my the humanity. Curiously, the same people who where ballistic about Bush and were loud in abuse are now Victorian spinsters when their guy is criticized. Another double standard. One standard for what can be said about whites and who can say it and another about blacks. So freedom of speech goes through the racism filter too.

    As to your higher moral ground of race guilt. Are you aware that race guilt is the primary justification of anti-sematism? Some higher ground.

    To sum it up your entire PC position is ahistorical and racist, abet PC correct reverse racism. Still racism though.


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