Look Around: Nobody Plays the Race and Gender Cards Like a Conservative Does
BLUE SUNDAY: A Quick Scan of the Conservative Internet Shows A Penchant For Demonizing Women and People of Color While Liberal White Men Are Ignored
My first memory of hearing the term “the race card” was during the height of the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995. Simpson’s legal team implemented a strategy that put the Los Angeles Police Department’s troubled history of racism on trial at the same time that the prosecution was attempting to prove that the Hall of Fame running back murdered his ex-wife and her companion for the evening in question. The play worked. While DNA and circumstantial evidence strongly suggested The Juice likely committed the murders, enough doubt about the LAPD’s tactics resonated with the jury of his peers to find the defendant not guilty. Simpson’s “Dream Team” of lawyers was simultaneously lauded and criticized for playing the race card.
Almost a quarter-century later, we still have O.J. Simpson in the headlines. And the so-called “race card” is as prevalent as ever, now joined in prominence by the “gender card”.
At their respective cores, the theory behind both the race and gender cards is that it’s an excuse to shut down an argument or debate by claiming racism or sexism, rather than focusing on the tangible facts of a particular matter.
More often than not, these cards are usually played from a conservative approach. You’ve likely run into the argument at least once or a couple dozen times. It’s usually along the lines in a sarcastic context like “Sure, play the race card. Just because I don’t like Obama that means I’m a bigot“. Or “Don’t play the gender card, Hillary being female has nothing to do with her being crooked.”
Which, taken in a strict interpretation is correct. You can disagree with Barack Obama and not have a prejudiced bone in your body. Just ask Doctor Cornell West. Conversely, you can think that a candidate is shady and untrustworthy while her gender plays absolutely no role in forming that opinion. I joke all the time about how I know more liberals that don’t trust Hillary Clinton than I do conservatives. (It’s factually true because I choose to associate myself with progressives a heck of a lot more than I do conservatives.) But if you’ve had these types of engagements, you know this is rarely the case.
The first people to cry “race card” or “gender card” tend to be explicitly silent (or worse, vocally supportive) when actual racist and misogynistic techniques or dog whistles are used. Odds are they exhibited little-to-no outrage at the time when then-game show host Donald Trump entered the political arena by promoting the overtly-white-supremacist notion that Obama was not born in the United States. They may have even voted for Trump despite this. Or worse, because of it.
Furthermore, many of them appeared to be more than content with The Donald’s illustrious history of blatant sexism. Megyn Kelly. Mika Brzezinski. Kirsten Gillibrand. “Grab them by the pussy.” “Nasty Woman“.
Maxine Waters has the right-wing equivalent of three strikes against her: She’s a Democrat. She’s a Woman. And she’s African-American.
The perception of the use of race and gender in contemporary politics, however, is nothing like the reality. Credit to the modern conservative — it’s expert level gaslighting. While the right-wing perspective is often the first one to accuse an opponent of using a card, it’s they themselves who have turned weaponizing it into a cottage industry.
Consider the case of Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-TX). If you have any social media interaction with the MAGA crowd, you likely know that Waters has become their new favorite punching bag. A quick search for Maxine Waters memes pulls up a plethora of images — many made on the premise that this college educated woman is somehow “stupid”. Did you ever ask yourself why?
Waters, like many prominent Democrats, has been outspoken against President Trump — that cannot be denied. But has she been significantly more critical than say, Adam Schiff? The ranking member on the hyperpartisan House Intelligence Committee? Conservatives may loathe Congressman Schiff, but they do so for what he believes, not who he is. Waters, on the other hand, has the right-wing equivalent of three strikes against her: She’s a Democrat. She’s a Woman. And she’s African-American.
Something about the latter two demographics obviously strikes a nerve with the Republican base.
Bill Clinton was hardly respected by his political opponents. The Clinton years were the birth of extreme right-wing talk radio, giving rise to demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The angst directed at President Clinton, however, was nothing compared to what the next Democratic President would have to face.
President Obama inspired a whole new level of hatred in conservative circles. And very little of it had to do with policy, at least if you’re to believe what you saw on social media. The mere sight of him made him the ideal target for the Tea Party at first, and later the tiki-torch-bearing Trump army. And it wasn’t just your day-to-day voters partaking in these vile attacks.
And we know who followed Obama on the virtual whipping post of Republican social media. Be honest with yourself: how many times have you heard or read a conservative refer to Hillary Clinton as a “Bitch” — or worse:
This guy, at the rally with his wife and three kids, in his "She's A Cunt, Vote For Trump" shirt. pic.twitter.com/NDQMz1uteG
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) October 11, 2016
And we now know that the GOP has only one bullet left in their midterm rifle — demonizing Nancy Pelosi. Yet another woman.
does the conservative movement target women and minorities Disproportionately?
Now, you can counter this argument by saying “Wait a minute — you’re talking about a former president (Obama), a former presidential candidate (Hillary Clinton), an outspoken critic of the Trump (Waters) and a congressional leader (Pelosi).” And you would be 100% accurate. And if that was the case — progressive politicos being lambasted solely for their policy positions — we could safely assume that their white male counterparts in similar positions would be equally chastised, right?
Yeah, about that.
Not having the time or sufficient quantities of Xanax to peruse through and study every single conservative internet or social media-based page out there, I decided to instead focus fully on one. I declined to use Fox News because, per their role as a “major” news outlet, they cover every single news event along with their slanted op-ed works. Furthermore, few Republican fan pages or newsgroups on social media have an adequate and professional web-based presence that exists off of Facebook. Most of them use Facebook as a tool to drive clicks towards a bare-bones page for revenue.
But Breitbart is different. Their role in Republican politics needs little explanation. Their former top executive left the company to run Trump’s campaign. They have their own specific advertisers — not relying on third-party ad agencies the way most start-up publications do. They have a salaried full-time staff that isn’t paid per click. And their reporters and columnists regularly appear on cable news. In short, while their views and stories may be off-putting to most, they have a legitimate business model.
They also have a very convenient Google-based search box to scour their archives. And I’m quite grateful for it. Using this option, I decided to search for how many mentions certain Democrats or other left-leaning individuals were mentioned on the site. I tried to balance out white male individuals with similarly positioned women and people of color. The objective was straightforward: Find out if the conservative movement targets women and minorities disproportionately.
For each search, the subject’s name was in quotations. For each result, the Google result was listed on the page as “Approximate Results”. I assume Google rounded up or down to the nearest ten as all hits ended with a clean “0”. Here’s what I found:
It should surprise nobody that Hillary Clinton received more attention than anybody else on Breitbart. Nor should it be surprising that President Obama was next. Though, one would think a sitting two-term President would outrank a presidential candidate. But look how far down the list another president is — Bill Clinton.
Granted, Clinton has been out of office for sixteen years, but he was the spouse of the 2016 nominee.
Then we can examine Nancy Pelosi. She was Speaker of the House from 2007 through the end of 2010. Two terms. She has been House Minority Leader since. But why is she mentioned almost twice as much as the two Senate leaders with which she has served beside, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid combined!
Eric Holder was Obama’s attorney general. And he was black. And he outranks one former president, two former Senate leaders, a Vice President and a Vice Presidential nominee on this hit list. Significantly.
Elizabeth Warren? Woman. Maxine Waters? We covered that. Of the top 10 figures on the list, you have to get to number 7 to find a white male in Bernie Sanders — and a significant amount of his Breitbart coverage was sympathetic towards the self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, given his primary opposition to Clinton and the well-publicized DNC influence on the campaign.
Even Colin Kaepernick, a professional athlete who sacrificed his career for his principles, outranks Schumer, Reid, and Kaine.
Clicks drive revenues. Too often, stories are published not because they’re the most pressing issues of the day but rather because they’ll attract the most readership. Which in turn brings in the most money.
And if I know this, you can bet your resisting ass that the bean counters and editorial staff at Breitbart know this as well. They know who their audience is. And they know what their audience wants to hear: women and people of color being demeaned under the guise of open political debate.
It’s the only card up their sleeve.
Now That You Mention It…
•I completely agree with my new colleague, Jason Baum. The proverbial “blue wave” cannot be propelled by the threat of Impeachment alone. Trump can likely be impeached with relative ease if the Democrats take back the house, and his admission to Lester Holt alone would likely be enough cause to draft the articles based off of “Obstruction of Justice” – one of the primary charges levied against President Clinton during his Impeachment. But as Jason and others have pointed out – Senate conviction and subsequent removal have never occurred in the history of the presidency. There may never be a better time to lay out a bold progressive agenda. Liberal policies on higher education and healthcare reform poll well. Give the voters a reason to vote in the affirmative, not just against Trump.
•There’s obviously a lot more to the potential breakdown of talks with North Korea than we’re aware of. Despite the sheer incompetence of the Trump administration, there are still some professional diplomats involved in these types of high-level discussions on issues of this magnitude. But one has to wonder, following the abrupt decision to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (The Iran Nuclear Deal), do we now have an irreparable reputation for being untrue to our word? As Americans, we’re used to policy changing at the whim of an incoming administration. But we’re not talking tax brackets or gun control here. These are international treaties that required broad consensus. They can’t be easily backed into and out of like executive orders.
•Sure, you can believe that Trump was speaking ONLY about MS-13 when he called immigrants “animals”. Just like you can believe that the earth is flat, the Tooth Fairy is real, an itchy palm means you’ll win the lottery and every species on earth was once saved by an old man and his ark. The rest of us know loaded commentary when we hear it.
And we hear it way too often from this administration.
•OH CRAP! Tomi Lahren’s been cloned! There goes the neighborhood.
•Suffice to say, this has been the biggest week for Yanni since Live at the Acropolis fell off the charts. Too bad it’s Laurel.
•I thought Beach Chair Chris Christie was the pinnacle of viral photoshops. Then “Racist lady on a Cell-phone” happened. And it couldn’t have happened to a better person.
•Some people can be stupid. But they’ll never be Congressman-Mo-Brooks-Thinking-Falling-Rocks-Cause-A-Global-Rise-Of-Sea-Levels Stupid.
•My thoughts are with you, bookies. Keep your heads up.
•I doubt that he would run for office. But if you follow professional basketball, do you have any doubt that Brad Stevens would be capable of easily solving every problem that this country faces? Part Yoda, part Einstein. And he could probably carry Indiana!
•Speaking of Yoda. Solo this week! No, there is no saturation point when it comes to Star Wars. They can release a movie a week and I’ll be filling up my bucket of popcorn every Friday night.
What Won Twitter This Week?
Someone in the GOP still has a shred of dignity…
From one cantankerous senator to another, sending my prayers & best wishes to @SenatorReid as he recovers from a successful surgery
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 14, 2018
Perspective, people! (Part 1)
Two Trump Republicans made fun of John McCain today. One about him being tortured and one about him having brain cancer.
that's fine…just, for the love of god, don't mock the press secretary's eye makeup.
— Elias Toufexis (@EliasToufexis) May 11, 2018
Perspective, people! (Part 2)
The crowd at Trump's rally in Elkhart, Indiana, has already chanted "Lock her up" repeatedly.
Incidentally, Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators, reported to prison to start his sentence today.
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) May 11, 2018
This Profile will likely appear in this space every week…
When you refer to MS-13 members as animals but call Nazis “fine people” that’s called Klansplaining.
— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) May 17, 2018
Yeah, I’ll bet…
“The Supreme Court did what now?" pic.twitter.com/84kn1mVIET
— Clemquon (@TheClemReport) May 14, 2018
Defeat The Meme!
Do you get a kick out of the sheer nonsense embedded in every right-wing meme you see on the internet? Are you tired of starting a fact-check reply, only to realize there’s no point because you can’t reason with some people? Worry not. Each week I’ll pluck a conservative meme from the vast wasteland of Republican social media and debunk it in this space. Got a meme you want to see defeated? Send it here.
Let’s play this scenario out:
- If Trump is impeached by the house and subsequently convicted and removed by the Senate, that means at least 66 Senators would have voted to do so.
- While it is true that Mike Pence would then ascend to the presidency, and have the ability to select his new Vice President, there’s this pesky thing called the Constitution. If the idiot who created this meme kept reading the next 23 amendments, he’d have learned that the 25th one says:
25th Amendment: Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
- So what’s being assumed here is that a majority of the House that voted to impeach, and a majority of the Senate in which a supermajority voted to convict and remove, would then turn around and say “Sure! We’ll approve this guy as Vice President.”
Congratulations to the conservative who took the time to create this meme. You’re giving Mo Brooks a run for his money.
Songs Of Freedom
Building the ultimate #Resistance playlist, one week at a time. I’m always up for discovering unheralded protest songs, and if you have a recommendation, I’d love to hear it!
Forget about simply throwing this on a playlist. Can we agree that it should be the temporary national anthem for the duration of the Trump Presidency? Can we put the “Star Spangled Banner” in mothballs until this era is put to rest? Not only is the title — “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” — such a succinctly perfect synopsis of this administration, but the opening lines of this 1977 track seem nothing short of prophetic:
I went home with a waitress
the way I always do.
How was I to know
she was with the Russians too?
With that in mind, lets take a look at our playlist so far…
Till next Sunday, my friends…