Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Game, My Rules: Glenn Beck Teaches Rules of Civility for Racial Discussion

I wrote yesterday,

You see how this game is constructed: when it’s played by the real victims of racial or gender discrimination, it’s an illicit game, a diversion from the serious business of life in these God-fearing United States. But when it’s played by the men who rule us, when they choose to play the race game, it’s not only valid, but it’s necessary. It’s their daring decision to alert us to the dangers of what we can all see right in front of our eyes, but few of us are willing to describe. . . . .

The game is designed so that only those who designed it can win at it. And it’s designed so that any challenge to its rules only reinforces the rightness of those rules.

And now I’m interested to read (here and here ) that Glenn Beck has just offered to teach us how to play the race game. In Mr. Beck’s view, you can’t go around calling Addison Graves “Big Joe” Wilson a racist. You have to have evidence of his racism.

It’s uncivil, you see, to go around calling people racists without evidence.

Even though that’s exactly what Mr. Beck has done repeatedly for some time now, when he accuses President Obama of being a racist.

What matters here, you see, is who makes and who owns the rules. The white men who make the rules intend to use them to—you’ve got it—the advantage of other white men like themselves. They can play the game with abandon, as long as they are the ones benefiting from doing so.

But call them at it, and name their racist game for what it is, and you’ll suddenly find that you are the racist. Not them. Not those who pander to gross racial fears and use gross racial stereotypes to keep themselves in power. Only those like President Carter who see the damage that the race-baiting does to all of us and want to move the country beyond such dysfunctional behavior.

Glenn Beck offering to teach us how to understand racism: that’s rich. About like Dick Cheney offering to give us a brush-up course in ethics 101. Or Erik Prince and Blackwater proposing to teach faith-based organizations how to run themselves in accord with sound religious and moral principles.